Wow, what a comeback! I have now been to Thai mini-restaurant Kotai three times. On my first visit they had just opened and the food was, quite honestly, the worst garbage I have ever tasted. Nothing about the restaurant or the food was even remotely reminiscent of Thai food. It simply tasted like anonymous ednica food, and starved as I was for a Thai restaurant in Riga, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. My second visit was about a year ago, and even though they had spiced things up with lots of chili, it still didn't have much to do with Thai food. So when the time came to write this review, I simply went there to arm myself with what I thought would be the final nail in their coffin. But much to my positive surprise, the joke was on me.
”FINALLY MY BRAIN WENT 'THAAAAAI...'”
I'm not sure what has happened since I was last there, but finally my brain went "Thaaaaai..." when I smelled all the Thai ingredients that were lacking on my previous visits. In the kitchen was some dude looking like Mr Bean's lesser known brother, and perhaps he is the X factor behind Kotai's transformation. Suddenly my dish (some stirfried chicken with rice) was spicy, packed some punchy flavor and actually felt rather genuine. However, a bit of unbalance seems to still linger, because the second dish I tried was a noodle and chicken wok which was quite unimpressive and didn't really convince me. Also, their menu is quite limited, and even though they have added a few dishes lately, Kotai mainly focuses on various soups and noodle dishes.
”SOME GUY LOOKING LIKE MR BEAN'S LESSER KNOWN BROTHER”
Kotai has come a long way since they opened, but I still wouldn't rate them as great or even very good. They need to keep improving in the kitchen before I would recommend the place. In another city with even a hint of competition, Kotai would have to struggle hard to stay in business. However, I'm impressed with the progress that they have made since opening. It's all too common that restaurants go the other way, meaning that they get lazy and don't push themselves to even keep their initial quality.
Service is fast, attentive and the staff speak good English. If Thai is your thing and you want a fast, snack-sized bite, please try Kotai out. I still dream, however, of a proper Thai restaurant, with Thai interior and a large menu with the best that Thailand has to offer. Riga deserves one.