6010 104 st
I stopped in for an impromptu lunch yesterday, so I apologize in advance for the blackberry photos. As my dining companion felt the start of a cold coming, we figured a hot bowl of soup would be the great cure. With a limited time period, and an uncertainty about where to get our fix of hot soupy goodness we headed over to Syphay Restaurant.
Located right on the very busy 104 street, this tiny Thai/Lao restaurant seems like a strange fit when you take in all the surrounding buildings. Stepping inside for the first time, I couldn't help but think. Geez, only 4 or 5 tables..that has to make for long wait times. Luckily enough for you and me, there is a left turn which leads to a slighter bigger room occupied by another group of tables. The restaurant was probably 60-70% full, with most tables being twosomes and one polite server taking care of everyone. We started with green tea, as we read the menu and chatted.
This spontaneous lunch get together happened only a few hours after eating breakfast, so I didn't look too deeply into the menu and decided to also stick with soup. I did notice the typical offerings; curry plates, stir fry's and salads. I decided on the tohm yum shrimp, while my fellow diner order tohm kha chicken with a side of steamed rice. The server mentioned you can add noodles, which we both turned down, and then inquired about the heat. Which brings me to, what I find, a interesting point at Thai restaurants. Looking at Thai menu's, I often find the level-of-spice ratings so strange. For example, what is authentic heat? And why is that the hottest? So if you didn't want a 5 chili rating, would it not be authentic? Thoughts? I really liked the Syphay option of - mild, medium, or spicy. Straight to the point with no 5 star authentic rating scale. We both ordered our soups spicy.
We had plenty of time to talk, as the soups took longer than expected (although I'm quite used to the speed of pho). Arriving to the table, they provided a great aroma and you could almost smell the 'heat'. I didn't know what to think of all the mushrooms on top, but came to appreciated the soft texture they provided as they absorbed the spicy flavour broth. The bowl wasn't exactly swimming in shrimp, I counted 5, and I don't think they brought anything to party. The broth was what really won me over. Not as clear as many tohm yum bowls I've had in the past, it had great depth in every way. And the spice...a perfect heat that brought a few beads of sweat to my bald head and induced a few sniffles!
All in all, a great first impression. I'm definitely going to make a mental bookmark and head back for something a little heavier.
**I used the menu spelling for this post, but I can't recall these dishes spelled with an h before. Is it regional tom vs tohm?
Friday, October 9, 2009