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Tea Leaf Garden [WAS: Family House - Burmese]

Tea Leaf Garden [WAS: Family House - Burmese]
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  • Post #31 - January 11th, 2018, 12:41 pm
    Post #31 - January 11th, 2018, 12:41 pm Post #31 - January 11th, 2018, 12:41 pm
    Shortly after trying The Family House, and hearing fellow LTH'ers consistently enjoy it as much as I do, I expected a review from Mike Sula in the Reader because of his attraction to small scale authenticity.

    Review posted last night: https://m.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-family-house-myanmar-burmese-indonesian-malaysian-cuisine/Content?oid=38574893
    He credits LTH for bringing The Family House its well deserved positive buzz.
  • Post #32 - January 20th, 2018, 5:05 pm
    Post #32 - January 20th, 2018, 5:05 pm Post #32 - January 20th, 2018, 5:05 pm
    It was extremely busy last Sunday, after the Sula write-up, and staff clearly struggled to keep up with the increased demand. All tables were filled. Unfortunately, several of our dishes, and even our cups of tea, were delivered to other tables, seated after us, that had ordererd the same items. The result was a wait stretching an hour before we received a single cup of tea or a salad.

    I am sympathetic to the problems. Staff was clearly worked beyond the breaking point; at one point, a gentleman busing/cleaning spilled a bottle of cleaning solution and mopped it hastily, resulting in several near-falling incidents as staff went back and forth.

    This place is happily growing, but there may be some pain along the way.

    A single disappointing note concerns a dish that had run out, the Malay oxtail soup. Innocuous enough, but the same worker who had told us it was out soon told another table that they had everything on the menu, when a gentleman asked what was available on the menu. It seemed as though it were a case of giving a fast answer rather than going into details that took more effort and time than judged worthwhile.

    It will be interesting to see how The Family House manages its rising popularity.
  • Post #33 - January 20th, 2018, 5:40 pm
    Post #33 - January 20th, 2018, 5:40 pm Post #33 - January 20th, 2018, 5:40 pm
    I’ve also been there post-Sula and they were indeed slammed, which definitely slows everything down, as I get the feeling that there are not too many people cooking. On the plus side, as posted above, they have a new menu, everything on which seems to actually be offered in the restaurant (at least, most of the time).

    Finally tried the ohn no khao swe. Never had the Burmese version of this, so it’s entirely possible that this was authentic, properly made, etc. But gotta say, I much prefer the northern Thai rendition — this was much thinner, with almost no coconut flavor, fewer mix-ins, and clearly reheated chicken. Still not bad, but can’t touch the mohinga.

    Also, the ginger salad is good but not very gingery. Sticking to tea leaf.

    Still dirt cheap!
  • Post #34 - January 24th, 2018, 2:55 pm
    Post #34 - January 24th, 2018, 2:55 pm Post #34 - January 24th, 2018, 2:55 pm
    For a Mon-Thurs night group dinner, what is max I should have? (from what I've read I'm assuming have a pre-planned meal will help)
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #35 - January 24th, 2018, 3:23 pm
    Post #35 - January 24th, 2018, 3:23 pm Post #35 - January 24th, 2018, 3:23 pm
    Sweet Willie wrote:For a Mon-Thurs night group dinner, what is max I should have? (from what I've read I'm assuming have a pre-planned meal will help)


