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Spoon Thai Meal 10.15.05 [Pic]

Spoon Thai Meal 10.15.05 [Pic]
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  • Spoon Thai Meal 10.15.05 [Pic]

    Post #1 - October 17th, 2005, 9:14 pm
    Post #1 - October 17th, 2005, 9:14 pm Post #1 - October 17th, 2005, 9:14 pm
    On Saturday evening I went to Spoon Thai with several friends.*

    I was given the responsibility of ordering, and after some brief discussion, here is what was settled upon:

    néua tàet dìaw : semi-dried and fried “jerky” beef with a spicy and sour, tamarind dipping sauce
    hãwy thâwt : Thai-style mussel omelette with bean sprouts
    kài thâwt : fried chicken pieces with a spicy and sour, tamarind dipping sauce
    yam hûa plíi : banana blossom salad with chicken and shrimp
    kaeng phánaeng néua : mild, savoury, and thick curry with beef
    phàk kha-náa mũu kràwp : Chinese broccoli stir-fried with crispy pork
    kaeng sôm kûng sòt : thin and “sour” tamarind-flavoured curry with fresh shrimp, Napa cabbage, and daikon radish [no coconut milk]
    khài jiaw mũu sàp : Thai-style omelette with minced pork

    I am happy to report that everything was very near the top of its form.** In the case of the mussel omelette, one of my friends, who happens to be Thai, remarked that, "[On this night,] there isn't a better version in town." I was inclined to agree, and in my opinion, the fried chicken, the banana blossom salad, and the sour curry stood similarly. I was particularly taken with the sour curry, which had a body and a balance that was wondrous to behold.

    ----------------------------

    Before parting, Wanna gifted me with a large container of homemade plaa haeng*** from Thailand:

    Image
    plaa haeng

    This is a common Thai snack to accompany alcohol, and with the exception of dried fish and chile, the ingredients are somewhat variable. This particular mix contains crisply-fried fish, sesame seeds, dried/fried chiles, deep-fried lime leaves, deep-fried holy basil leaves, deep-fried garlic slivers, deep-fried shallot slivers, roasted peanuts, palm sugar, and spices.

    If I can manage to reverse-engineer this item to some satisfaction, a number of you are looking at this year's Christmas present. ;)

    E.M.


    * Two members of our party--a married Anglo couple--had never been to Spoon Thai before and, admittedly, had no exposure to Thai foodstuffs outside of the Chicago ThaiAm restaurant mainstream. [FWIW, the remaining members of our party--me excepted--were Thai.]

    ** I am equally happy to report that the meal was very well received by the Spoon Thai newcomers in our party. Frankly, I think that they were shocked by the experience. They kept mumbling, and about the fried chicken in particular. But, we all know that Spoon's fried chicken is a notorious gateway drug. ;)

    *** Literally, "dried fish." At the restaurant I discovered that this snack may go by a number of different names, but we were all able to agree upon this one.
  • Post #2 - October 19th, 2005, 7:03 am
    Post #2 - October 19th, 2005, 7:03 am Post #2 - October 19th, 2005, 7:03 am
    Thanks for the update, Erik,

    I recently grabbed some takeout from Spoon when my mother stopped by recently and requested "Asian" food.

    My choice of dishes overlapped your list by two: the banana blossom salad is one of my favorites (but a bit too creamy for petit pois), and I've recently developed a deep appreciation for the crispy pork and Chinese broccoli.

    We also ordered a yum nue (which I always find pleasing), pad woon sen (which my mother swooned over), and nam prik pao. I generally find Spoon's "regular-menu" nam prik pao to be a little flat for my tastes, but it was a fallback in case my mother disliked the other dishes.

    This was my first time using Spoon as a takeout destination and I was pleased to find that everything made the transition perfectly from their kitchen to my table, a mile and a half away.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #3 - October 19th, 2005, 8:39 am
    Post #3 - October 19th, 2005, 8:39 am Post #3 - October 19th, 2005, 8:39 am
    phàk kha-náa mũu kràwp : Chinese broccoli stir-fried with crispy pork


    I wonder if this is the mystery dish which Helen recollected long after a dinner, which I couldn't remember.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #4 - October 19th, 2005, 9:40 am
    Post #4 - October 19th, 2005, 9:40 am Post #4 - October 19th, 2005, 9:40 am
    eatchicago wrote:We also ordered [...]pad woon sen [...]


    I adore yam wún sên, and Spoon does a very nice version. My favourite version, however, is that of Thai Avenue; the chef has a phenomenal touch.

    eatchicago wrote:[...] and nam prik pao. I generally find Spoon's "regular-menu" nam prik pao to be a little flat for my tastes, but it was a fallback in case my mother disliked the other dishes.


    Which type of meat do you choose for phàt náam phrík phão? I would encourage you to try it with squid (plaa mèuk) if you haven't already.*

    ------------------------

    Cathy2 wrote:I wonder if this is the mystery dish which Helen recollected long after a dinner, which I couldn't remember.


    I have no idea, but it is an item that we have ordered with Helen at both Spoon Thai and TAC Quick.

    E.M.


    * With some notice, I am sure that they will also be willing to make a version of this dish with clams (hãwy). IMO, squid and clams fare the best in this particular preparation.
  • Post #5 - October 19th, 2005, 9:43 am
    Post #5 - October 19th, 2005, 9:43 am Post #5 - October 19th, 2005, 9:43 am
    Erik M. wrote:Which type of meat do you choose for phàt náam phrík phão? I would encourage you to try it with squid (plaa mèuk) if you haven't already.*


    I chose chicken, since this was a safety-net dish for my mother. I would love to try both squid and clams, the latter sounding particularly interesting to me.

