A friend of mine had a photography job booked for this past Saturday, and he invited me along for lunch. The models he was shooting looked fantastic, smelled fabulous and tasted even better.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m a pervert, the photo shoot was for a restaurant, and Dave was shooting the menu items.

And am I glad he invited me along.

Vegetable RollsIt was Dave who, lo so many years ago introduced me to my second favourite ethnic food—Vietnamese Pho and Bun. My favourite is of course, curry since I grew up with it at least once a week.

Saturday, Dave was at the Green Papaya, in north Calgary (so far north in fact, it used to be beyond the city limits when my sister lived in the area), a restaurant that serves—in conjunction with its sister restaurant that shares the same dining area—Vietnamese and Indian cuisine.

Tandoori ChickenSince we had been spending the day running about, I brought my daughter Rhane along—she’s only just learning to eat hot curries, and had never tried Vietnamese food before. I was hoping she’d have a good experience—and was not disappointed.

The interior decor is nice and open and airy, with alternating booths and tables comprising the seating of the main area. On the Vietnamese ‘side’ the art on the walls was simple, and understatedly beautiful—of Asian extract. The other side was similar, but with the flavour of India instead. The manager, who took time to speak with us while Dave shot fresh dishes from the menu, indicated that all of the items, from the seating to the dishes and glassware were authentically Vietnamese—“Everything but the food is from Vietnam” he said, “Well, the recipes are too.”

Vermicelli and PorkService was pleasant and fast—although for lunch there did seem to be fewer patrons than I would expect, but considering they have buffets during the week, I suspect most people visit the establishment on weekdays or weekend evenings.

Rhane and I shared a bowl of vermicelli (Bun) with BBQ pork and spring rolls, we also had some of the veggie rolls with peanut sauce and papaya salad—which was a little spicy for Rhane, but I thought was fantastic.

Green Papaya SaladPrices are reasonable for the quality of food, and I look forward to returning with my mother and sister to try to Indian side in the near future. An interesting note, is that each side of the restaurant uses a separate kitchen, chef and kitchen staff—which allows for the Green Papaya to provide fusion-style atmosphere with an authentic ethnic menu regardless of whichever of the two are your favourite ethnic foods—Indian or Vietnamese.

The Green Papaya is at 128-12024 Symons Valley Rd NW, Calgary (just follow Beddington Tr north past Stoney Tr and it’s in the mall on your right)

Now if only Dave would invite me along the next time he’s doing a fashion shoot.

Cheers,

Sean