Food and Food: Asia and Food: Edmonton22 Nov 2009 10:58 pm

Viphalay Laotian + Thai Restaurant
10724 – 95 Street, Edmonton
Open everyday, 11am – 9pm

I’m not sure if it is the colder weather or my parents talking about their annual winter move to southeast Asia, but I have been nuts for Thai and Laotian food lately. The flavours, spices and variety have been on my mind quite often. As as result, Mike and I have eaten at both Syphay and Viphalay in the past couple weeks. These are both restaurants that feature mixed menus of Thai and Laotian food.

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Busy Friday night at Viphalay

The restaurant was busy on a Friday night at prime time, but we were still seated quickly as the waitress snatched a “reserved” sign off of a table for an obviously unfulfilled reservation. It was a bit chilly sitting next to the door though, as people were constantly filing in and out, picking up eat-out orders and coming in to dine.

We ordered some old favourites, like beef lahp salad and a hot red curry. Viphalay insists on serving sticky rice that is fresh, and so you must order it earlier in the day. That was a bit inconvenient, but I admire their dedication to fine foods. It’s the classic accompaniment to lahp, and makes it easy to make morsels of sticky rice and spicy-sour beef to pop into your mouth.

singha beer mug

Mike ordered a Singha beer, which came in an extremely authentic style: an icy mug. Sometimes in Thai beach bars you will get your frosty beer in a beer koozie, and in mall beer gardens, a tabletop keg with an ice core, but usually it’s the icy mug. This simple step made me incredibly happy.

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Side condiments of crushed dried red peppers and fermented chili garlic.

I had an ulcer for many years and was unable to fully enjoy spicy foods (not to mention the fire in my tender mouth) when I lived overseas but am now starting to ramp up my ability to eat them. We got a hot red curry, with a side of pungent fermented chili and garlic…which I avoided. Mike enjoyed it, though.

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The forgettable BBQ beef. “Don’t eat the flower,” requested/told the server.

The food came out quickly and was great. The only thing I would avoid was the BBQ beef. They were quite bland and I found the curious curls of meat a bit tough. I still couldn’t stop popping them in my mouth, though.

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Condensed milk roti roll

To finish, I could not avoid the siren song of the street cart favourite, roti, for dessert. These carts are all over Thailand, selling a thin crispy crepe of sorts, both chewy and crispy, sweet and a touch salty. Although there are an incredible variety to get now, including Nutella, raisins, peanut butter and so on, the gold standard is a combo of honey and banana or just condensed milk and sugar. I had no idea there was a place in Edmonton selling this hard to find treat, but I will return when I get my next craving, for sure. They are normally served up flat on a paper plate, sliced into squares, but little was lost in Viphalay’s artsy presentation.

Viphalay is a wonderful restaurant, serving up genuine Southeast Asian cuisine and hospitality. It was all I could do at the end of the meal to not ask for the cheque in the standard Thai manner: “Check bin, ka.” I will most certainly return.

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Fiery lahp gnua and red curry with chicken

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Thai iced tea candies with the bill, in what looked like a mango wood bowl.

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