Post 6 – Viphalay
I always like to do something with each of my good friends over the holidays to celebrate the season. Usually, rather than give a present, I like to go out and eat somewhere, cook a meal in together, or go out and do something special and actually spend time together. I really think one of the best parts of the holidays is taking the time to see the people who you care about, both friends and family. It must be something about this time of year, maybe especially this year, but I just feel like it’s so important to be with the people you care about and to let them know they are important to you… or maybe it’s because I recently watched Love Actually (the best Christmas movie in my opinion) and I’m feeling a little sappy. :)
Anyway, this weekend I planned a dinner with my friend, Laura. She was feeling adventurous, so we decided to head to Viphalay downtown for some Thai food. I’ve been to Viphalay a few times before and it has never disappointed, so I was really looking forward to going there with Laura.
We perused the menu and decided to share a few dishes between the 2 of us. I think it’s always fun to go to a restaurant you’ve been to before with someone new, because often they will pick things that you wouldn’t normally pick yourself.
We started with the Thai Samosas, which were stuffed with potato, chicken, peas, carrots, onions and spiced with yellow curry. They were wonderfully crispy on the outside and the inside was lightly spiced with yellow curry. I am not the biggest fan of samosas from Indian restaurants, but I really enjoyed these ones and would definitely have them again.
The rest of the food came in rapid succession, well actually, pretty much at the same time as the Samosas. Rather than the usual Pad Thai, we opted for the Drunken Noodles with chicken, which are described on the menu as an opportunity to “sober up your drunken taste buds with an intense blast of spice, pan-fried egg noodles and an assortment of broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower and bell peppers.” I actually didn’t find the noodles spicy at all really. They were spiced, but not spicy. One of the things I really like about Viphalay is that they seem to use a nice variety of “good” vegetables in their dishes, like zucchini, broccoli, and peppers, rather than just lots of filler cabbage and onions, like some places seem to.
For our other dish, Laura picked the Tamarind Chicken, another item I’d never tried before. She asked if I knew what tamarind was and my lame answer was “umm… a spice?” I really didn’t have much idea other than I know it’s used in Thai cooking (good detective work Robyn), specifically Pad Thai. So, I decided to learn a little about tamarind today. According to Wikipedia, tamarind is a tree. The tamarind tree produces pod like fruit that are used in various cuisines around the world. The pulp of the tamarind fruit is the edible part used in cooking. In Thai food it is used as an essential souring ingredient in the central Thai variant of kaeng som, a sour curry. Pad Thai also often includes tamarind for its tart/sweet taste (yay, I got something right).
The Tamarind Chicken was described as being juicy bites of chicken breast stir-fried in a tangy tamarind sauce with a colourful assortment of sweet bell peppers. The chicken seemed to be breaded and deep-fried and then was tossed in the tamarind sauce along with some bell peppers and onions. The sauce definitely had a little bit of a sweet and sour thing going on. Again, I really liked this new dish and would likely order it again.
And of course we ordered some coconut rice. What Thai meal is complete without coconut rice? The rice was creamy, coconuty and delicious, as usual.
Viphalay did not disappoint. The food was wonderful, fresh and flavourful, there was more than enough of it (yay for leftovers) and the price was pretty good. With tax, tip and a glass of wine for each of us, I think the meal worked out to be about $35.00 each. Not bad at all. I was thinking about it and I think right now, Viphalay is probably one of my favourite restaurants in Edmonton.