A pair of white stone lions stand sentry at Baisi Thai’s garland-ringed entrance, as if to hold back throngs of diners hungry for saucy noodle bowls, zesty curry dishes, and elegantly plated sushi. Within a spare, earth-toned dining room six floors above the Magnificent Mile, thick curtains peel back to reveal floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the room with sunlight and stunning views of Lake Michigan just blocks away.
Against the serenely understated setting, maki burst with the natural colors of nori, fresh fish, and avocado, often playfully decorated to resemble happy-go-lucky caterpillars and dragons freshly plucked from their perches on nearby skyscrapers. Rich coconut curries or spicy basil blends infuse juicy cutlets of chicken and beef with complex flavors, and rice noodles soak up the essence of sweet peanut, onions, lime, mushrooms, and veggies in stir-fries. Steamy Chinese dishes and cool Japanese appetizers hold down the corners of the menu not occupied by Thai dishes and sushi.
Veteran chefs prepare Stir Crazy’s Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes on sizzling woks right in the dining room. So while diners-to-be ponder the menu of more than 50 traditional and innovative Asian creations, they'll witness knives quartering veggies and flames lapping at the edges of the wok as the sights, smells and sounds of the kitchen come alive around them. Should your taste buds riot at the sight of all this mouth-watering action, satisfy them with an appetizer like the Ahi tuna and avocado poke ($8), a spicy stack of fresh fish and cool veggies. For main courses, choose from an array of entrees like the sweet and sour chicken, a dish featuring tender pieces of crispy chicken tossed with broccoli, red and green peppers, onions, carrots, and pineapple in a sweet and tangy sauce ($12.50). Or manage your intake with the Crazy Feature menu, which offers smaller-in-portion but towering-in-flavor classics like Mongolian beef or sesame chicken, served with a crispy veggie spring roll (all $8.88).
Tasty Thai’s chefs have been keeping the citizens of Vernon Hills stuffed with Thailand’s spicy, basil-speckled food for more than 15 years. During that time, they have served countless orders of homemade egg rolls, color-coded curries, and Thailand’s beloved stir-fry dish, pad thai. To complete meals, the eatery’s entrees can be bookended with a bowl of hot-and-sour tom yum soup and a plate of Thai custard made with a blend of eggs and coconut milk.
Don’t let the name fool you—Peking Tokyo has more on its menu than delicacies from its namesake city. That’s because the cooks draw from other culinary traditions as well, assembling a well-rounded lineup of pan-Asian cuisine. In addition to the Japanese staples of sushi, vegetable tempura, and hibachi-grilled morsels, cooks can prepare Chinese entrees such as fried rice and moo goo gai pan, as well as a selection of Thai dishes that includes pad Thai and curry shrimp.
Asian Bowl's menu is loaded with both iconic and unique dishes from Thailand and Japan. The roasted duck, a boneless slab of poultry slathered in homemade soy sauce and escorted by pineapples and steamed broccoli ($10.95), represents Thailand's cuisine more effectively than Ms. Thailand dressed in a gown of rice noodles. Patrons can taste the Land of the Rising Sun noodle by noodle with the Japanese tempura soba, which arrives at the table submerged in a seasoned fish broth and accompanied by shrimp and veggie tempura ($8.95), or let their uvulas high-five the seafood delight ($10.95), loaded with fresh shrimp, squid, crab, and scallops, then stir-fried to perfection with veggies and garlic sauce.