    The place isn't very big, and the kitchen is easily overwhelmed. I'd say no more than 6. Definitely give them a heads up!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #36 - February 5th, 2018, 1:24 pm
    Post #36 - February 5th, 2018, 1:24 pm Post #36 - February 5th, 2018, 1:24 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Tea Leaf deep, murky, delicious and quite different than the more composed version found at Burma Superstar in SF.
    Agreed, though it has been awhile, I recall enjoying Burma Superstar’s version more.
    peteouc wrote:Breakfast: Mohinga (traditional Burmese breakfast soup) and Tea
    The Mohinga was bar-none the freshest I have ever had. Made me realize that most mohinga in Burma and Thailand use canned mackerel- which adds an unneeded fishiness to the dish.
    I have the feeling I would have liked canned mackerel version as the mohinga last night was lacking the deep, murky flavors others have described. In looking at the photos that others have taken, it seems the portion I got didn’t have near the herbs that are pictured. The chicken in the Oh No Khao Swe was likely microwaved as it was extremely tough/chewy. Ginger salad was quite good.
    Rene G wrote:Nasi lemak was absolutely great. A full plate is $4, which might make that the best way to spend $4 in Chicago (an extra $1.50 adds a chicken leg). I practically got lost in that little dollop of sauce and the coconut rice was good. Cucumber, peanuts, and tiny dried fish rounded out a very satisfying little plate.
    Amen! The standout last night for me was the Nasi Lemak w/chicken leg. Loved every bite and the sambal (not enough of it as Jefe mentions) was terrific.
    I'm going again at month’s end and it will be interesting if round two has the same results.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #37 - February 5th, 2018, 8:01 pm
    Post #37 - February 5th, 2018, 8:01 pm Post #37 - February 5th, 2018, 8:01 pm
    Sweet Willie wrote:
    Amen! The standout last night for me was the Nasi Lemak w/chicken leg. Loved every bite and the sambal (not enough of it as Jefe mentions) was terrific.
    I'm going again at month’s end and it will be interesting if round two has the same results.


    Both times I've been there (so far), I've asked for at least one refill on the sambal. :-)
  • Post #38 - February 28th, 2018, 11:19 am
    Post #38 - February 28th, 2018, 11:19 am Post #38 - February 28th, 2018, 11:19 am
    swingbossa wrote:Both times I've been there (so far), I've asked for at least one refill on the sambal. :-)
    I did last night, delicious !

    Had dinner with 5 others at Family House last night.

    The tea leaf salad was on point !! So much fresher & vibrant than the prior time I tried it.

    Nasi Lemak w/chicken shined again, terrific.

    Tried two other dishes and sorry I didn't copy down the exact names.

    One was billed as a sour & sweet Curry w/beef. Beef was odd, almost as if it had been cooked, then dried a bit, then sliced into a thin 1"x1" square and added to the other veggies. I didn't notice any curry flavor, this was more like sweet/sour one would find at a Cantonese restaurant. It was ok but the cloying sweetness & odd beef was not great.

    The other dish was rojak, a mixture of pineapple, cucumber, jicama, with some herb(s), very refreshing I'd order again!

    Place was dead empty except for our table of 6 (we were there from 6:30-8pm). I did notice a couple of take out orders but not much else. Hoping this place survives.
    Last edited by Sweet Willie on March 1st, 2018, 7:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #39 - March 1st, 2018, 7:43 am
    Post #39 - March 1st, 2018, 7:43 am Post #39 - March 1st, 2018, 7:43 am
    Sweet Willie wrote:The other dish was burak? A mixture of pineapple, cucumber, jicama, with some herb(s), very refreshing I'd order again!


    Sounds like rojak.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #40 - March 1st, 2018, 7:46 am
    Post #40 - March 1st, 2018, 7:46 am Post #40 - March 1st, 2018, 7:46 am
    Gypsy Boy wrote:Sounds like rojak.
    That it was, thanks for the prompt, I edited original post.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #41 - March 1st, 2018, 9:54 am
    Post #41 - March 1st, 2018, 9:54 am Post #41 - March 1st, 2018, 9:54 am
    Sweet Willie wrote:
    Gypsy Boy wrote:Sounds like rojak.
    That it was, thanks for the prompt, I edited original post.

