Woman sues spicy Thai food restaurant over too-spicy dish


If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the spicy Thai food restaurant.

A woman is suing a San Jose, Calif.-area restaurant and its employees for negligence and emotional distress, claiming that one of the eatery’s mega-spicy dishes was “unfit for human consumption” and left her with health issues that lingered two years after she ate it.

The complaint filed at the Superior Court of Santa Clara County on July 3 alleges that the diner, Harjasleen Walia, suffered “permanent bodily injuries” after trying the Dragon Balls appetizer at Coup de Thai in Los Gatos on July 15, 2021, according to the 14-page document reviewed by The Post.

The lawsuit, which was originally reported by the Bay Area News Group, claims that Walia “felt her entire mouth, the roof of her mouth, her tongue, her throat and her nose burn like fire” immediately after eating the dish.

The Dragon Balls are spicy chicken meatballs made with green onion, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, chili, and rice, per Coup de Thai’s online menu, which warns customers of the $11 dish’s heat with an image of a red pepper.

The customer is suing for burns she allegedly received from the Dragon Balls appetizer (above).
Marti L./Yelp

The lawsuit noted that Walia was aware the dish was spicy, but proceeded to order it even though she “does not tolerate spice,” asking the server to have a more mild version prepared for her.

Walia — who is a neurologist in San Jose — claims that the dish left her with chemical burns on both vocal cords, as well as the middle concha of her right nostril and esophagus, the lawsuit states.

“Harjasleen Walia was poisoned, made ill and burned necessitating medical care,” the scathing claim asserts.

“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.”

It was unclear from the suit if the plaintiff stopped eating after she began to experience adverse effects or if she finished the dish.

The appetizer is made with Thai chilis, which can range from 50,000 to 250,000 heat units, SFGate reported.

For context, jalapeño peppers range between 2,500 and 5,000 heat units, the outlet said.

The restaurant serves a host of reinvigorated Thai dishes, advertising its spicy food is akin to “fireworks” that “light up your mouth.”
Google Maps

In addition to the San Jose-area restaurant, Walia’s lawsuit also targets over two dozen individuals, including her server and any chefs and other employees — including “bartenders” and “shoppers” — who may have “influenced, designed, prepared, or participated in creating” the offending appetizer.

The Dragon Balls, her lawsuit claims, are “dangerous to life,” “unfit for human consumption,” and the staff at Coup de Thai was unprepared to cope with Walia’s severe reaction.

As a result, Walia’s attorneys wrote, the plaintiff is seeking general damages as well as remuneration for medical expenses, lost earnings and legal costs.

Coup de Thai squarely markets itself to heat-seekers, promising diners a “true revolution of your senses,” the lawsuit noted.

On its website, Coup de Thai promises diners a “revolution of [their] senses.”
Google Maps

“Fireworks light up your mouth from our traditional menu that puts the true ‘Thai’ back in command of Thai food,” the restaurant’s website reads.

The spicy Dragon Balls also appear to be a popular item: Several satisfied customers on Yelp name-checked the appetizer as a highlight of their experience, with one even calling the dish “heavenly.”

“We do not use too much chili spice in Dragon Balls,” a supervisor from the restaurant told Bay Area News Group, noting that the eatery had no previous complaints of the dish causing medical issues.

Neither Walia nor Coup de Thai immediately responded to The Post’s request for a comment.

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