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Apr 27, 2012 01:19 PM

Heng Lay - Lowell

A Cambodian friend of mine took a few of us up to Lowell a couple weeks back to eat at Heng Lay. Really enjoyed our meal.

Started off with Papaya Salad with a side of Fried Chicken. Papaya Salad was excellent with a perfect mix of tangy and sweet. The Chicken was fried perfectly crispy as well.

Prahok with Scrambled Eggs was also very good. Nice strong flavor and paired well with the Side of Veggies especially the tomatillos.

The Chicken Curry was incredible and by far our favorite dish of the night. Awesome curry with a strong coconut milk flavor that I love. Huge portion as well that we had no issues finishing.

Next was the Hot Pot. Great broth with once again a pronounced coconut and curry flavor. We had Tripe, Quail Eggs, Shrimp, Beef and Vegetables served for the Hot Pot. All of which were great.

Finished off with a drink made of Condensed Milk, Carbonated Water and Egg. Great way to finish the meal.

I did not notice any reviews on CHOW of this restaurant and definitely believe it is worthy of a visit if in Lowell. The owners were wonderful as well, great people and great food. I will definitely return.

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      1. re: Matt H

        Thanks Matt. I don't know this place. Lowell is such a chow treasure!

    1. Hit this place on Saturday. Awesome.

      Sadout Salad with Pork Belly: interesting slightly bitter green, delicious. The green almost looked like very frail broccoli rabe but had some real bitter bite to it.

      Fried Chicken Wings Perfectly Done

      Beef Chowfoon (for the kids)competently done

      Sweet and Sour Chicken soup: delicate, subtle, remarkable. Interesting cruchy tube shaped veggies that looked a bit like ziti pasta about 1/2 in diameter and 2" long sections. In cross section it looked like lotus root, tubes within tubes. The soup was simply amazing and unlike any sour cambodian soup I've ever had in that it was so delicate and refined.

      Gosh, add this place to the list. I give it a 9.5.

      1. Most flavorful calamari ever. Henglay seems to be the favorite of foodist Cambodians that I know of.

        Closed Wednesday. Off the beaten path, funky but free parking, check out the cat feed they put out and a sort of shrine on the side of the restaurant.

        Foodies go to Simply Khmer, pro eaters go to Henglay, ha ha.

        Lowell has some great stuff, was a bit let down by banh mi so far but haven't hit all of them.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tatsu

          I stumbled on Heng Lay on Yelp and wondered why I had never heard of it. Really sublime. I guess I gotta try the calamari.

          Good luck with the free parking. With all the snow there were like 2 spots.

          1. re: StriperGuy

            Lol, we better not show up the same night or I'll have you towed. I was there first!

            Well I follow Kim S. on Yelp, and while her tastes don't always match up with mine, I'm pretty certain she's Cambodian and she's tried every Cambodian place in Lowell extensively. She knows Lowell like the back of her hand. She's got a great blog, and when I read her post about Henglay (That's what it says on the menus, I don't know if Heng Lay or Henglay is correct.) I knew I HAD to go. EATTV has mentioned this before, but I like to hit Palin Market while I'm up there as well, not just a run of the mill SE Asian market but interesting things like fresh rice noodles and caul fat. Take out selections, some of them, can be very good. I like their chili prahok, I put that stuff on anything at home that needs kick and umani. Sriracha seems boring now.

            Anyway, anything Southeast Asian in Lowell and vicinity, I immediately hit up Kim's blog. We are shooting in the dark!

            I would also follow her lead on ordering as well, although I noticed she did not order the super authentic Cambodian stuff. Some of it is not for civilians, very elemental, such as the Prahok that Matt H had.


            I should have posted much earlier but I wanted to try more dishes before I let the cat out of the bag. But yeah, just go. It is most likely the most down home Cambodian food you can find in Lowell. Henglay, while it doesn't have the flair of Cha Yen's Thai, or high energy output of the four chefs at Thao Ngoc's Vietnamese, is pretty much a direct wholesale transfer of a Cambodian kitchen. A must do.

        2. This place is legit. Good to see it getting some burn!

          1. Is that spicy calamari anything like the excellent version that was at the late lamented Thanh Thanh in Lowell on Chelmsford St? That place has been closed for years, and I have been looking for a replacement.

            My sister no longer lives in the Heng Lay's neighborhood, so it takes more effort to get to Lowell now. The other place that we miss from her old neighborhood is the Khemara.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Kunegunde

              Never had that calamari but this is spicy and kinda hmm very savory maybe garlic and even possibly some kind of fish paste? It ain't no Olive Garden rings that's for sure. Tastiest battered squid I've had.

              1. re: tatsu

                They use a lot of Prahok (fermented shrimp paste) in their stuff...

                1. re: tatsu

                  I finally had the calamari at Heng Lay a couple of weeks ago and it was really good. Different from the old Thanh Thanh version but in better ways. The batter is a bit rougher, and the spice is more from the chopped peppers and garlic instead of being dusted with chili powder. A big portion for $15.95. Tender and delicious. It was the only thing I could get that day, but I will definitely return for more.