You know how a masterful chef can turn any dish into a love letter, the tender touch of curious fingers, a loving whisper in your ear? What Thai Spice Fusion is doing to Thai cuisine is sodomizing it in a public restroom, accompanied by loud grunts and the sound of Nazareth's ”Love Hurts” through cracked speakers.
Dzirnavu iela 55 has seen many different establishments come and go, but for now, this address is home to the latest newcomer on the Riga Thai food scene, Thai Spice Fusion. At first, I was terrified because of the name, expecting ”exciting and innovative” madness such as Pad Thai with griķi or curries with biezpiens. Luckily, though, I haven't been able to figure out what constitutes the ”fusion” part. In the menu, I see only more or less traditional Thai dishes. But here is where the positives end.
”POUR YOURSELF A BUCKETFUL OF MEKONG WHISKY AND SIT DOWN”
On one of my first visits, the staff asked me how I liked the food, their eyes beaming with desperation. I felt so bad for them that I forced a constipated smile and murmured ”it was alright”. I was lying through my teeth. If anyone from the staff is reading this, pour yourself a bucketful of Mekong whisky and sit down, because this is gonna hurt: I literally thought I'd died and gone to hell. That's how bad your food is. Now, dear readers, let me take you on a guided tour through Hades.
The first dish that I tried was the Thai classic Gai Pad Med Mamuang. It was so atrocious I came close to getting up and leaving. The ultra dry pieces of chicken were chewier than my shoes and there was not the slightest hint of flavor. The Green Curry Beef was... well, ”beef” my ass. It looked like pork and tasted like tuna. I don't know what it actually was, and ignorance sometimes really is bliss. Also, the curry itself tasted all wrong and was not even recognizable as green curry. The fried rice with chicken was amateurish at best.
After this vicious assault on my taste buds, I had to pause for six weeks before I felt masochistic enough to give Thai Spice Fusion one last shot. Hoping that some firm schooling had taken place in the kitchen, I decided to give the Gai Pad Med Mamuang another go. And lo and behold, there was actually some improvement. The dogs' toy store must finally have run out of rubber chicken, because the dish was now edible and even had some flavor. However, as if to compensate for this positive change, the dish was absurdly sweet, almost reminiscent of hoisin or teriyaki. Yes, adding a small pinch of sugar for bringing out more flavor is a neat trick in many cuisines, but for chrissakes, go easy on it! I actually had trouble finishing my meal because of the sweetness.
”A BRAIN FART OF GALACTIC PROPORTIONS”
If this description of culinary masochism doesn't dissuade you, let me tell you about how the place looks. The interior designer either suffers from severe inflammations of the wits, or just had a brain fart of galactic proportions. The bar section, visible from the street, is the only decent looking part of the restaurant. Move a bit further in to the two other sections, though, and you'll start wondering what the hell they were thinking. The furniture is the scruffy-looking kind people like to dump in the woods, not one item matches another, and there is not a single detail to suggest that this is a Thai restaurant. It was an instant throwback to my first apartment when I was 19 and had about €19 with which to buy furniture. Also, my dentist has cozier lighting, and better music.
The wonderful world of Thai food will never strike a chord with the Latvian people if it's constantly being represented here by mediocre chefs, complete hacks or amateurs with more enthusiasm than skill. It doesn't matter that their staff is friendly, and that the Thai lady operating behind the scenes seem super sweet – I for one will not support this sad development, and I will not go back to Thai Spice Fusion.
Dzirnavu iela 55