I firmly believe that restaurants were invented to make the world a slightly better place and that’s exactly what Sala-Thai does. Situated next door to La Vigna, the Italian restaurant which is another great laid back dining station, the Thai is also owned by the La Vigna family, under the excellent stewardship of cousin Panikos Argyrou.
The outside dining area is simple, bone white, very comfy chairs, good lighting and a feeling of space between tables. And now with cooler evenings there is also seating inside, which again has a relaxing atmosphere, not forgetting the presence of some of the friendliest and best trained waiting staff in Paphos, all of whom have knowledge of the dishes on offer so a virgin Thai diner can feel safe in the knowledge that the dishes once explained can then be looked forward to without fear they will not be as described.
Thia food isn’t about simplicity, it’s about the juggling of disparate elements to create a harmonious finish. A bit like a complex musical chord, it has to have a smooth surface but it doesn’t rely on what’s happening underneath. The resident Thai chef is a man who offers food which has a certain necessary precision, it’s also startlingly lovely to look at and is certainly the sort of cooking that really makes you giggle with pleasure.
We kicked off the evening with soup – I had the Tom Yam with prawns, this is soup that can alter your state of mind especially if you ache for a real pick me up as it offers a mildly spicy combination of great broth with mushrooms, shallots, chilli, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves, which you can have with chicken or purely vegetarian. My friends opted for the Tom Kha, a coconut soup with lime juice, fresh coriander and galangal and again we agreed that as an opening salvo both passed with honours on the taste test and raised the curtain on a performance of memorable cooking skills.
Despite feeling quite full from the soup we nibbled some prawns on toast and crackers while waiting the next course, duck with homemade pancakes. Again a round of applause for duck which did not demand urgent attention by the back molars from melt in the mouth juicy slivers.
A meat eater will also relish chef’s pork balls made with lashings of lemon grass and after a short interval we continued on to what has to be one of the best salmon dishes I have relished in a very long time. Billed as a salmon salad, it sounds modest enough but boy does this chef manage to bring salmon alive, with marvellous bursts of flavour and textures.
Chicken Cajun with hoisin sauce is another deeply smoky and equally delish way to move chicken up the less boring stakes, and there is also a good range of curries, of which I usually plump for either a green, red or yellow but here I tried and thoroughly enjoyed the Massa man curry from South Thailand with either beef or lamb. My friends went for the perfect fillet of sea bass pan fried with garlic and sweet chilli sauce.
I would recommend an immediate visit to SalaThai as this food not only offers fire but also sour and salt, and smoke, and sweetness, and those from the school of ‘I don’t want anything too spicy’ are also well catered for yet do not miss out on marvellous flavours as chef has in his repertoire real Thai basil, lemongrass, mint, coriander, lime juice, fish sauces, plus soothing coconut to lend a calming depth to the evening. I will certainly be returning.
SPECIALTY Thai cooking
WHERE Sala-Thai, Coral Bay, Paphos. Next door to La Vigna Italian restaurant
PRICE from €7 for starters, €10 upwards for mains
CONTACT 26 622699