Where I’ve Been Eating, Chicago Edition

Posted by Krista on October 30, 2011

Native Foods, Wicker Park: I want to like Native Foods because I want to feel virtuous all the time. And you know, as a lover of food of all kinds, I can get down with veganism once or twice a year. But my Soul Bowl at Native Foods was two-thirds cardboard.  (The Soul Bowl is made up of Southern fried Native Chicken (i.e., not chicken), red beans, rice, steamed veggies, and kale dressed with ranch and BBQ suace and served with cornbread.) After eating half of this dish, I came to the sudden realization that I do not really like kale. The Native Chicken was pretty good, for not being chicken and all. I might go back here for my twice-yearly “I need to feel virtuous” visit but otherwise…meh.

Native Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon

DMK Burger Bar, Lakeview: I refuse to go back to Fish Bar, so after my last hair cut, I dropped into DMK for a burger.  They have a weird space issue going on…it’s like the space is just a little too big for them. But service was pretty cheerful and helpful and I liked my roasted hatch green chili, fried egg, sonoma jack and smoked bacon burger. My only complaint was the usual one: SOGGY BUN SYNDROME. I really need to remember to ask restaurants to toast my bun for me before serving. I really liked the lemon alioli they did with the sweet potato fries. Everything is served on small little plates though. That’s weird. I would still go back here though.

DMK Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

 

Siam Rice, The Loop: Dropped in here one afternoon for a quick work lunch. We got here on the early side, and for that I remain grateful. Because by the time we left, we couldn’t even get out the front door, so crowded was it. My Thai green curry — a standard by which I measure most Thai restaurants — was watery and missing its zip. I was very disappointed. I would not go back here. Or if I did, I would not have the green curry.

Siam Rice on Urbanspoon

Hot Woks, Cool Sushi: Another quick lunch during the work week. I love the idea of a bento box, but in this one, the only thing worth eating was the vegetable tempura. (With one battered shrimp thrown in for good measure.) The chicken teriyaki was dry and flavorless and the California rolls were oddly assembled. I would not go back here.

Hot Woks Cool Sushi Millenium Park on Urbanspoon

I am still way behind. More Chicago, plus Mexico City, Doha, Tel Aviv ahead. Stay tuned.

Posted in American, Burgers, Chicago, Lincoln Park, Loop, Pan-Asian, Thai, United States, Wicker Park | 2 Comments

Dinner at Next Restaurant’s Tour of Thailand

Posted by Krista on July 25, 2011

I’ll let the pictures do the talking. All very lovely. Even at 9:15 pm on a Sunday night…We four (an American, a Ukrainian, a Moldovan, and a guy from India — if that doesn’t sound like the start of a joke, I don’t know what does — paid $85 for our food, $75 for wine pairings. Irina (the Ukrainian) opted for the juices for $38.  Funnily, I had the same table as my first visit.

Roasted banana, prawn cake, sweet shrimp, fermented sausage, steamed bun

Hot & Sour Broth, Pork Belly, Tomato, Ginger

Rice

Catfish, Caramel Sauce, Celery, Coriander Root

Beef check, curry, peanut, nutmeg, kafir lime

Coconut, corn, egg, licorice

Inside the coconut

Dragon fruit, rose

Rooibos, palm sugar, milk

Service was nearly exactly the same as my other two visits, with two exceptions: They only replaced my napkin during one of my two trips to the loo, and they didn’t escort me there and back as officiously as Paris 1906.

I did like that although I had only bought two wine-pairings with dinner, they did let us add a 3rd wine pairing and the juices right there. (In contrast, during Paris 1906, we didn’t know one of our friends was pregnant until the night of the dinner. It wasn’t right for her to tell us sooner. I had already purchased the wine pairings for her. She downgraded to juices and well, still paid the full wine price.)

I still feel that the bathrooms could be more special. But these are piddly things to note when the experience overall is so lovely.

Posted in Chicago, Thai, United States, West Loop | 7 Comments

Opart Thai, South Loop

Posted by Krista on May 9, 2011

Opart Thai Spring RollsOpart Thai House
1906 S. State Street
Chicago

Date of Last Visit:  Monday, March 14, 2011

The Victims: Many

The Damage: About $25 per person

The Background: I’ve been reading with interest as Tammi over at Chicago Bites has been eating her way through the Opart Thai menu at the Lincoln Square branch of Opart Thai.

