Bangkok Spice was not so nice

We have a ritual here in San Diego to kick start the weekend.  We gather at Top of the Park, aka Inn at the Park, for cocktails before going out to dinner.  Friends were visiting from Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Francisco the weekend after Thansgiving for a wedding, which yours truly catered.  This became an extravaganza with personalities that matched all of Snow White’s seven dwarfs, and a little white dog too.  Imagine that!

Eight of us decided to have dinner at Bangkok Spice, on El Cajon, while the others went vegetarian.  We laughed at how miserable their dinner was going to be.  Lo and behold, ours was by far the less pleasant and more expensive meal.  Our review of Bangkok Spice is as follows: “Bangkok Spice is underwhelming, subpar, overrated and overprices.”  What we were served is the antithesis of Southeast Asian cuisine and lacked freshness and balance of flavors.

Bangkok Spice

The chicken satay was room temperature, dry, and rubbery.  It clearly had been cooked a long time ago and left sitting and I struggled with a piece like an accordion tug-of-war.   The calamari was heavily battered, dry, and old.  I tore the calamari rings apart and it was like pulling opaque string cheese.  Then their piece de resistance and highly recommended dish came, the sparsely filled and lacking in variety combo platter.  The curries were good, Waterfall Beef Salad and Drunken Noodles were decent enough but that Ka-no-moo Krob, Sautee Crispy Pork and Chinese broccoli with house sauce, was (inhale) disappointing (exhale).  The crispy pork bits were like pebbles and the sauce is nothing more than an oyster sauce base.

For appetizers, entrees, a round of beer, and gratuity of 15 percent, the meal ended up costing $28 per head.  I was clearly confused by my experience because the restaurant receives high marks and reviews on Yelp and Urbanspoon.  After further deliberation and discussion with friends about Bangkok Spice, we’ve come to two possible conclusions: there are two cooks, one good and the other bad, or one cook with the case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Which ever it may be, it doesn’t speak well about the restaurant since quality control and consistency is paramount.  I still can’t get over the chicken satay being the first thing that was served.

*This is a joint review by Chef Shawn Sei and Johnny Nguyen.  Johnny is a foodie and self-taught cook.  He will be contributing reviews of restaurants along with Chef Shawn Sei.


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