Recently drove by Chai Thung to only notice the previous obfucatious bannner, which simply said “E-SARN [sic] THAI FOOD”, now reads “Banh Thung E-SARN FOOD”. A quick: “what’s happened?” resulted in Nee advising she has since become part owner. Congratulations is followed by a quick clasping of my hands. And since she confirmed the menu is the same, below is my review from Late May: way before Mr. J Gold’s brief review, a coupla weeks after Erik M mentioned the resto in his epic Q2 Chowhound.com post. By then, we’ve dined at Chai Thung nearly a half a dozen times. Enjoy the pictorial from late June.
Below is the original review, now not found except on this blog:
Me: “Woah, look at that chic walking by”
Random diner: “There’s got to be a wedding next door”
Me: “No way, they’re going to a wedding dressed like that”
“Whoah there goes another going in”
Text to Thai friend: “There’s a hostess bar/message parlor next door”. “Really hot Thai chics””
The only Korean in the restaurant: “Wait, they’re all Korean”
* mass confusion follows *
Glorious view of a dozen fripply & lanky Korean girls at any time. Free Karaoke with teen-age guest patron singers. Dubious access 1 block south of Santa Monica on Vermont. Crazy Valet guy. There are is the prelude to a … wait for it…
brilliant Issan style Thai restaurant!
Serious note: no one orders from the laminated menu. If you order pad thai here and write about it, I will send you awesome compliments and update this review to continuously mock you til eternity. Don’t believe me? Reference here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/spoon-thai-restaurant-chicago#hrid:Ag2nIFEx_0TncahjJznCrw
Current written menu translation, courtesy of Yelper Oakley B:
http://oakmonster.yelp.com/ (with edits by yours truly)
Naem Kow Todd : Fermented pork and crispy rice salad
See Krong Moo Naem : deep fried fermented pork ribs.
Pla Pao Jim Jaew : Grilled fish with Jaew (roasted pepper dipping sauce)
Kaeng Om Gob (Nok) : Frog (or quail) thin curry/soup with dill / kaffir, no coconut
Yum Makua Yao : Issan-style Eggplant salad.
Moo Pa Pad Ped : Stir fry spicy wild boar
Kaeng Pa – Gai Sub Nok : “Jungle” curry/soup- Ground chicken & quail?
Pad Ped Pla Lai (Nok) : Stir fry spicy eel (or quail)
Som Tum Bpoo Dong : Papaya salad with pickled crab (and khanom jiin)
Uber Thai Issan-menu: (uhhh.. don’t ask me what’s in there, but I know crispy grasshoppers are involved!)
So far I’ve only tasted one quarter of dishes: neua diaw dad (Thai Beef Jerky with house made “jeaw” [roasted pepper dipper sauce)], 2 varieties of Issan style papaya salad, the fermented pork ribs, (soft) catfish with sweetened house made red curry, the sai krawt Issan (which was just excellent, totally house stuffed, fried perfectly, moist and with plethora of accoutrements), soup nor mai (not on the menus, Issan style bamboo salad topped with ground roasted rice; Renu Thai’s version is a bit nicer, but this was still a fine undertaking), the kaeng om with chopped quail (fantastic, covered with dill & kaffir leaves, just spicy enough served “mild”), and pad phet (spicy stir fry) frog legs (ouchy says my bunghole) with fresh thai peppercorn stalk and thai eggplant, etc.
This is an epic UYE in the making. Sometime in July an invasion of this “E-Sarn” joint will be planned. The remaining menu must be wrecked & conquered!!!