(KRON) – Everyone has different tolerances for spicy food. But a diner in the San Francisco Bay Area is alleging that one particular restaurant’s appetizer was so spicy that it was “unfit” for human consumption.
The diner, Harjasleen Walia, filed a civil lawsuit earlier this month accusing Coup De Thai in Los Gatos — as well as the restaurant’s cook, waitressing staff, and owner — of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Walia, in her lawsuit, said the restaurant’s “Dragon Balls” appetizer was so spicy that she suffered burns on her vocal cords, esophagus, and nose.
“Harjasleen Walia was poisoned, made ill and burned necessitating medical care,” the lawsuit claims. “Her throat and voice has been damaged. She incurred permanent injuries and will forever be damaged to her body. These consequences are the direct result of defendants serving to her foods unfit for human consumption.”
Walia is demanding compensation for medical expenses and loss of income.
Walia dined at the restaurant, located at 137 North Santa Cruz Avenue, with a friend in the summer of 2021, according to the lawsuit. The two ordered the restaurant’s Dragon Balls appetizer, a deep-fried “ball” of chicken made with “mint, shallot, green onion, cilantro, kaffir lime leave, chili and rice powder,” according to a current online menu.
“The dish was advertised as spicy, so Ms. Walia asked her server (Doe 1) to have it made with less spice as she does not tolerate spicy foods,” the lawsuit claims. “The dish arrived and the plaintiff began to eat. Almost immediately plaintiff felt her entire mouth, the roof of her mouth, her tongue, her throat and her nose burn like fire. She began coughing. They told the waitress (Doe 1) right away that yogurt or something like that (some other milk product) was needed because the dish was too spicy. However, the server (Doe 1) said, ‘we don’t have yogurt.’”
The waitress failed to provide any dairy products to help cool Walia’s mouth, according to the suit.
“Given no alternative, plaintiff drank an entire glass of coconut water and more water, but the burning did not subside,” attorney Mark Zanobini wrote in the lawsuit. “As a direct and proximate result of eating this food plaintiff began to lose her voice.
“She was later diagnosed with a chemical burn to both vocal cords, a chemical burn to the middle concha of the right nostril and a chemical burn to the esophagus.”
In a statement provided to the Bay Area News Group, a supervisor at Coup de Thai responded to the woman’s claims, saying, “We do not use too much chili spice in Dragon Balls.”
It is also not possible to make the dish less spicy depending on customers’ heat preferences, the supervisor said.
Coup De Thai’s website describes its cuisine as “a true revolution of your senses. Fireworks light up your mouth from our traditional menu that puts the true ‘Thai’ back in command of Thai food.”
The woman’s lawsuit asks the court to grant a jury trial, and the case is scheduled to be heard in Santa Clara County court on December 5.
The lawsuit, as filed with the Santa Clara County Superior Court earlier this month, can be viewed in its entirety at Nexstar’s KRON.
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