Blonde. Blue eyes. Pasty paler than Marilyn Manson under a blacklight. He has permanent facial hair. He’s short. In fact, he’s not just short, he’s shorter than you when your wear 4”stiletto heels, and you wouldn’t wear a pair of flats no matter how trendy Tory Burch has made them.
He’s not your type, even though you have adamantly claimed to not have a type that he could not be, not because you’re an EOD (equal opportunity dater), but because you don’t believe in “types.” So you don’t have a type, but you know the attributes that are attractive to you – tall, dark, and hotsome – and he is, beyond a five o’clock shadow of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed doubt, the exact opposite of all of them.
He is your anti-type.
Even though you say say you hate every hateful restaurant on and around the hateful Promenade, you say you can’t stand Thai food, you say that a fate worse than Pad Thai would be Pad Thai Potato Salad fusion…
You can’t stop having lunch at The Orchid, Thai Fusion Cuisine about a block from the Promenade.
If it weren’t for co-workers, I might never have set foot inside The Orchid. I had seen the restaurant many times, passing it on the way to other dining destinations that were the least offensive of the offerings around the Promenade like I Cugini and, yeah, just I Cugini. The fact that the restaurant’s name was “The” Orchid, as opposed to simply “Orchid,” the fixed epithet of “Thai Fusion Cuisine” irritated me for no other reason than my wanting to be annoyed, and a tacky sandwich board on the sidewalk out front advertising lunch specials in neon colors to attract naïve tourists. However, never one to turn down the opportunity to expense a working lunch, I tagged along to “The” Orchid, “Thai Fusion Cuisine.”
The space is clean, but in what seems an effort to emphasize the theme of “fusion,” the décor ends up not knowing what it wants to be. I know nothing about interior design, but most notably, starck white, retro plastic chairs with bright red cushions that look like they belong on the rooftop of the downtown Standard hotel clash with heavy, dark wood tabletops and other more Asian interior features. A bar toward the back seems to indicate that The Orchid might have a nightlife, but I can’t imagine that anyone ever says to a group, “Hey, let’s hit up The Orchid tonight to party like rockstars.” Thai, retro, daytime lunch, nightlife, The Orchid is confused about its identity. Strangely, I can totally relate.
When it comes to Thai food, I am not adventurous. There aren’t too many cuisines that I dislike in their entirety for whatever reason, but when the rare occasion presents itself, I can almost always find something I can eat and enjoy. When I was not on eating terms with Italian-American, I relished chopped antipasto salads. Vietnamese? Bring me a double order of spring and summer rolls. I even had a short-lived hate affair with sushi, that threw me into the loving arms of tofu. In Thai cuisine, anything with coconut milk or lemongrass makes me do things with my face that are extremely unattractive, which rules out most of the curries. I am also not fond of overly sticky sweet preparations of savory foods, but I can work myself into a hot, sweaty frenzy with spice.
At lunch, The Orchid (Thai Fusion Cuisine)’s menu offers standard Thai food – red and green curries, sauces, noodles, and rice with a choice of beef, chicken or tofu. My go-to items are either spicy eggplant (whole Thai basil leaves are easy to pluck out) or tofu with green beans. The food is Thai, but The Orchid’s “fusion” is in the presentation. Lunch specials are served in bento boxes, red and black lacquer boxes with multiple compartments that are more common in Japanese restaurants.
Each compartment holds a side item separate from everything else in an anal retentive diner’s moist toweletted dream. Fried wontons, fried to dark and hard, weave some South Asia into the bento quilt with a mild curry flavor in the dry filling, the chewy rice actually reigns a deep dark purple formerly known as “brown,” and if you were wondering about “American,” a small green salad features dried cranberries on baby spinach. Because nothing says fusion more loudly than Thanksgiving in a bento box.
The main event always looks fresh, though I am not all that fond of the way The Orchid prepares tofu. One inch cubes of tofu are deep-fried, which as a starter, could quite possibly oust Frenc
h fries as a snack for me, but in a stir-fry, has a strange texture. Still, I appreciate that The Orchid has respect for vegetables by only lightly stir-frying bean sprouts, broccoli, carrots, and onions to retain their crisp.
The Orchid might have every other thing going against it, but flavor and tastes, well that's a "chemistry" thing, anyway.
Santa Monica, CA 90401