The thread on Chinatown below, which discusses the distinctions between "Chinese" Chinese, and Americanized Chinese, ordered in the same restaurant,reminds me that I wanted to review this Park Ridge Thai, located in the strip mall off Northwest Highway, just south of Touhy, across the street from Oberweiss Ice Cream. I'm no expert on Thai food, but I thought that my meal on Saturday night was quite good, and suspect that those more conversant with this cuisine would be favorably impressed.
Our order was an even split between the common standards (egg roll appetizer,Pad Thai entree) and the more exotic--not really, especially for folks on this board, but you know what I mean--(Tod Mun and spicy fried catfish).
I did not care for the tod mun (fishcakes), but I don't think this was the chef's fault. I had never tried this dish before, and was expecting a Thai version of a crab cake. There appeared to be a sheet of tofu wrapped around these to hold them together, and I thought this gave it an unpleasantly rubbery texture.
The eggrolls, on the other hand, were outstanding--fried to perfection, crisp, greaseless, and stuffed with a tasty pork mix. These are the tiny, thumb sized rolls, and you get 10 per order--more than enough for two to share.
The Pad Thai was as good a rendition as I've had anywhere--not overly peanut flavoured, the chicken cooked to perfection, and the noodles perfect.
The real winner was the spicy fried catfish. Like the eggrolls, the pieces were fried to perfection--crisp, greaseless, just great. The accompanying peppers, onions, eggplant, and sauce was also fine--although I could have eaten the catfish plain.
I'm always impressed by chefs who can do a good job of frying, perhaps because its the area of cooking I have the most difficulty with--I can never get that crisp, grease-free coating. Someone in the kitchen at this joint knows their stuff, and I urge anyone in the area to give it a try.
Now for the question. Is there a concentrated Thai community in Chicago or the suburbs? Given the staggering (ok, not staggering, but there are a lot) amount of Thai restaurants in the City and suburbs, and the fact that they all employ about 6-10 people, all of whom appear to be Thai, one can posit the existence of a statistically significant number of Thais in Chicago. However, I cannot think of any neighborhoods where there is a noticeable presence. I know there are a few Thai stores around Argyle, but I cannot think of any other neighborhoods where the Thai community is centered. Any thoughts?