True to its name, 15 dishes on Siam Taste Noodles' menu are made with noodles and offer plenty of taste. Rice noodles soak up the spicy-sour broth of tom yum soup, and glass noodles tumble with egg, baby corn, and mushrooms in pad wun sen. The kitchen also crafts dishes such as chicken in garlic sauce and panang curry, which are some of the most popular entrees as determined by the number of diners who save a seat for them at their table.
Though the chefs at Thai Linda Cafe 2 like meals spicy, they also aim to please customers by customizing each entree's intensity with spice levels that range from mild to incendiary. Housemade peanut sauce, lime leaves, and aromatic ginger also lend their distinctive flavors to the menu of familiar Thai staples, which includes pan-fried noodle dishes, curries, and roasted duck. To accompany its complexly seasoned cuisine, the BYOB eatery invites diners to either bring a bottle of wine from home or bring along a bootlegger who can distill their green tea into moonshine.
Every Friday and Saturday night, an insiders-only karaoke jam fills Dharma Garden's pastel-colored walls with music. During a recent visit by Time Out Chicago, the crowd—mostly comprised of staff members from other Thai restaurants—burst into applause as Dharma chef and owner Vilairait Junthong, AKA "Little Aunt," grabbed the mic to sing her favorite tune, Sirintra Niyakorn's "Roo Wa kao lhok," which roughly translates to "You Treat Me Wrong".
In the more than ten years since arriving in Chicago from her hometown of Prajinburi, Little Aunt has done more than just bulk up Dharma's Thai menu. Chicago Thai restaurants Sticky and Spoon Thai have called on Junthong to outfit their menus with Northern Thai specialties such as marinated beef jerky and Chinese-influenced rice soup. She's also stayed true to a no-land-animals pledge––one reason of many why Time Out Chicago has named Dharma Garden a Critics' Pick.
Beneath the dining room's spherical hanging lights, curries and stir-fried noodles stack with veggies such as baby bok choy and chinese broccoli, as well as seafood, shrimp, and imitation meats. Already boasting one of the city's largest vegetarian menus, chefs can also alter most of their other dishes to accommodate vegans and vegetarians upon request. After finishing off a deep-fried red snapper, patrons can peruse the Thai-language menu, or request a translation into other languages such as German, Latin, and Binary.
The chili reds and basil greens of Thai cuisine create splashes of color inside the confines of Silom 12, where white-brick walls and a shadow-box-style bar evoke the atmosphere of Bangkok’s work-hard, play-hard Silom district. The Southeast Asian menu includes both Old- and New-World dishes, as well as some from the off-world colonies. Glass, egg, and rice noodles wrap around meat and vegetables, often crowned with aromatic sauces such as panang curry and black-bean gravy.
At Kimberli Sushi, cooks combine crisp vegetables and succulent cuts of fish to fashion dishes from a sprawling Japanese and Thai menu. Crystal-clear plates support noodle dishes and cuts of sashimi that pop with color as diners sit at a modest sushi bar illuminated by hanging lamps and floating balls of roe.