Now that’s my kind of challenge.

So when I had the chance to get in on a big group meal with lots of food at Opart Thai — the South Loop branch — I said YES. At something like $25 per person for a veritable feast of a set menu, it was more or less a no-brainer. (I’ve been using that phrase a lot lately. Apologies.)

Ah, high expectations…always destined to fail…

After our slimy and overly-sauced vegetable spring rolls, we were served up an order of the one Chinese-American-Thai appetizer that I’ve never been able to reconcile myself with…

Crab Rangoon…crab rangoon. Deep-fried cream cheese and scallions.

Personally…I think there’s only one place cream cheese belongs and that’s on a bagel. Bleh.

Opart Thai Tiger CryTiger cry. Well, let me tell if…if I were a tiger and someone gave me a bowl of this dry, over-cooked nonsense (beef), I’d cry too. Hard.

Opart Thai Tofu Pad ThaiThis was the pad thai. The wettest pad thai I’ve ever had. Dry tofu too.

Opart Thai Red Curry ShrimpThe red curry shrimp was about the only dish I had seconds of. The ratio of curry to shrimp, however, was like a gazillion-to-one.

Opart Thai Basil ChickenThe Basil Chicken reminded me of cat food.

Opart Thai Fried Banana, Thai CustardThe fried banana was nice though.

The Verdict: I think you get the point. The Lincoln Square location must be better because I really have no desire to ever go back here again.

Opart Thai House on Urbanspoon

Posted in Chicago, South Loop, Thai, United States | 3 Comments

Thai Village, Ukrainian Village

Posted by Krista on January 3, 2011
Thai Village, Ukrainian Village

Thai Village, Ukrainian Village

Thai Village
2053 W Division
Chicago

Date of Last Visit: Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The Victim: Me

The Damage: $20.

The Background: Thai Village must seriously have one of the best lunch specials in town. $5.95 for three courses!!! Until 3 pm every day of the week.

Of course, I got there at 3:11 pm.  No lunch special for me.

Thai Village Groupon

Groupon Has Been Here

Not only did I miss the lunch special, but if you can read that sign on the right, I also missed the Groupon. ($20 of food for $10!) I seriously wish I could help Thai Village with their signage. Such an atmospheric place. Such terrible signs.

Thai Village Crispy Roll

Thai Village Crispy Roll

To start, I took my server’s recommendation of the Crispy Roll: rice wrapper stuffed with ground chicken, vermicelli, egg & bean sprouts; topped with tart plum sauce & ground peanuts. Maybe there was plum sauce here; I’m not sure. What I can tell you is that there was a very bright and tangy citrus sauce that made me happy all day, just thinking about it. I enjoyed this.

Thai Village Pad Se Eu

Thai Village Pad Se Eu

Much less satisfying was the glumpy Pad Se Eu. It had none of the brightness of the Crispy Roll. (Hey, I wasn’t expecting a lot–this is Pad Se Eu after all–but give me something.) The noodles were stodgy. The broccoli was scarce. I took a few mouthfuls and then had the rest packed up for later. (Luckily, the crispy roll was a very generous portion.)

The Verdict: Thai Village has a Bib Gourmand. Maybe that’s because of the amazing $5.95 lunch special. I’m not sure. Because otherwise, I don’t get it. I don’t think they’re doing anything special. I mean, maybe I’d order Thai Village for delivery it was raining, but I wouldn’t make a special trip back.

P.S. Totally forgot to give a shout out to my fellow Chicago restaurant bloggers over at BYOB Bandits, whose post about Thai Village had me making the trip.

Thai Village on Urbanspoon

Posted in Chicago, Thai, Ukrainian Village, United States | 3 Comments

Busaba Eathai, Soho

Posted by Krista on February 1, 2010

Busaba menu 

Busaba Eathai
106-110 Wardour Street
W1F 0TR  

Date of Last Visit: Wednesday, December 16, 2009. (Yes, I've been sitting on a lot of posts!)

The Victim: Me

The Damage: £20

The Background: I used to think that 20 vacation days was pretty generous. Because you know, in America, you're lucky to get 10. If you're really really lucky, you get 15. (That being said, the US has more public holidays than the U.K. 10 in comparison to the U.K.'s eight. And we don't have any droughts…you know, like the drought between now and April, and the other drought between AUGUST AND FREAKIN' DECEMBER. WTF?)