    Image
    =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 #42 - June 20th, 2018, 5:27 pm
    Post #42 - June 20th, 2018, 5:27 pm Post #42 - June 20th, 2018, 5:27 pm
    Bump. Still firing on all cylinders. Prices are up slightly, but still ridiculously low. Of the new(ish) menu items, the roti canai is delightful.
  • Post #43 - October 6th, 2018, 7:01 pm
    Post #43 - October 6th, 2018, 7:01 pm Post #43 - October 6th, 2018, 7:01 pm
    Sadly, went for a late breakfast this morning and found it closed with a handwritten sign on the door saying that new management was coming soon. It's unclear if it's going to still be The Family House or a new restaurant. Either way, it's sad. The people who ran the restaurant were so nice.
  • Post #44 - November 21st, 2018, 11:32 am
    Post #44 - November 21st, 2018, 11:32 am Post #44 - November 21st, 2018, 11:32 am
    Confirmed, closed for a while. Back here right now, though :)

    Reopened within the last few weeks as "Tea Leaf Garden". Basically(?): the two Rohingya owners moved to Milwaukee. The Malay owner's Burmese mom bought the place, with another Burmese woman. The Malay son will hang around for a little bit, to help with business stuff. Mom is Shan, so brings more recipes to the table. And based on first bites, these women really really know how to cook!

    Hours (currently) are 9-10. Much bigger menu. Once I get 2-3 visits in (i.e.: in 2-3 days, depending on whether or not they close for TGiving...), I'll get a new thread going for the new joint, and post a link here (unless there is some good LTH etiquette/logic to continue this thread)
  • Post #45 - November 21st, 2018, 11:34 am
    Post #45 - November 21st, 2018, 11:34 am Post #45 - November 21st, 2018, 11:34 am
    peteouc wrote: Once I get 2-3 visits in (i.e.: in 2-3 days, depending on whether or not they close for TGiving...), I'll get a new thread going for the new joint, and post a link here (unless there is some good LTH etiquette/logic to continue this thread)

    That's perfect and thank you, for the intel.

    =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 #46 - November 21st, 2018, 11:36 am
    Post #46 - November 21st, 2018, 11:36 am Post #46 - November 21st, 2018, 11:36 am
    Does anybody know if they are going to be open on Thanksgiving? Thanks, Nancy
  • Post #47 - November 21st, 2018, 11:38 am
    Post #47 - November 21st, 2018, 11:38 am Post #47 - November 21st, 2018, 11:38 am
    Confirmed, open tomorrow.

    Oh- and Cash only, for now.
  • Post #48 - November 21st, 2018, 11:45 am
    Post #48 - November 21st, 2018, 11:45 am Post #48 - November 21st, 2018, 11:45 am
    Great news!! Thanks for the details. Now if only In-On Thai would reopen all would be well in my food world...
  • Post #49 - December 8th, 2018, 1:27 am
    Post #49 - December 8th, 2018, 1:27 am Post #49 - December 8th, 2018, 1:27 am
    Mods, could you please change the thread title to “Tea Leaf Garden”? (EDIT: Oh, duh, we’re starting a new thread?)

    Can confirm that the food is still great, super cheap, and amply portioned. I think the mohinga became somewhat less fishy a while back, but it’s still delicious. Roti are wonderful and there are several new salads, all of which were hits. Complimentary tea provided.

    Still cash only.
  • Post #50 - December 18th, 2018, 6:21 pm
    Post #50 - December 18th, 2018, 6:21 pm Post #50 - December 18th, 2018, 6:21 pm
    First visit since the reboot for carry-out last night. As stated, value is unmatched, and that's not meant to diminish the quality independent of price. Ordered:
    - Tea leaf salad, $4.5: basically the exact same as FH version, but it didn't have the thai hot chili (or similar) that was used before, so it didn't have the heat. Great flavor and texture nevertheless.
    - Tofu salad, $5.0: unique, not what one would expect. The menu (link to menu photos below) describes it as featuring chickpea based tofu, but what it ended up being was this rich egg salad type dish. I used some of the pepper mix provided and some soy to liven it up, but the creamy texture is the appeal here.
    - Ono kaw swe, $4.5: Nice curry flavor, pepper mix helped add heat. The chicken is cooked as part of the curry, so there is no protein option on this.

