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Ruby of Siam - Thai in Skokie

Ruby of Siam - Thai in Skokie
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  • Ruby of Siam - Thai in Skokie

    Post #1 - July 29th, 2007, 2:51 pm
    Post #1 - July 29th, 2007, 2:51 pm Post #1 - July 29th, 2007, 2:51 pm
    As I posted here, as of late, Ruby of Siam has become my favorite spot for Thai in the northern suburbs. I know this will probably be met with some groans or raised eyebrows but I feel that -- on a dish/dish basis -- it compares favorably with some of the more well-known Thai spots in the city. This isn't to say that it's better, worse, more or less authentic. I'm not sure I'm qualified to make such determinations. My perspective on Thai is definitely limited compared to that of others who post here -- and I've never been to Thailand.

    Ruby of Siam is owned and operated by Thai people making Thai food in their own distinctive style and much of it really scratches the itch for me. After a handful of visits, I've been very pleased with the fare, across the board. As we all have probably experienced at one time or another, great cooking can often be found in places where it wasn't initially expected. After having some pretty unsatisfying Thai at a few other north-suburban outlets (including one that has since disappeared), my expectations for RoS were low. So, I was very pleased when my first meal at RoS immediately surpassed any other Thai I'd eaten north of Howard Street. But I don't believe this is merely a case of culinary relativism. Ruby of Siam plays the notes that make eating Thai food a satisfying experience for me, delivering bright, intense flavors, a great balance of sweet and spicy, and textural contrasts that please the palate.

    I took pictures at a couple of my recent meals and for reference, wanted to post them here . . .

    Image
    Thai iced coffee
    Rich, smooth, intensely sweet.


    Image
    Strawberry bubble smoothie


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    Green papaya salad with crispy chicken (Yum kai krob)
    I loved this dish. Som tum is one of my favorites and this version, with crispy bits of chicken was delicious and delightfully crunchy.


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    Chive dumplings
    A solid rendition. I've had better, I've had worse. I did really enjoy the accompanying sauce, which is pictured below.


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    Dumpling dipping sauce


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    Cucumber salad, complimentary serving


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    Chicken satay
    I usually skip this dish because it can often be dry. Here, it was nicely seared and still moist inside.


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    Moo-sarong
    Seasoned ground pork wrapped in egg noodles and fried. These little units were delicious. They were piping hot and not greasy in the least. I loved the potent filling and the crunch.


    Image
    Roasted duck curry
    Yes, I loved the serving piece but the dish itself delivered too.


    Image
    Roasted duck curry, closer look
    Moist and flavorful roasted duck (with skin) in an intense red curry with pineapple, grapes and vegetables. The red curry was so delicious and compelling, I couldn't stop eating it, even after I was full.

    Image
    Deep-fried whole red snapper (Pla Dang Rad Prik)
    This dish is offered with curry sauce or 3-flavor sauce. This is the 3-flavor rendition which, after trying both, I prefer. The fish here was tender and moist, the skin deliciously crispy. The sauce was sweet and spicy.


    Image
    Pan-fried noodles with chicken (Rard Nar)
    I didn't love this dish. The noodles were very nice but they were topped with a relatively bland sauce and the chicken was just as dry and lifeless as it looks in the picture.


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    Thai custard
    I thought the flavor here was excellent but the texture was just too grainy, relative to other renditions I've had.


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    Sweet rice with mango
    We really enjoyed this dessert. The syrup on sweet rice was delicious and the perfectly ripe mango was aromatic, sweet and tender.

    Next Meal:

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    Fish cakes (tod mun)
    A great rendition, relative to my other experiences with it. These cakes were crispy on the outisde, tender on the inside and had a compelling flavor.


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    Green papaya salad with crispy chicken (again)


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    Thai barbecue pork on skewers (Moo-ping)
    Generally speaking, I enjoy this dish a lot more than satay. This instance certainly reinforced that preference. The pork was hot, well-seasoned and juicy.


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    Cucumber salad with sriracha
    Complimentary cucumber salad, served with the Moo-ping. This rendition was topped with what I believe was sriracha.


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    Pot stickers
    Not Thai, but well-prepared -- to order. We ordered these as an accomodation for one of the folks in our dining party. Ironically, they were better than they usually are at most Chinese restaurants.


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    Tom Ka Kai
    A great rendition that was intense, complex and well-balanced. What I didn't like about it was the dry chicken meat, which seems to be an obligatory part of this dish, regardless of where I order it.


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    Sauteed roasted duck (and skin) with basil leaves (Pad Kraproa Ped)
    Tasty, intense, delicious. I loved how the aromatic basil accented the moist, roasted duck. A great sauce, too. Very compelling.


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    Pad Thai with chicken
    My wife's favorite, so we order it fairly often. This rendition is one of our favorites. Unlike with a couple dishes described above, the chicken was moist. The dish was sweet, crunchy, chewy and deeply flavorful.