I don't know about you, but I need some days just to get shit done. Weekends just don't cut it. By the time Saturday comes around, I'm exhausted. And I have to go to the dry cleaners. And the grocery store. And then it's 4 p.m. and the day is over. And then Sunday becomes this black hole of back-to-back Come Dine with Mes.

So it was that I found myself in HELL. Oxford Street on a Wednesday, less than ten days before Christmas. My whole idea about picking up some cute Christmas stuff at Liberty? Ruined. Liberty was decimated. Decimated! It was insane. I'd left things too late.

So I took myself out to lunch. At Busaba Eathai. And it was okay. What I liked most about it was the way it smelled. It was like a spa.

Busaba fishcakes 
What I liked least about it was the fishcakes. I always try to eat Thai fishcakes and they always taste like rubber. Must stop doing this.

Busaba Pad kwetio 

So then I had the Pad Kwetio. It was okay. Was it the best pad kwetio I've ever had? That's hard to answer because I've never had pad kwetio before. But was I eating it thinking, "So is this is the best thing ever"?? No. (For the record, that's the feeling I have whenever I eat the char kway teow at Sedap.)

The Verdict: Go for a massage first. And then go to Busaba Eathai. And then you tell me.

Busaba Eathai on Urbanspoon

Posted in London, Thai, United Kingdom, W1 | 22 Comments

Rosa’s

Posted by Krista on February 16, 2009
Rosas

Rosa's
12 Hanbury Street
E1 6QR

Date of Last Visit: Friday, January 30th

The Victims: Jen, Julie, Justine

The Damage: £20ish each

The Background: Fridays. Love Fridays. Don't make enough of them often enough. I don't plan ahead for them often enough. This time, we did. Feathers and Matt and others were over at The Drunken Monkey (which I've eaten at, but never written about for some reason or another), but we couldn't get another table, so we decided instead to eat in the general vicinity and then head to The Drunken Monkey afterwards for cocktails.

The Entrance: Rosa's is pretty modern-looking, for a Thai place. Good soft pink lighting. The Barbara Walters kind. I'm the first to arrive and I start chatting with the two people next to me…they loved, loved, loved their food. So I'm excited to try everything.

Rosas summer rolls

The Starters: Thai calamari. (Good.) Summer rolls. (Summery.) Chicken satay. (OK.) All in all, I'm not wowed. But the food is good. And hey, it's cheap.

Rosas pad se eu

The Mains: Three of the four of us order Pad Se Eu. I think like the noodles are too soft. Overcooked. It's just okay, maybe even a little less than okay for me. I still prefer the Pad Se Eu at Thai Thai and Suchard (another place I've never written about) better. And nothing will top the Pad Se Eu I had at The Regent, Bangkok many years ago.

The Verdict: The food is really decently priced. The atmosphere is a notch above your standard Thai place. The food, for me, is just so-so.

Rosa's on Urbanspoon

Posted in E1, London, Thai, United Kingdom | Comments Off

Rosa’s

Posted by Krista on February 16, 2009
Rosas

Rosa's
12 Hanbury Street
E1 6QR

Date of Last Visit: Friday, January 30th

The Victims: Jen, Julie, Justine

The Damage: £20ish each

The Background: Fridays. Love Fridays. Don't make enough of them often enough. I don't plan ahead for them often enough. This time, we did. Feathers and Matt and others were over at The Drunken Monkey (which I've eaten at, but never written about for some reason or another), but we couldn't get another table, so we decided instead to eat in the general vicinity and then head to The Drunken Monkey afterwards for cocktails.

The Entrance: Rosa's is pretty modern-looking, for a Thai place. Good soft pink lighting. The Barbara Walters kind. I'm the first to arrive and I start chatting with the two people next to me…they loved, loved, loved their food. So I'm excited to try everything.

Rosas summer rolls

The Starters: Thai calamari. (Good.) Summer rolls. (Summery.) Chicken satay. (OK.) All in all, I'm not wowed. But the food is good. And hey, it's cheap.

Rosas pad se eu

The Mains: Three of the four of us order Pad Se Eu. I think like the noodles are too soft. Overcooked. It's just okay, maybe even a little less than okay for me. I still prefer the Pad Se Eu at Thai Thai and Suchard (another place I've never written about) better. And nothing will top the Pad Se Eu I had at The Regent, Bangkok many years ago.

