Champions of Alberta Avenue: Lan's Asian Grill

Lan’s Asian Grill: a Labour of Love 

Written by Shirley Serviss
Photo by Edmonton Shutterbugs Photography Group

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Lan Lim and her husband Sunny Lim came to Edmonton in 1975 with $100, on the recommendation of the one person Lim knew here, who said it was peaceful and people were very friendly.  

Lan was born in Laos and met Sunny there, but they moved to Thailand fearing what would happen as communism took over the country. Sunny, had already escaped from Cambodia, where many people had been tortured and killed, including his parents. They left Thailand for California where they applied and got accepted to Canada. 

Hard work was the first order of business in the new country, and they took whatever jobs they could find as they raised their three children. “We saved money; before we spent a penny, we thought about it,” Lan says. Sunny worked as a chef’s assistant at the Chateau Lacombe and later started a driving school. Lan sewed the designs and upholstered the insides of caskets until she developed problems with her hands from repetitive use of the stapler, glue gun and scissors. 

In 2008, their grown children suggested Lan start a restaurant to share her wonderful cooking with others. “If they wanted to do it, I said I’d help. I’d share my recipes and teach them,” Lan says. 

They chose to open Lan’s Asian Grill at 11826 103rd Street near NAIT in an area of businesses surrounding a parking lot. A true family restaurant, Tom manages the restaurant, Monica does the cooking and Vinson does the marketing.  

“To be a cook, you have to have a heart,” Lan says. “You have to love your customers, keep everything clean and give good things to your customers. We don’t use MSG or too much oil.” 

Tom remembers her teaching him that lesson early in life when she took a head of lettuce, peeled off the outer leaves and told him that if they were still good, you could eat them yourself. Then she cut open the lettuce and showed him the tender, inner leaves. These, she said, were the ones you would serve to your guests —only the best. It’s that philosophy that guides the restaurant. 

“To be successful, you have to do it with your heart. You have to be honest and care about what you’re doing. You have to work hard,” Lan says. “We still miss our country, but I love people here. It is my home now.”  

 Watch The Champions of Alberta Avenue Short Film by Moving Artistry Productions

This special community project became reality through the creative efforts of:

Justin Brunelle | Moving Artistry Productions

Weyme Teeter | Video Editor

David Baron | Cinematographer

Shirley Serviss | Writer

The Edmonton Shutterbugs Photography Group

Christy Morin | Project Producer

Allison Argy-Burgess | Project Coordinator