    The fact that I've been digging Ruby of Siam doesn't necessarily mean that anyone else here will. I can only assess a place on what it is, not what it isn't. The food I've eaten at RoS has been, for the most part, very satisfying. I find the spice level to be just about right but that's largely because it's tweaked to request. The place is not perfect -- as my post indicates -- but there's a lot to enjoy at RoS and in my experience, there's decidedly more good than bad. I think they do a great job and after eating there several times recently, I find myself thinking about it often. At this point, I'm bullish on RoS, whereas with many places, after a few trips, I'm already in retreat. I look forward to returing to RoS and trying a bunch of other promising dishes that I haven't yet had the chance to try.

    =R=

    Ruby of Siam
    9420 Skokie Boulevard (Skokie Fashion Square, just south of Golf Rd.)
    Skokie, IL 60076
    847 675-7008
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #2 - July 29th, 2007, 3:38 pm
    Post #2 - July 29th, 2007, 3:38 pm Post #2 - July 29th, 2007, 3:38 pm
    It's worth noting that Ruby of Siam has two locations. The other one is:

    Ruby of Siam
    1125 Emerson (at Ridge, just east of Green Bay Road and the Metra tracks)
    Evanston 60201
    847-492-1008

    As I noted in that other topic, we've found RoS to be sometimes good, but not consistently so. We've been to both of their locations numerous times and haven't noticed a significant difference between the two; both vary from so-so to fairly good. Nowadays we usually go to Thai Sookdee in Evanston, a few blocks south on Church Street, which we have found to be better in both quality and consistency. We recently tried the newly-opened Thai Pavilion 2 in Skokie (also on Church Street), and were impressed there as well. Try them all!
    Last edited by nsxtasy on July 29th, 2007, 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #3 - July 29th, 2007, 4:25 pm
    Post #3 - July 29th, 2007, 4:25 pm Post #3 - July 29th, 2007, 4:25 pm
    I have been a fan of the Evanston Ruby of Siam since my days in grad school at NU. Their lunch buffet is a quick and affordable option in the area (with a parking lot!) But as with most buffets, I suggest trying to go earlier in the lunch hour, because that's when the items are the freshest.
    I also order takeout from them very regularly, as they are on my way home from work. I've always enjoyed their eggrolls and larb salad. Their service is very friendly as well. Ronnie, I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation of Ruby of Siam.

    Sharona
  • Post #4 - July 29th, 2007, 7:46 pm
    Post #4 - July 29th, 2007, 7:46 pm Post #4 - July 29th, 2007, 7:46 pm
    I haven't been to RoS for a couple years (I don't work near there anymore), but their lunch buffet was reasonably priced and a nice variety, with a decent selection of appetizers, soups and main dishes (although there was seldom a curry). Glad to hear it's still good.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #5 - July 29th, 2007, 7:50 pm
    Post #5 - July 29th, 2007, 7:50 pm Post #5 - July 29th, 2007, 7:50 pm
    Gorgeous pictures, Ronnie. Really nice.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #6 - July 29th, 2007, 8:12 pm
    Post #6 - July 29th, 2007, 8:12 pm Post #6 - July 29th, 2007, 8:12 pm
    Mike G wrote:Gorgeous pictures, Ronnie. Really nice.

    Thanks, Mike. A wise man once posted " . . . the secrets of good food photography (at least the casual snapshot kind) are 1) go eat lunch and 2) sit near a window." :wink:

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #7 - July 29th, 2007, 8:27 pm
    Post #7 - July 29th, 2007, 8:27 pm Post #7 - July 29th, 2007, 8:27 pm
    I've been going to Ruby of Siam on and off for about twelve years now. One thing I've always appreciated about them is that it doesn't take too much convincing to get a dish made Thai spicy. My personal favorite hot-spicy dish there is pad ma moung him ma pan or #91--cashew nuts, dried hot peppers, onions, and your choice of meat. I always get it with the beef. As hot as the dish is, the other flavors really pop when they turn up the heat. They also have an unwieldy appetizer called one-bite chicken, which is essentially chicken larb served on lettuce for rolling up. It's not the most well-executed chicken larb I've had, but they do not hold back on the Scovilles, if that's your thing.
  • Post #8 - July 30th, 2007, 11:17 am
    Post #8 - July 30th, 2007, 11:17 am Post #8 - July 30th, 2007, 11:17 am
    JoelF wrote:I haven't been to RoS for a couple years (I don't work near there anymore), but their lunch buffet was reasonably priced and a nice variety, with a decent selection of appetizers, soups and main dishes (although there was seldom a curry). Glad to hear it's still good.


    I've been eating at Ruby at least a couple times a month for the past seven years, and there's almost always a curry on the lunch buffet these days.