The Verdict: The food is really decently priced. The atmosphere is a notch above your standard Thai place. The food, for me, is just so-so.

Rosa's on Urbanspoon

Posted in E1, London, Thai, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

Coconut Grove Cafe

Posted by Krista on October 27, 2008
Coconut grove cafe

Coconut Grove Cafe
226 St. Pauls Rd
London N1 2LJ
Tel: 020 7226 6544

Date of Last Visit
: Sunday, October 19th, 2008

The Victims: Matt, Carolyn, Gerry, Ben, and two others whose names, sadly, escape me.

The Background: After a big day out at the Lewes Apple Fest, it was time for some dinner. Our train came back into Victoria, which made Highbury & Islington one of the easier places to get to…a straight shot on the Victoria Line.

Some of us were total dorks and whipped out Google maps to see what the closest restaurants to Highbury & Islington might be. Thai Corner Cafe popped up as highly recommended on one of the London restaurant guides we consulted, but upon arrival, we were told that they were fully booked. (Interesting for a Sunday! And true by the looks of it.) But they led us around the corner to Coconut Grove Cafe, a restaurant they apparently own as well.

The Starters: We split an order of spring rolls and prawn crackers to start. The spring rolls were just deep-fried bits of deep-friedness. Filling and delicious only because of the amount of cider we had consumed earlier.

Spring rolls

The Mains: I opted for my old stand-by. Pad Se Eu with Chicken. It was okay. Missing something. Maybe more fish sauce? It needed a little bit more saltiness to it. It looked nice though. All the dishes looked really nice. If anything, they get points for presentation.

Pad se eu

The Decor: Kinda cute. Very Thai. And it looks like they have a nice little garden when they weather is nice.

The Loos: In need of a deep clean.

The Verdict: Eh.

Posted in London, N1, Thai, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

Patara

Posted by Krista on August 12, 2008

Patara
15 Greek Street
W1D 4DP
Tel: 020 7437 1071

Date of Last Visit
: Saturday, August  10, 2008

The Victim: Anonymous Male

The Damage:  £22.50 each

The Background: I’ve got a lunch date. A date-date. And I’ve totally messed things up because I’ve got a few too many things going on, on, on. I need to have a leisurely and one-would-hope swooningly romantic lunch AND I need to be in Clerkenwell at 2:45. Nothing very romantic about clock-watching. Especially when you don’t wear a watch. Or a clock.

I pick–nothing like letting the girl pick–Patara because K&A used to rave about it. It’s Thai and I like Thai. A lot.

Because of what I’ve done to myself, schedule-wise, I suggest 12:15 p.m., knowing painfully that no true English man eats Lunch at 12:15. You wait until the little hand has reached 1 p.m. now don’t you?

I’m there at 12:08. He’s there at 12:11. We are the first people in the restaurant. He notes that it’s damn early for lunch. I apologize.

The Service: They’re quiet and friendly and NICE. Really nice.

The Ambiance: K&A have suggested well. There’s something restful about Patara. It’s darkly romantic. Part of me wants to suggest they open a spa.

The Food: Spicy tofu to start for me and it IS spicy. And nice. BUT they’ve cut the tofu cubes into quarters of cubes and they seem dry and, well, OLD. It’s nice, but. I order the pad thai as my main–described on the English menu as noodles and prawns. They get points for presentation because really, it was a lovely looking dish when it arrived. I wanted to take a photo but I wasn’t ready to reveal my blogging alter-ego just yet. Hopefully he hasn’t Google’d or Facebook’d me. I enjoyed my main.

The Verdict: I like Patara. I’d go back. With him? Now wouldn’t you like to know…

Patara on Urbanspoon

Posted in London, Thai, United Kingdom, W1 | 5 Comments

Thai: Isarn

Posted by Krista on June 23, 2008

Isarn_insideIsarn
119 Upper Street
N1 1QP
Tel: 020 7424 5153

Date of Last Visit: Sunday, June 15

The Victim: Me

The Damage: £9

The Background: If you haven’t noticed, I have no problems dining alone. So it was that I found myself wandering up Upper Street the other Sunday and stopping in front of Isarn just as my stomach was starting to talk. I’ve been intrigued by Isarn for quite some time, but for some reason or another, I’ve never stopped in. Isarn is owned by Alan Yau’s sister, Alan of Hakkasan and Yauatcha, his sister of I don’t know where.

