Ban Vanipha


From the outside, there seems something a little off putting about this Thai/Laotian restaurant. Perhaps it is the immediate area on Dundas West that it encompasses, not quite apart of Chinatown or Kensington Market but comprising its own little mini area with two other restaurants to the west. After dining here twice; however, all of my doubts have been neatly put to rest due to the delicious fare and thoughtful service that is provided.

My first visit, I was taken here by a friend for my birthday. I had never tried Laotian food before and I couldn’t even pronounce any of the items on the menu. Thankfully, my friend had recently been to Laos and knew exactly what to order. We took our time by sharing several appetizers , a chicken, vegetable and seafood main, and dessert to finish. I don’t recall exactly what each dish was but we were both duly impressed. The atmosphere of the restaurant is completely laid back and serene which is a nice respite coming off the busy Dundas strip.

My second visit here was different from the first. Instead of sitting and “dining”, we ordered and ate quickly. The staff were quite attentitve to our needs and sensed that we did not desire to have a long drawn out meal. The quality to sense what pace the customer wants to eat is difficult for wait staff to master but can be crucial to enjoying a meal.

This time around I remember we ordered the Khao Glum for an appetizer which was black sticky rice and beans wrapped in a banana leaf with a side of spicy sauce. A tad difficult to share, but tasty nonetheless. For our main course we shared two dishes. A chicken dish called Ping Gai, was, according to the menu, spiced “Laotian style”. I’m not sure what that means exactly but it was very well seasoned and came with a delicious coriander sauce. We also had a shrimp dish called “ping gou yai”. The tiger shrimp were huge and juicy and came with grilled zucchini and a grilled tomato. I would have preferred to take my time, but my friend was in more of a rush. Despite this, it was still an enjoyable meal and I will be happy to return here again.