Like a tongue on a flagpole in February, fusion cuisine results from curiosity and a shortage of popsicles. Rein in restless taste buds with today's Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of Asian-fusion fare and drinks at Thalia Spice in River West. An upscale bistro and bar, Thalia Spice offers eaters an all-encompassing menu that merges a whole continent of flavor into a multifarious selection of curries, noodle dishes, seafood, sushi, and other Asian tastes. Put your chopstick studies to delicious use with an order of panang curry, featuring bell peppers and basil simmered in coconut milk and a thick, mild peanut curry ($10), or opt for the River Boat noodles, which transport tongues down a savory canal of steak, bean sprouts, and green onions ($9). Thalia's signature rolls—such as the Sweet Fuji ($13), stuffed with sweet-potato tempura, scallions, masago, cream cheese, tempura crumb, wasabi mayo, and unagi sauce—take scrumptious cylinders in their most inventive direction since revised building codes outlawed Oreo architecture.
Thalia Spice is a pan-Asian bistro that invites diners on a world tour of flavors served in a modern lounge. Co-owner Anna Makmok's mother lends her Thai and Laotian expertise in the kitchen, and co-owner Vincent Tan culls from his Malaysian and Singaporean roots for many of the menu's exotic dishes.
Where's That Recipe From?
- Fried tofu with a sweet peanut sauce for dipping—Singapore
- Grilled beef tossed with red onions, cilantro, scallions, mint, and roasted rice—Laos
- Seafood, tofu, bean sprouts, boiled egg, scallions, and noodles in a curry laksa soup—Malaysia
- Chicken simmered in soy sauce and white vinegar flavored with bay leaves—Philippines
- Potatoes and onions cooked in a coconut-milk-based curry with roasted peanuts and a choice of meat—Thailand
- Chicken and vegetable gyoza with a sweet soy dipping sauce—Japan
- Indian chicken makhani with an Indian-style curry sauce—Unknown
From the Press
- Chicago Reader: "Even Thalia's fusion creations—sake baby ribs, spicy salmon maki—show a commitment to fresh ingredients and honest flavors, so even if you're skeptical of such offerings, as I am, get over yourself and enjoy."
- Featured on Check, Please! in 2011
- Gayot: "Rustic wood and swirls of ironwork make the place feel organic and comfortable; fuzzy roll pillows lining a banquette exude hip flair."