So, this evening I was walking home and passed by an old favorite of mine, Panang at Clark and Chicago. Not as wide a range as many other Thai places, but one of the best options in the River North area for inexpensive and fresh Thai.
I looked over their menu and noticed that they have added a few dishes, most notably, they finally have Som Tom on the menu.
So I ordered it and a Thom Kha Chicken soup to go. I asked for the Som Tom to be spicy.
Getting home, I first had the Thom Kha. It was very good, quite flavorful, chicken fully cooked, with a very rich and tasty broth with plenty of pepper flakes, pieces of lemongrass etc.
Then for the Som Tom. First really good sign - plenty of peppers of varying sizes and colors. Second, some very plump steamed shrimp.
The Som Tom had peanuts, two large steamed shrimp, tomatos, green beans, papaya and plenty of peppers and fish sauce. To my taste this was possibly the best Som Tom I've had in Chicago. It was very, very fresh tasting, quite spicy and hot, and all the flavors were distinctive, very fresh and blended together quite well.
Other Som Tom's I have had around town have been different - but overall this was one of the freshest, most refreshing and overall tastiest.
And it was priced quite well - $5.00.
So, that's my recommendation next time you are in River North and have a Som Tom jones.
Plus, if you ask for it spicy, they can deliver. Plenty of heat.