so last night, labor day, I was out in Oak Park with the family visiting my dad and we are out trying to find dinner. Knowing that stuff closes early and often out there, we decide to drive along north avenue and hopefully find something palatable open. Johnnies-Closed, Massa-closed, Cafe bolero-closed--Even the little 24-hour diner at the corner of North and Harlem closed. We start gloomily forming back-up plans ("I think Jewel has prpeapared foods") When we notice at the corner of Oak Park and Harlem "Amarind Thai-Grand Opening". Hey it's worth a shot we figure.
as we go in two parties are leaving-unsolicited they tell us its "head and shoulders" over what is available in oak park. They ask us if we have eaten at Arun's (we have) they tell us the owner/cook used to be at that famous place. On the way in I look at the write-ups which detail his experience there-I am not sure he was the exec. chef but he did cook there.
The place is nice, not beautiful but definitely pleasant and attractive. We sit in the back. They bring out a special heart shape plate for my daughter (3 yrs old) which immediately she is happy about. when she breaks her plastic spoon later, unbidden they bring her another one, when she starts wondering why her napkin (paper) looks different from ours (blue cloth) unbidden they bring her a blue cloth one. They pay attention to the fact that she likes the chive dumplings are surprised and impressed (I am also surprised and relieved)
Which brings us to the real issue--the food.
Appetizers and salads
chive dumplings - a family favorite and a good rendition
stuffed chiken wings (with shrimp and chicken, shitake)also very tasty
tofu slad-large fried slices of tofu with slightly sweet sauce (passable)
spicy prawn salad-very good with good flavors of mint cilantro lime and ginger
for entrees we ordered a lot of standbys to get a baseline read-basil chicken, beef penang, pad see ew with tofu, tom yum goong. The tom yum had very nice flavor but could have usd more heat, the basil chicken was very nice and I enjoyed the inclusion of green beans in it. beef penang was ok.
for desert they offered three types of thai custard -Yucca Potato, Mung bean, and Glutinous Rice.I am a big thai custard fan and we ordered one of each. All wee tasty but the clear consensus winner was the Yucca Potato-dense with nice bits of cocunut flakes, the glutinous rice was also interesting in that it had sections of pressed pandans leaves giving a funky green color.
Is it worth a drive out--I don't think so (unless you're driving from the west) but it's better than anything else in the nearby vicinity i've had (including yum thai--much less sweet). Overall I could have used a little more heat and "earthiness" but we were pretty satisfied and ate past satiation
I had some more custard for breakfast.