    Phone # is 773-856-0433. I was able to access the menu via the new Yelp page. Yelp's search function is despicable when it comes to this place right now. You can search by its exact name, "malaysian" or "burmese" food w/ the specific zip, and it doesn't provide TLG's page in the results. I'll be back before long for roti canai, mohinga, mee goreng and the rest.
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/tea-leaf-garden-chicago
  • Post #51 - December 19th, 2018, 9:54 am
    Post #51 - December 19th, 2018, 9:54 am Post #51 - December 19th, 2018, 9:54 am
    We went recently after hearing about the name change after enjoying Family House once before (it's over an hour by transit for us) The salads, like every time I have had Burmese food, were the highlights. We had the tea leaf, ginger and samosa salad after learning that the green tomato salad was not available. The latter news saddened me as I hear this a canon dish in Myanmar. Each was very distinct, texturally dynamic and extremely delicious, though I might give the nod to the ginger as my favorite.

    The mohinga was not nearly as good as when I first had it at Family House. Just kind of muddy flavor, no fish or funk and overcooked noodles (IMO). The Ono kaw swe was better, the highlight being the crunchy chickpea fritter garnish. Still while the salads are dynamite I can't really find an entree here that is truly superb to round out the meal.
  • Post #52 - December 19th, 2018, 1:21 pm
    Post #52 - December 19th, 2018, 1:21 pm Post #52 - December 19th, 2018, 1:21 pm
    Just to agree with some things above:

    - Our salads also lacked any Thai chilis. I wonder if one should now request dishes to be made spicy. The mohinga did have a healthy amount of red chili powder, though.

    - No green tomato salad on our visit, either. This menu item could be aspirational rather than actual.

    - Even under the old name, it was always the appetizers/salads (+ mohinga) that were the stars of the show, for me. On the other hand, the nasi goreng with omelet or the mee goreng (my preference is with fish balls) are very homey and satisfying, if also quite filling.
  • Post #53 - January 1st, 2019, 2:38 pm
    Post #53 - January 1st, 2019, 2:38 pm Post #53 - January 1st, 2019, 2:38 pm
    As a matter of curiosity I went to check out Tea Leaf Garden- to see if it was
    similar to the previous owners (Cooks) and I have to say- I'm not impressed.

    As an example the Tea Leaf Salad "was" a standout dish for me, before.
    A great balance of sour-funky-crunchy-savory-and-
    "WOW" I'd not experienced before was this visit- needing
    more "sour" (asked for extra lime wedges- didn't correct the missing "sour")
    and needed more "heat" as well.
    ImageBurmese Tea Leaf Salad by R. Kramer, on Flickr

    I also ordered a "Samosa Salad"- (a dish I've invented, as a riff on a
    Summer-Potato Salad- but mine's more of an Inside-Out-version-of-a-Samosa....) and felt that all of the flavors and textures were melted together- and the crispy Samosa bits were -not-crispy and the other ingredients were indistinguishable from one another.
    A dish I'd not recommend.

    I did notice many, many more men, nursing a Chai (which- also- tasted much different than before under old owners) and/or just sitting
    kinda taking-up tables, in what appeared to be
    maybe, a study session with a local "imam" or, maybe if I spoke Rahkine,
    I'd a grasped the nature of the diatribe, but
    my point being that rather than being half filled with "Customers"-
    it appeared that they've morphed into a Community Center. :?

