At first, it’s easy to miss Viphalay Laos and Thai Restaurant – we drive right past the tiny building. Luckily we find this discreet, out-of-the-way spot, with nary another restaurant in sight. Viphalay restaurant is small enough to be intimate but not overcrowded, making it an ideal spot for a long visit with a close friend.
Viphalay serves all of the dishes in rapid succession, so the flavours and textures of each dish can complement and contrast each other. The gah yaw kaow (salad rolls) arrive first. These rice-paper wraps, stuffed with grilled chicken and egg, lettuce, carrots and vermicelli noodles, are a light, fresh start to what becomes a big meal.
A huge vessel of aromatic gaeng kah gai (coconut soup), full of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, mushrooms, onions and chunks of chicken is served almost instantly after we finish the salad rolls. The savoury soup has a rich, tomato-heavy taste, which is different compared to other coconut soups we’ve tried, but, hey, change is good.
A standout dish is the gaeng kiew wan (green curry), accompanied by a sweet, fragrant coconut rice. It’s fluffy and full of flavour – so much better than the mushy coconut rice coming out of our own kitchen. The curry has just the right amount of spice – enough to make your lips tingle – with hunks of green pepper, pea pods and broccoli.
Despite our full bellies, our server persuades us to try the most popular item on the dessert menu, the roti rolls. He sets down bite-size pieces of fried flaky phyllo pastry filled with a mix of melted butter and sugar that oozes out of the slightly salty dough with every bite. It’s so good, it’s hard to believe that we almost missed out entirely. (10724 95 St., 780-423-3213, viphalay.com)