The Entrance: I kinda dig Isarn’s decor. I alternatively hate and love the chairs, which are covered with some sort of mottled cow. The service is prompt enough and sweet enough.

The Food:They’ve got a lunch special, so I stick with that–a green chicken curry with some sort of fish cakes and a slice of fruit. The fish cakes are rubbery and awful, frankly. The green curry is nice, but there’s just not enough of it. (Although for the price–£5.90–perhaps there was just enough of it.) The slice of watermelon is a nice touch.

Isarn_lychee_tea_2What I liked most was my lychee tea, not a bargain at £2.50 but very prettily presented, unique and interesting. 

The Verdict: I prefer the food at the Thai place up the street. But I do like the feel of Isarn.

Isarn on Urbanspoon

Posted in London, N1, Thai, United Kingdom | 2 Comments

Thai: Rabieng

Posted by Krista on April 17, 2008

Rabieng
143 Upper Street
N1 1QY
Tel: 020 7226 2014

RabiengDate of Last Visit: Sunday, April 12

The Victim: Me, myself, and I

The Damage: £10.00

The Background: Today is the Thai New Year. I only know this because I thought about eating at Isarn, but they were closed for the Thai New Year. And I thought this was sad because I had just had a massage at Kobkun and I wish I had known it was the Thai New Year because I would have wished them a Happy New Year. They are the nicest people ever.

So I keep walking to the other Thai place that I know is on Upper Street. And there it is. Not so full. But not so empty either. Rabieng And they’re having a special. Two courses for £6.95! Fantastic. I enter and it’s so clean and neat and the servers are really sweet and they take my umbrella for me. (My umbrella is HUGE. Something I’m very happy about with all this freaking weather we’ve been having. HAIL???) There is a little candle on each table, and they bring me my own little pot of jasmine tea.

The Food: I get some dumplings of some sort, which are just okay. (Pork? Seafood? I think they’ve got everything in there.) I’m slightly suspicious that they came from a big vacuum pack with "Thai Warehouse" or something stamped on it. Better is the Pad Se Eu with Chicken. Is it the best I’ve had? No, not really. But it’s pretty good. And at £6.95 for two courses, I’m super pleased.

The Verdict: I’ll be back if I need a casual neighborhood place for lunch or dinner.

***Time is Running Out! Get Your Chance to Win a Michelin-Starred Dinner with Me! Submit Your Guest London Restaurant Review by Friday at 11:59 p.m.***

Rabieng Thai on Urbanspoon

Posted in London, N1, Thai, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

Thai: Nid Ting

Posted by Krista on October 29, 2007

533 Holloway Road
N19 4BT
020 7263 0506

Img_2310

Hot ChipThe Warning

Date of Last Visit: Sunday, October 21

The Victim: Me

The Damage: £10

The Background: Sometimes, a gal just needs to get out of the house. I was tired of laundry, shopping, TV, blogging, my Blackberry, many things. A while back, I questioned the staff at Kobkhun Thai on the Essex Road about where they go for Thai food, the response was pretty unanimous: Nid Ting, on Holloway Road, across from the Petrol station. I’ve been storing this little nugget away for just the right day. This was it.

Nid Ting’s location on Holloway Road is on a bit of a bleak stretch. There are fruit machines everywhere. I was a little curious about the last vestiges of a street market  I passed as I made my way down from Archway Tube, but not so curious as to stop and research.

The Entrance: They’ve JUST opened. There are many news clippings in the window. Charles Campion is staring back at me. The staff’s children are in control of the restaurant when I enter, but they’re sent to a back corner once I take my seat.

The Starter: They are dumplings of some sort. I am imagining gyoza/pot stickers, but what I get are big golf balls of pork and veggies. They are only okay. I am disappointed.

The Entree: I go for the Lad Na, which is my 2nd favorite Thai noodle dish after Pad Se Eu. It arrives and it is a soupy mess. I think there is some fake crab meat in there. I am not an expert on fake crab meat, so don’t quote me. But it all just seems overly gloopy to me. And there’s a surfeit of noodles. It’s mostly gloop. And carrots. I am so disappointed.

The Departure: The staff wish me a warm farewell. They are very sweet. (And I like their outfits.) The loos could use a good powerwash. 

The Verdict: Not worth the trip for me. 

Nid Ting on Urbanspoon

Posted in London, N19, Thai, United Kingdom | 3 Comments