Thanks to Chowhound I have gone from menu bully to ordering maven. I Had dinner at Yum Thai last week with Revrend Andy, Ellen and two tennis friends of The Rev's where this transformation took place.
The Rev presented me as his go-to-guy for Thai food, so armed with Zim's .pdf Yum Thai 'secret' menu, that FoodFirst kindly translated, thanks again FF, a couple of phone consults with Da Mayor of Chicago Chowhound, Vital Information, who is a regular, and printed past Yum Thai posts by Zim, Mumon and Da Mayor I was prepared to fulfill my charge. I am nothing if not task oriented.
It's taken me a while to warm up to Yum Thai, my first visit was nothing to write home about. Mainly Americanized versions of Thai standards, I believe Ellen referred to one dish as Thai hamburger helper. Even though I expressed interest in off-menu items, or at least less cornstarch/soy and more fish sauce/herb/lime type dishes it was not forthcoming. We were the typical new customer they were loath to 'offend'
Second visit was in the company of Da Mayor, always a treat, and my eyes were opened. Mon Curry with hunks of pumpkin, fragrant with shrimp paste and loaded with fresh shrimp, spicy catfish with string beans and tender squid scattered with finely cut garlic and glistening with lime and fish sauce, Yum, Thai. I was becoming a believer.
Fast forward to last Thursday, Linda and Gordon are semi-regulars at Yum Thai, they live in the area, but were only familiar with the pad Thai/spring roll side, that was about to change. I've had the pleasure of Linda and Gordon's company in the past so I knew they were adventurous eaters, the menu bully in me was about to be unleashed, though, for once, with everyone at the tables consent. (smile)
We started fast and loose with squid salad and Iisaan sausage from the Thai side of the menu and beef salad from the American, accompanied by three orders of sticky rice. Second round was Mon Curry, Snapper stir fried with string beans in a granular red curry and Chinese broccoli. The curry/string bean (Bplaadook phad phet) is typically served with catfish, but, as they were out of catfish that evening, we went with snapper. Having had both, I think the snapper works as well, if not a bit better than catfish, both are delicious.
Next round, was pork w/black pepper and garlic and a very fragrant, though surprisingly neutral tasting, mussels steamed with lemon grass. The mussels were served with a very garlicky sauce, which perked them right up. We also ordered additional sticky rice. As we were discussing how wonderful the meal was and how stuffed we were, I mentioned we had not had my favorite of larp. It took about 3-seconds to decide an order of larp was in order, I love dining with fellow foodies. (smile)
Linda and Gordon were blown away by the meal, as much for the fact that they had been to Yum Thai numerous times and never had an inkling as to what lay just below the surface. To paraphrase the new Governor of California, They'll be back.
It's been a really good Thai food couple of days for me as the next evening I had the always enjoyable privilege of dining with Harry V and the lovely Mrs. V at Thai Aree. Thai Aree was dead-on, each dish better than the next. Excellent service, low price, fantastic food and convivial company, what a great combination.
I also had lunch yesterday at a Thai restaurant that does not get mentioned often, Rosded. This is a modest Thai restaurant that is turning out, in my opinion, quality Thai food that is heads above the majority of Thai restaurants in Chicago. Though, IMHO, Spoon Thai, Thai Aree or, for that matter, Yum Thai, don't have to start looking over their shoulders anytime soon.
All this wonderful Thai food and I still haven't eaten at Spoon this week. I just love Chicago!
7748 W Madison
Forest Park, IL. 60130
Sunday 4 - 9
Tues Thursday 11:30am 9:30
Fri Sat 11:30 10:10
3592 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60641
Mon-Thur 11am -9pm
4608 N Western
Chicago, IL 60625
2308 W Leland Ave (4700 North on Lincoln Ave)
Chicago, IL 60625