I’d heard much ado about Viphalay (10724 95 Street NW), from a friend, a newspaper and a chef. Dickson and I agreed on this new-ish Thai and Laotian restaurant for a lunch meet-up last week so I was finally able to experience it firsthand.
With bars on the windows, I really didn’t feel welcome approaching the eatery. Next to a school, with a tiny parking lot shared with a handful of other businesses, the location left much to be desired. But walking into the space, I was immersed in a much different feeling. The interior was modern and elegant – red walls accented the bar at the rear of the restaurant; the inset ceiling, lined with bold red and black paint, brought an unexpected jolt of vibrancy to the mostly white dining area; and lastly, the delicate spotlights that shone on the periphery of the room created a subtle but classy mood.
The restaurant was less than half full when we walked in just after 12:30pm. We were asked if we had a reservation, and when we responded that we didn’t, were promptly seated anyway at a table along one wall. The place setting included a wine glass, which seemed unnecessarily fancy, but then again, so long as the drinking vessel is clean, I shouldn’t complain.
We took some time to peruse the menu, and despite being momentarily tempted to order the lunch special (which seemed the most economical way to sample their fare), I ended up with my benchmark dish of Pad Thai ($12.99). Dickson opted for the Tamarind Chicken ($11.99) and a side of coconut rice ($2.99/bowl).
I would gather that for most on a noon hour jaunt, time is of the essence. Of course, not choosing a “15 minute guaranteed express lunch” from Kelsey’s or the like means that I was, on some level, making a conscious choice to gamble with an unknown time factor. At the same time, as the restaurant was seated with half of its maximum capacity, Dickson and I expected some expediency with our meal.
It took a good thirty-five minutes to deliver our food, leaving us with about fifteen minutes to eat. I want to press that our waitress was great throughout our meal – attentive and polite to the point of pushing formal (presenting our bill with two hands and a bowed head made me a little uncomfortable), but she couldn’t alleviate the time stress we felt because of the slow kitchen.
As for the food – we thought it was average. The pad thai was more sweet than spicy, and the number of shrimp included were a paltry three – I would choose the same dish at Bua Thai or Syphay any day. Dickson’s tamarind chicken was all right, but with a flavour that was mildly sweet but not wholly distinct, neither of us would recommend it as a standout entrée.
I may visit Viphalay again, perhaps for supper or for a weekend lunch date, but I surely won’t be back when an acute awareness of time will impede my enjoyment of the meal.
10724 95 Street NW
Tuesday – Sunday, lunch 11am-2pm, dinner 5-9pm, closed Mondays