    Thanks for the photos. Very nice. I think they have the best Tom Yum Soup in the area. Haven't found any any better.
  • Post #9 - July 30th, 2007, 1:32 pm
    Post #9 - July 30th, 2007, 1:32 pm Post #9 - July 30th, 2007, 1:32 pm
    Thanks for these lovely pictures- RoS is my favorite Thai place within reasonable driving distance (New Pot in Oak Park is my other favorite, but it's a bit of a drive.) I love RoS, but I tend to stick to my favorites (Pad Se Eiw- yum!)....now that I see your pictures, you've introduced me to some new stuff to try, particularly the Moo-Sarong, duck curry, sweet rice with mango, and Pad Kraproa Ped!

    ETA: I agree, their Tom Kha is excellent; my only gripe- no mushrooms! :cry:
  • Post #10 - July 30th, 2007, 2:01 pm
    Post #10 - July 30th, 2007, 2:01 pm Post #10 - July 30th, 2007, 2:01 pm
    abe_froeman wrote:ETA: I agree, their Tom Kha is excellent; my only gripe- no mushrooms! :cry:

    The serving I had did include mushrooms. In fact, you can see one in the pic at the bottom, center of the bowl. It kind of looks like an olive. :D

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #11 - July 30th, 2007, 6:24 pm
    Post #11 - July 30th, 2007, 6:24 pm Post #11 - July 30th, 2007, 6:24 pm
    Ron has also posted about my personal favorite Thai restaurant, Siam's House in Niles, but Ruby of Siam has very good food and is much nicer in terms of decor and service. It is also convenient to Old Orchard Mall and the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Post #12 - July 31st, 2007, 10:14 am
    Post #12 - July 31st, 2007, 10:14 am Post #12 - July 31st, 2007, 10:14 am
    I think you're right, ronnie- I think I'm mixing it up with my other stand-by Thai place, Pad Thai in Des Plaines. They're not as flavorful as RoS, but they're closer and they have duck curry with plantain.....((Homer Simpson drool))
  • Post #13 - July 31st, 2007, 6:08 pm
    Post #13 - July 31st, 2007, 6:08 pm Post #13 - July 31st, 2007, 6:08 pm
    I live in Skokie and I discovered RoS 8 years ago in Evanston. I loved the authenticity, the food, the staff, the owner (Sunni) and...well just about everything about it. I was overjoyed when they opened in Skokie about 4 min from my house. I eat there or take out 7 - 10 times per month and I eat the lunch buffet (which totally rocks) 3 or 4 times per month.

    I don't know of another Thai restaurant this affordable and this good...well, maybe Thai Pastry on Broadway and Argyle, in the whole Chicagoland area. I've been eating Thai food in Chicago since 1974 and I've seen places come and go...cause the food, service or atmosphere sucked. No matter who comes there with me, they are blown away by the atmosphere, friendly staff and delicious food. For me, this is the only place I enjoy...period.
    TFox...I eat to live and I live to eat
  • Post #14 - August 17th, 2007, 1:39 pm
    Post #14 - August 17th, 2007, 1:39 pm Post #14 - August 17th, 2007, 1:39 pm
    I had another delicious meal at Ruby of Siam recently and I wanted to share some details and some images . . .

    Image
    Som Tum (green papaya salad)
    Again, this is one of my favorite dishes and favorite renditions. I think I could eat this salad everyday.


    Image
    Khanom Jeeb (steamed shrimp dumplings)
    Not at all like other renditons I've had (which were much more elaborately presented) but these tender units were tasty in their own right.


    Image
    Moo-Sarong (seasoned ground pork wrapped in egg noodles and fried)
    I'm pretty much over this dish, which is tasty but fairly muted. But my son loves it and it photographs nicely.


    Image
    Larb Chicken
    This was my first larb experience at RoS and I thought it was great. It was well-balanced (sweet and acidic) and the chicken was very moist.


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    Beef Panang
    Here, the flavors were just terrific but the dish would have been better if the beef were just a tad less cooked. It wasn't completely decimated but slightly overdone. In general, I think the curries at RoS are delicious and very well-prepared.


    Image
    Bami Pad See Iew with Pork
    I really enjoyed this dish -- especially because the noodles were crispy, which I'd never experienced before. The overall textural contrasts in the dish were very satisfying. The mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, baby corn were great together. This was a very nice rendition.


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    Pad Kra Prao with Pork (Basil pork)
    I do love this dish and I've ordered it all over town. I'll say that RoS's rendition is very nice and somewhere in the middle of the scale, for me.


