Snarling facemasks painted in rainbow colors hover above diners at Yak Thai Cuisine. Like the BYOB restaurant's name, these masks are a nod to the ogres, or yaks, of Thai folklore and are juxtaposed elegantly against the contemporary space's chocolate-brown color scheme. This contrast of old and new can also be found in the menu, which features traditional Thai dishes infused with modern culinary techniques and ingredients. An appetizer of smoked salmon is brought to life with a sprinkling of lime dressing, whereas spaghetti noodles are paired with kaffir-lime leaves and deep-fried soft-shell crab with chu chee curry sauce. Hot and cold teas offer a brief moment of thirst-quenching relief from spicy curries before diners dive into a dessert, such as homemade chocolate lava cake oozing with authentic magma.
Though Loving Hut has locations sprinkled across the globe, no two menus are the same. Whether in San Francisco or Toyko, the Asian-inspired vegan eatery’s talented chefs concoct dishes catered to local cuisines and ingredients. In Chicago, chefs work with a tasty textured vegetable protein—shortened to “TVP” on the menu. The protein is perfectly executed within Pan-Asian offerings, such as Korean barbecue and the Thai curry that “charmed” Chicago Magazine. Of course, chefs don’t use TVP in every menu item; salads boom with fresh produce, such as sweet potatoes, beets, and avocados, while veggie burgers showcase traditional tomato and pickle toppings. In line with the all-natural cuisine, Loving Hut’s “hut” surrounds patrons in earthy colors and textures. Furthermore, friendly reminders, such as “Share the World with All Beings,” are written across the walls.
The ingredient-smiths at Masala Indian & Mediterranean Cuisine construct an extensive menu of noodles, curries, and vegetarian specialties that blend Indian and Thai culinary staples. A clay oven fires flavored naan breads, as well as lamb, chicken, and seafood dishes augmented with piquant indian spices. Chefs prepare vegetarian options to appease meat-free maws, and a swath of Thai dishes combines rice noodles with meat, tofu, or veggies. Plates of fiery delicacies rest atop royal-blue tablecloths, surrounded by wood-lined walls and posters of famous curries autographed by the spices themselves.
Siam Country's skilled chefs whip up a menu of traditional Thai dishes infused with a revelry of seasonings and spices. Starter spring rolls and egg rolls insulate morsels of shrimp, bean sprouts, and tofu, and an array of curry dishes bulks up with juicy barbecue beef and flame-kissed slices of chicken. Tamarind sauces, basil leaves, and cilantro spark flavor fireworks in stir-fried noodle dishes, and mint leaves and lemongrass perk up salads packed with barbecue beef or ground tuna. Thai cream soda washes down spicy bites, and a savory Thai custard jabs mouths with a quick jolt of sweetness without the pain and shame experienced while boxing a gingerbread man.
Lemongrass, chili oil, and basil leaves spice the selections on Summer Noodle and Rice’s menu, but the thing that drives customers to the restaurant's sleek environs most might be the convenience—it's a stone's throw from the Granville Red Line stop. The BYOB eatery's Southeast Asian dishes range from traditional noodles such as pad thai to specials such as shrimp in spicy mango sauce. Beaded curtains ripple as waiters transport steaming dishes to sleek white tables and diners cast chopstick-dueling shadow puppets on orange-red walls.
Natural light filters through Thai Uptown’s floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating lime-green walls and wooden panels scored with twinkling bulbs. This light, however, can’t penetrate the curtain of steam that rises from the kitchen as chefs brew colorful curries and coat chicken and shrimp with spicy Thai chilies. Perennial favorites include duck noodle soup and stir-fried wok noodles, which guests can use to lasso their server in order to pay a compliment.