I've always have had a love hate relationship with fusion cuisine. On one hand, we wouldn't be the beneficiaries of things like Banh Mi and Pho without the French colonization of Vietnam. Yet, on the other, we are often left with garbage Asian food found at such places like the defunct Lower Mainland locations of Rockford. So when the people at Bob Likes Thai Food opened up Thai Confusion in the old location of The Abbey (and before that, ironically Wild Rice), I was curious and amused at the same time with the concept and name.
Well, the Poutine Challenge brought Emily and I out to the newly opened eatery focusing on Thai tapas with a twist. We started off with the Bacon-Wrapped Lychee and Pineapple atop cucumber relish. Although Emily wasn't a huge fan of these, I thought they were decent with a plump (albeit canned) lychee and pineapple encased in a thick piece of rendered and meaty bacon. I'm not sure what type of bacon they used, but the salt content did not really stand up to the sweetness of the lychee. Next was the Chicken Satay with peanut sauce, relish and grilled bread. The chicken was fairly tender and decently charred, however the meat itself was not particularly marinated enough to stand on its own. The sauce was flavourful, yet too sweet and greasy.
Moving along, we decided to sample the Tom Kha with fried curry rice. With a classic galangal coconut milk soup base with basil, lemongrass and lime, the flavours were indeed familiar. However, I felt it could've been more rich as it was rather thin (more coconut milk perhaps?). The sticky rice was fried with red curry paste, lime leaves and sesame. I didn't get much of the 3 aforementioned items, but the texture of the rice was appealing. Something that had more impact in my opinion was the Gai Yang. It was fairly tender with well-rendered skin. The marinade penetrated the meat and I could definitely taste lemongrass and fish sauce. On the side was a nam pik which was an appetizing sweet, spicy and tart.
One of the more expensive and subsequently more filling items was the Pork Ribs with the same nam pik. The ribs were somewhat succulent with mild garlickiness and a soft exterior bark. Once again, the impact came from the nam pik which added the necessary acidity and spiciness. As for the Thai Poutine 2.0, it featured deep-fried taro strings lightly covered with as spicy green curry as well as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and red chilis. Beyond the aromatics, the whole thing was pretty spicy. On the side, there was a scrawny deep-fried soft shell crab. Due to its small size, it was more batter than crab.
Emily and I have something in common other than eating prowess. We like to order lots! So we continued with the Curry Fish in Banana Leaf. Since basa is generally a forgiving fish, it was still fairly flaky despite being overdone. I really didn't get much of the green curry, hence I had to use the charred lime to liven up the flavours. I did get the essence of coconut milk though. Our last dish was something that was a letdown. The Grilled Pork Cheek with roasted coriander seed, lemongrass and kaffir lime did taste smoky and well-seasoned on its own. However, the texture wasn't what we expected. Rather than the chewy rebound texture one would expect, the meat was dry where some pieces were very hard to break down. As you can probably ascertain, we weren't overly impressed with the Thai tapas concept at Thai Confusion. Sure, most of the items were fine, but nothing seemed to justify the prices for the small plates of food.
*Poutine was complimentary*
- Hip dining space
- Something different
- Food was not impressive
- Expensive for what we got