    Image
    Purple Yam Ice Cream (via Village Creamery)
    It was great to learn that a selection of Village Creamery's ice creams are now available at RoS. On this night, only one of our first 3 flavor choices was available, so we improvised a bit. The above portion of Purple Yam ice cream was our favorite of the evening.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #15 - August 18th, 2007, 6:46 am
    Post #15 - August 18th, 2007, 6:46 am Post #15 - August 18th, 2007, 6:46 am
    I to am a big fan of Ruby of Siam. My wife isn't quite as adventurous as myself and she orders Pad Thai at all the Thia restaurants we go to. According to her their rendition is the best she has ever had, although she did get a bit "wild" at Lotus of Siam and therefore she didn't get a chance to try their Pad Thai.

    For me, all of their dishes are terrific but what has really stood out for me lately is their Nam Sod. I lover their version especially when I ask for it hot. Their soups are all terrific, especially the Tom Yum. I am happy making a meal of their Lime Chicken appetizer, Tom Yum and an order of extra hot Nam Sod.

    BTW - If the Thai Pavilion in Skokie is related to the Thai Pavilion in Dekalb you should check it out. My wife and I have been going there for a few years and what I really love about them is their curries, especially the Massamun curry, sweet and hot and utterly delicious.
  • Post #16 - August 18th, 2007, 10:45 am
    Post #16 - August 18th, 2007, 10:45 am Post #16 - August 18th, 2007, 10:45 am
    mousec wrote:BTW - If the Thai Pavilion in Skokie is related to the Thai Pavilion in Dekalb you should check it out. My wife and I have been going there for a few years and what I really love about them is their curries, especially the Massamun curry, sweet and hot and utterly delicious.

    It is indeed! As I noted in the report on my dinner at Thai Pavilion 2 in Skokie (which I liked a lot):

    nsxtasy wrote:If the name sounds familiar to visitors to DeKalb, it's the same family; the woman who owns Thai Pavilion in DeKalb is the sister of the man who owns Thai Pavilion 2 in Skokie. He is the (current or former, I'm not sure) owner of Bangkok Star on Fullerton. They have a fourth-generation Thai chef.
  • Post #17 - May 8th, 2008, 8:09 pm
    Post #17 - May 8th, 2008, 8:09 pm Post #17 - May 8th, 2008, 8:09 pm
    LTH,

    Recently had a pleasant lunch at Ruby of Siam (Skokie), nothing particularly earth shattering, which may be due to the kitchen occupied with the lunch buffett crowds, but solid enough I'm planing a return dinner visit when the kitchen is not swamped turning out mass quantities Pad Thai.

    Of particular note was an appetizer of Fried Tofu w/pork. Crisp cubes of tofu, with a light creamy interior, paired nicely with ground pork, I liked the slightly sweet soy edge, though the same basic saucing structure became a bit cloying in Basil Chicken. Basil chicken was, as requested, hot, but needed a hit of lime/herb to brighten flavor.

    Fried Tofu w/ground pork
    Image

    The staff at Ruby of Siam had no qualms about amping up the spice level, papaya salad carried heat, as did Tom Ka Kai and Duck in Red Curry. Tom Ka Kai, as Ronnie_S points out up thread, contained a quantity of slightly dry sliced chicken breast, which I am sure many, though not me, enjoy, though our version was without the mushrooms pictured in Ronnie_S post.

    Service was accommodating, even though we were one of the few ordering off the menu, pricing reasonable with the added bonus of Village Creamery ice cream on hand.

    North suburb wise I give the edge to Siam's House, which is one of my overall favorite Thai restaurants, but am looking forward to a non lunch rush return Ruby of Siam visit.

    Ruby of Siam's Village Creamery freezer
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Siam's House
    7742 N Milwaukee Ave
    Niles, IL 60714
    847-967-2390
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #18 - June 3rd, 2019, 10:54 am
    Post #18 - June 3rd, 2019, 10:54 am Post #18 - June 3rd, 2019, 10:54 am
    Love Ruby of Siam in Skokie. Tried Ruby of Siam in Highland Park last night. Never again. Food was good (at least the dishes that were served hot), but the service was awful. Restaurant was pretty much empty except for a few tables, but there was a brisk carry out business going on.

    Ordered two apps and drinks, one came out first and then the other a few minutes later after the first app was consumed. Drinks arrived after the Apps were eaten.

    Then we ordered 4 main dishes. Eventually one came out. That person was able to completely finish before we saw another dish, easily 15 minutes later. Finally got another dish, it was cold. Sent it back. Had to remind waitress about other dishes we ordered that were clearly never made. Eventually it came back hot along with 2 other dishes, one was hot and the other lukewarm. Didn't send it back because why bother at this point. The one dish that was hot was prepared wrong, but didn't send it back because why bother again.

    Bill was $99 and I left a $10 tip which I almost immediately regretted. Should've left a $5 tip with a note to "try/do better".

    Apparently this happened to the other people in my party a couple years ago and they ended up leaving without getting half their order.

    From now on I'll stick to the Skokie location where I've never had any issues over many years of going there.

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