    As a non-Muslim, I find it curious- that "Restaurants" are used in a different fashion than other Religions.
    Yes- I've seen a Post-Church crowd blossom- at say....Wishbone,
    or at Kurowski Sausage and Smoked Meat Emporium on Milwaukee Ave., but the concentration is limited,
    versus at
    Flaming Wok 'n' Grill on N. Halsted.
    Equally- it appears as an "infidel"-
    that small Restaurants- are more commonly used for those of one faith- to "be".
    Just an observation. :|

    On the take-away counter- there appeared to be many more items for sale than before.
    Of those- we tried The Sticky Rice w/Mango inna Banana Leaf-
    ImageBurmese Sweets @ Tea Leaf Garden on Devon Avenue-Chicago by R. Kramer, on Flickr
    which was good- but- not as unctuous, or "sticky" as say, the version served at "Sticky Rice's"- Thai version on N. Western Ave.
    ImageBurmese Sweets @ Tea Leaf Garden-Chicago by R. Kramer, on Flickr
    and- here are others we hadn't sampled......
    ImageBurmese Sweets @ Tea Leaf Garden on Devon Avenue-Chicago by R. Kramer, on Flickr
    and
    ImageBurmese Sweets @ Tea Leaf Garden on Devon Avenue-Chicago by R. Kramer, on Flickr

    All in all- I wasn't as impressed as my many visits under prior owners.
    The Burmese- have a wonderful culture and cuisine that is under represented considering how many of their "neighbors"- India or Thailand or China- have innumerable numbers of Dining Options in Chicago and beyond.....yet The Burmese folks in The US, have stayed with Supermarket Sushi- and not ventured into diners and Restaurants.
    Wonder why?
    The Rohingya Refugees , that are being shoved into Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh ought to be encouraged to resettled here - and open restaurants and Mosques too (if they make as much as a restaurant or diner :wink: I'm not sure) because the situation on the ground there- is really- a horrible Genocide that's grossly underReported.
    My better half's done Charity Work there as part of her http://www.Bookwallah.org initiatives in Southerner's Asia and around The Globe, and shared with me, some of what she experienced in The Camps.
    Not Good. :(
    Here's to hoping that Tea Leaf Garden- gets their "old-chef" to return....and find their groove-again.
  • Post #54 - January 1st, 2019, 4:04 pm
    Post #54 - January 1st, 2019, 4:04 pm Post #54 - January 1st, 2019, 4:04 pm
    This Pew Research Center fact sheet indicates that the size of the Burmese population in Chicago isn't within the top ten among US cities. I wonder why not.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #55 - January 1st, 2019, 4:18 pm
    Post #55 - January 1st, 2019, 4:18 pm Post #55 - January 1st, 2019, 4:18 pm
    Katie wrote:This Pew Research Center fact sheet indicates that the size of the Burmese population in Chicago isn't within the top ten among US cities. I wonder why not.

    Perhaps it's because those heading from Burma/Myanmar for the Midwest are more likely to settle 180 miles away in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which has been the primary area for Burmese resettlement for many years. That fact sheet erroneously omits Fort Wayne, with its 6,000 residents of Burmese birth, so its accuracy is suspect. Fort Wayne is a good place for anyone looking for authentic Burmese cuisine, in restaurants and grocery stores.

    Ref: Nation of Immigrants: Fleeing Burma for Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Post #56 - January 1st, 2019, 4:25 pm
    Post #56 - January 1st, 2019, 4:25 pm Post #56 - January 1st, 2019, 4:25 pm
    That is odd. I wonder why Fort Wayne isn't on that list. Separately, I wonder why the third largest city in the US doesn't attract this particular immigrant population (and perhaps others) to the same degree that smaller cities such as Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis-St. Paul do. Obviously, a seed population, an existing immigrant community, draws more immigrants from the same country. So what's off-putting about Chicago? Cost of living, perhaps? But that doesn't explain why New York is third on the list (or fourth, if Fort Wayne is erroneously omitted).
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #57 - June 6th, 2019, 4:48 pm
    Post #57 - June 6th, 2019, 4:48 pm Post #57 - June 6th, 2019, 4:48 pm
    As an additional data point, another great meal here. I think the move is salad(s) + mohinga (although the roti canai and satay are more than worthwhile, as are some of the other dishes lauded above). The new menu is gigantic, although not all dishes seem to be available (not clear if they ever were). The menu indicates that you can specify spice level, although our salads had a good amount of bird’s eye chili without that. Business doesn’t seem to be booming, so don’t forget about this place.

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