Sunday, 9 February 2014

Delicious Thai Curry at Viphalay

Throughout most of law school, I worked in a nondescript building on the south end of downtown. We watched with moderate interest as a nearby restaurant in an old house went through a couple iterations. Previously a mediocre Indian restaurant, this house is now the home to Viphalay Laos & Thai Restaurant, pronounced Vee-pah-lay (I asked the owner once). You'll recognize it by the yellow awnings on the front of the house.

I have lost count of the number of times I have eaten there in the last few years, whether for a quick lunch, a group dinner, or date night. The food never disappoints and the service is always friendly and efficient.

Clockwise from top left: penang curry with seafood, coconut rice,
drunken noodles with chicken, and pad thai

Lunch is always a speedy affair; they have a shortened menu and make it possible to be in and out in under an hour. Not to worry, the ever-popular pad thai is one of the staple items on the lunch menu. 

Check out the veggies!
Personally, I always gravitate toward the drunken noodles (Sober up your drunken taste buds with an intense blast of spice, pan fried egg noodles and an assortment of broccoli, zuccini, cauliflower and bell peppers, chicken $14). Reminiscent of ichiban  noodles generously seasoned with lots of spicy chili, lots of tender chicken, and fresh, colourful vegetables, this dish is a winner. They use what I would consider to be "real" vegetables (not just filler): red peppers, green peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower. All of which are perfectly cooked to retain their crunch.

The not-dark-enough
Lychee juice and
pinot grigio
I should also add that Viphalay has a fantastic pinot grigio at a good price ($6/glass, $28/bottle). This always makes my choices easy!

The boyfriend's only complaint about Viphalay is that they don't carry a dark enough beer for him. My sister opted for the lychee juice and said it was excellent and refreshing.

We started with an order of the pork spring rolls (nice crispy golden spring rolls, your choice of pork or vegetarian, $8), which I think are some of the best in the city. They arrive at the table steaming hot, fresh out of the fryer. In fact, they are so hot you should probably give them a minute or two to cool down before digging in. The spring rolls are served with a thai chili sauce and the filling includes pork, julienned carrots, and glass noodles. 

Hot and crispy pork spring rolls

On other occasions I have also tried the thai samosas (crispy potato Thai samosa stuffed with chicken, peas, carrots, onions and spiced with Yellow curry, $10), and the Gah Yaw Kaow, also known as salad rolls (fresh rice paper wraps with grilled chicken, shrimp and egg rolled with lettuce, carrots, vermicelli noodles and basil). The salad rolls are fresh and satisfying!

Pad Thai

But I digress - back to our Saturday night dinner! My sister ordered the pad thai (made with Thai rice noodles, shrimp, chicken, egg, tofu, and fresh bean sprouts wok tossed to perfection and sprinkled chopped peanuts, $15). This being her first time at Viphalay, she said this was the best pad thai she has ever had.

The boyfriend and I shared my usual, the drunken noodles with chicken, an order of penang curry with seafood (most popular curry in Thailand made with blends of similar spices from our red curry but with a slightly milder and sweeter taste enhanced with red peppers and shredded lime leaves, seafood $16) and a medium coconut rice (sweet and fragrant coconut cream infused rice, $5 for two). 

Drunken noodles with chicken

The coconut rice is heavenly. It's light and fluffy and just slightly sweet from the subtle coconut. Absolutely perfect to pair with a spicy curry.

Penang curry with seafood and medium coconut rice
(plus the blue hue from the "open sign" in the window
behind our table)
The penang curry is also a delight for the tastebuds. The seafood version full of tender and flaky white fish, perfectly cooked mussels removed from their shells, succulent shrimp, mini scallops, and soft octopus. There really is no way to describe the penang curry other than to say, you gotta try this! It's so well balanced, moderately spicy, and so robust. It's also studded with lots of red peppers that are perfectly cooked to retain their crunch. 

I've also had their red and green curries and they are both excellent.

After making our way through everything, there was lots left to take home. However, we couldn't resist taking a look at the dessert menu. I've had the banana envelopes before and they are amazing. My sister was sorely tempted by the mango sticky rice. We were just too full to do it, so we made the very difficult decision to skip dessert this time around.

If you're looking for delicious thai food in downtown Edmonton, Viphalay is a must! 

We arrived around 8pm with no reservation and the restaurant was packed. If you are able to plan far enough in advance to make a reservation, I definitely recommend doing so. Nothing would be more disappointing than showing up and not being able to get a table for those spring rolls and coconut rice!


Viphalay Laos & Thai Restaurant

10523 99 Ave Edmonton 
(780) 756 - 8188 

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