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Chicago Area Cambodian

Teevy Cafe (Cambodian)

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Teevy Cafe (Cambodian)

Rene G | Apr 30, 2002 06:54 PM

Thanks to Tom for the tip on the new Cambodian restaurant. I’ve passed by there many times and never gave it a second look. It really doesn’t appear promising with its bright yellow sign "China Fast Food / Fish & Chicken / Chinese & American" and very basic waiting area. On March 10th they started the Cambodian menu and there are only small signs in the window advertising this. I believe it’s now the only restaurant serving Cambodian food in Chicago. According to the owner there are a number of Cambodian-owned restaurants but they all serve Thai food.

At the moment Teevy is takeout and delivery only with about 10 Cambodian soups and entrees on the menu as well as several appetizers and desserts (not listed). There’s a larger, fairly generic Chinese menu, from fried rice to egg foo young to orange chicken. I haven’t tried any of this. In a couple months they hope to have about 15 more Cambodian items and to remodel, adding some tables. I’m hoping they realize there’s an audience for Cambodian food (go there!!) and will add more--and more adventurous--choices to the menu.

Rob has mentioned the cha kroeung sach mon ken (spicy ground chicken, #14) and kor ko (beef stew, #18) that I brought along last Wednesday to go with our beer and some candy from Old Fashioned (a great place judging from what I tasted). The chicken dish is characteristically Cambodian, based on kroeung, a paste of lemon grass, galangal, turmeric, garlic, and shallots. The beef stew, with its almost Indian-style cinnamon-scented thick gravy, is distinctive too.

On a return visit I tried the beef counterpart (#15) of the spicy ground chicken and it was even better (I think by that time I had convinced them I like spices). Again the meat was chopped into fine bits and was stir fried with kroeung plus green, red (dry), and orange (Scotch bonnet) chiles. A great dish.

The spicy sour soup (somlaw maju kroeung sach mon, with chicken, #22) was outstanding as well though I somehow ended up with the beef version (not on the menu). A very interesting mix of flavors similar to but distinct from some hot/sour Thai soups. There was a lot of hollow-stemmed water spinach (translated as water crest on the menu) which was a very nice touch.

Another interesting dish is the green papaya salad (#10). This is prepared two ways: with crab paste or dried shrimp. We went for the crab which was salty, sour, and pungent yet not overpowering.

The chicken or beef kabobs (#4, 5) are also worth a try. Similar to Thai satay but with slightly different spices, they are served with a salted cabbage and carrot salad.

Both the deep-fried egg rolls (#2) and fresh spring rolls (#11-13) were respectable but not as distinctive as the other Cambodian dishes. They came with a thin reddish dipping sauce similar to Vietnamese nuoc cham.

My least favorite dish was the creamy chicken soup, somlaw k’teeh (#23). This turned out to be quite similar to many Thai red curries (I think I’ve finally ODed on this dish) but a little soupier. There was really nothing wrong with the dish and many Thai food fans ought to like it.

Desserts aren’t listed on the menu but it is worth asking if anything is available. I enjoyed a square of num go, a coconut and bean mixture. Even better was the bat bin, a banana and tapioca (?) sweet.

The owner Sinad (sp?) and his younger brother Sophoan are the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. They patiently and enthusiastically gave me an introduction to Cambodian cooking while my food was being prepared. Incidentally Sophoan was written up in the Tribune last month as the city’s spelling champion ("cuisine" was the word that sent him to the nationals).

Even though you can’t eat there I’d recommend visiting in person, discussing the menu, finding out if there’s anything new, assuring them you’re an adventurous eater and interested in Cambodian food. But if you can’t get there and just want to have something delivered (not sure about area), here are most of the Cambodian items from the menu. Rice is included with most. These English names of the dishes hardly begin to describe them.

#2 - Egg rolls (2) - $1.80
#4 - Beef kabobs - $5
#5 - Chicken kabobs - $5
#10 - Papaya salad (crab sauce or dried shrimp) - $5
#11 - Spring rolls (2) chicken, pork & veggie - $2.50
#12 - Spring rolls (2) shrimp & veggie - $2.75
#13 - Spring rolls (2) veggie - $2.50
#14 - Spicy ground chicken stir fry - $4.50 small / $6.50 large
#15 - Spicy beef stir fry - $4.50 small / $6.50 large
#16 - Chicken stir fry with ginger - $4.50 small / $6.50 large
#17 - Chicken stir fry with basil - $4.50 small / $6.50 large
#18 - Beef stew - $6
#19 - Chicken sour soup - $5.50
#20 - Shrimp sour soup - $6
#21 - Catfish sour soup - $6
#22 - Spicy chicken sour soup - $5.50
#23 - Creamy chicken soup - $5.50

Teevy Cafe
4418 N Broadway
Chicago
773-728-2854
Tue-Fri 4:30pm-1am; Sat-Sun 11am-1am
Late night delivery 6 days a week

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