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Dirty Dining: Chao Thai

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Dirty Dining: Chao Thai

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Apr 10, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A big number of demerits shuts down a small Thai restaurant in this week's Dirty Dining.

And it brings Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears back to the area around UNLV, where a number of restaurants have caught health inspectors' attention, but not in a good way.

Most of our regular Dirty Dining viewers know by now that anything over 40 demerits is immediate closure for a restaurant.

Chao Thai on Maryland Parkway and Harmon got 61.

No hot water was a big part of the problem. But manager AJ Jun says they had some, just not enough.

"Somebody turned the hot water temperature down a little bit, so that's why it's not getting to the temperature that they want," Jun explained.

Inspectors say no one was washing their hands. Both handsinks were blocked--one by trays and one by a trash can.

"So they couldn't even get to the hand sinks to wash their hands and that's a huge health hazard," Spears pointed out.

Rice noodles, cut green onions, raw chicken, potatoes and fish sauce were at unsafe temperatures.

Jun blames that on a broken thermometer. But it looks like the fridge itself was having problems, because employees had placed ice packs on top of uncovered, raw meat.

AJ: The ice pack is just for the cook.
Darcy: The ice pack is for the cook's food? But it was sitting on top of raw meat.
AJ: It's different.
Darcy: It's different meat? That wasn't customers' meat?
AJ: No.

That didn't fly with inspectors. Chao Thai was ordered to throw out all the food in that fridge.

Inspectors also found the grease trap wasn't working.

Darcy: What happened with that? Was that broken also?
AJ: Not broken.  Just a switch
Darcy: And somebody didn't know it had been flipped off?
AJ: Right.

Utensils were stored in standing, murky water.

Rice noodles were being prepped on an unsanitary sink, next to a bucket of dirty mop water.

And then, there's this.

Darcy: Your freezer was crammed so full of food it looked like you guys were prepping for D-Day.  What's going on with that?
AJ: We have, you know, some party ahead of that.  So I just stocked some food.

Inspectors also found raw chicken in a plastic grocery bag on top of some carrots.

"Just brought from the market and, uh, I think that he didn't know to put it in the refrigerator," Jun said of the employee who'd gone to get the chicken.

A lot of what was in the fridge wasn't covered, or labeled.

Ice was being stored in a portable cooler.

And the bananas inspectors photographed had definitely seen better days.

But here's the coup de gras. The kitchen was doubling as an employee closet for cell phones, purses, even a bottle of perfume.

AJ: Maybe a small one, a small perfume.
Darcy: No, it was a full bottle of Elizabeth Arden perfume that was sitting right there with the food.
AJ: Umm...
D: Food and perfume don't mix
AJ: I don't know why someone would have done that.

The perfume was gone when AJ took us into the kitchen, but as we saw, the entire violation wasn't all cleared up.

Darcy: See this cell phone right here?  They don't like to see employee items like that mixed in with the food, so that would be something the health inspector would have a problem with.  You gonna move that?

He does.

Chao Thai was shut down on a Wednesday.  It wasn't until the following Monday that they were ready for re-inspection. 

They are once again open with an "A" grade.

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.