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Where to dine this weekend: Thai Spice

BY BEN VERHILLE | FEBRUARY 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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The humble exterior of the building was nothing compared to the dedication and detail put into the inside of Thai Spice, 1210 S Gilbert St.

Bamboo, Thai elephant statues, and ceremonial swords sit for sale in the entryway, surrounding a friendly lounge complete with couches and a coffee table, as well as pictures of what I assume to be the governing leader of Thailand. 

I've been asking for dining suggestions from my friends and coworkers, and Thai Spice seemed to be the favorite of everyone in my fraternity. And while Thai Spice seemed to be a common denominator among my brothers, they couldn't agree on a dish for me to try. It was to the point where I was told to try eight or more different plates, leaving me to decide on whatever popped out on the menu.

Big mistake.

This menu is MASSIVE. There are 47 different options just on the entrée section, not including the specials section or any of the extensive soup collection. Basically, ask your friends what to try (some of them have been here, I guarantee it) or the waiter. You won't be able to decipher this massive list by yourself.

Honestly, I just stared at the menu for a while, looking for that special thing. Reading the plates and ingredients doesn't help because everything sounds amazing. Not so much the names though, which are often in Thai.

My weakness for pineapple led me to try entree No. 3: Fried Rice with Pineapple. The dish included stir-fry rice with shrimp, chicken, pineapple, and onion. The fried rice is a solid foundation to this plate, browned to perfection and flavorful to boot. The bites of pineapple provide a burst of hot fruit in which the tangy taste simply teases you, making you wish you had more. The shrimp weren't of the highest caliber and required some manual labor to remove the tail. They tasted great along with a bite of the pineapple or rice, but they were not impressive by themselves. The chicken pieces were very modest and relatively bland, but they mixed well with the rest of the plate.

My one complaint about this dish is the excessive amount of onion. I love onions as a flavoring but not as a defining factor of a meal. There was more onion than pineapple in my mixture.

If I thought the menu was big, the portions were bigger. My one order kept me sustained for two meals, both of which left me stuffed and satisfied.

No expense is left behind to make sure the plates are filled with fresh ingredients, plenty of spice, and a large serving. This makes sense, when you look at the cost of the plate. Mine was about $13.

I could spend my life savings eating here and exploring the menu. I will eagerly return to try more of these delicious plates. Next time I want to sit on the pillows and dine at a low table, as I would in Thailand.

Take a very, very special guest here. Or pay for your own plate, it gets pricey fast … But it's worth it.


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