    Thanks.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #6 - October 19th, 2005, 11:16 am
    Post #6 - October 19th, 2005, 11:16 am Post #6 - October 19th, 2005, 11:16 am
    I was watching molto mario the other day, which I quite enjoy (even if he seems to make gratuitous mob references in each episode), and watching him prepare artichokes really set me off on a craving for banana blossom, specifically yam hua plie.

    Erik (and others), would you say that Spoon's version is the best currently around? What do you think makes it stand out for instance from yum thai's?
  • Post #7 - October 19th, 2005, 4:49 pm
    Post #7 - October 19th, 2005, 4:49 pm Post #7 - October 19th, 2005, 4:49 pm
    zim wrote:I was watching molto mario the other day, which I quite enjoy (even if he seems to make gratuitous mob references in each episode), and watching him prepare artichokes really set me off on a craving for banana blossom, specifically yam hua plie.

    Erik (and others), would you say that Spoon's version is the best currently around? What do you think makes it stand out for instance from yum thai's?


    Man, what is it with you and the tough questions? ;)

    The last time that I ordered yam hûa plíi at Yum Thai (in the first quarter of this year) I was told that they didn't have the proper ingredients.

    I am not about to press my dim memory into service. That would hardly be fair.

    Now, I don't frequently order this dish in restaurants, but when I do it is usually the version at Spoon Thai. What I particularly like about the preparation at Spoon is the evident care and handling of the blossom, and the relative position that the spicy náam phrík phão has in the flavour profile. The sweet heat of the chile jam just kinda lingers there mysteriously, coming in and out of focus as your tongue also takes time to mull over the creaminess of the coconut, the sourness of the lime, and the saltiness of the fish sauce.


    E.M.
  • Post #8 - October 19th, 2005, 5:05 pm
    Post #8 - October 19th, 2005, 5:05 pm Post #8 - October 19th, 2005, 5:05 pm
    Erik M. wrote:The last time that I ordered yam hûa plíi at Yum Thai (in the first quarter of this year) I was told that they didn't have the proper ingredients.


    Is this the right 'season' for banana blossoms then? I remember seeing banana blossoms on Argyle in Summer.

    'Seasonal' international food causes me much confusion. I can never keep track. I heard mangoes are available year round in Thailand (which made me want to relocate).
  • Post #9 - October 21st, 2005, 1:13 pm
    Post #9 - October 21st, 2005, 1:13 pm Post #9 - October 21st, 2005, 1:13 pm
    Erik M. wrote:Before parting, Wanna gifted me with a large container of homemade plaa haeng*** from Thailand:

    Image
    plaa haeng

    This is a common Thai snack to accompany alcohol, and with the exception of dried fish and chile, the ingredients are somewhat variable. This particular mix contains crisply-fried fish, sesame seeds, dried/fried chiles, deep-fried lime leaves, deep-fried holy basil leaves, deep-fried garlic slivers, deep-fried shallot slivers, roasted peanuts, palm sugar, and spices.

    If I can manage to reverse-engineer this item to some satisfaction, a number of you are looking at this year's Christmas present. ;)

    E.M.


    HI,

    I was there on Wednesday evening with some friends as well as my 15-year old niece. We used your menu, except the omelettes because we were small group, and added one-bite salad. As I predicted, the Chinese brocolli with the crispy pork was the dish Helen liked long ago. In fact she liked it better this second time around because the pork bits were mostly cracklings. While I consented to my niece to have the crab rangoon, she eventually came round to trying almost everything and liking it.

    I mentioned to Wanna how pleased you were with the snacks. She gave me a small quantity to try. It seemed to me the dried fish had a sugar coating to them similar to the style found on nuts. I forgot about your comments on what the leaves were. I asked Wanna who commented they were lemon grass leaves. While the leaves do seem to be fried, though my initial reaction they were dried. I avoided the chilis naturally.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #10 - October 21st, 2005, 1:17 pm
    Post #10 - October 21st, 2005, 1:17 pm Post #10 - October 21st, 2005, 1:17 pm
    Cathy2 wrote: I avoided the chilis naturally.



    There's nothing natural about that. :lol:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #11 - October 21st, 2005, 2:08 pm
    Post #11 - October 21st, 2005, 2:08 pm Post #11 - October 21st, 2005, 2:08 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:I forgot about your comments on what the leaves were. I asked Wanna who commented they were lemon grass leaves.


    Wow, thanks.

    From now on, when a Thai person (such as Wanna) tells me--in Thai--that something contains bai makrut and/or bai kra-phrao, I will be sure to think twice. :twisted:

    E.M.
  • Post #12 - October 21st, 2005, 2:29 pm
    Post #12 - October 21st, 2005, 2:29 pm Post #12 - October 21st, 2005, 2:29 pm
    Erik M. wrote:plaa haeng
    This is a common Thai snack

    Cathy2 wrote: It seemed to me the dried fish had a sugar coating to them similar to the style found on nuts.


    The 'dried fish' doesn't taste fishy either, right? I remember a Thai airways flight where small snack packets, like those that contain pretzels and nuts. were served with sodas and drinks. The 'snack' packets contained nuts, small chex mix-ish crunchies and teeny dried fish - the individual items discernible only if one cared to examine them. The woman sitting next to me quickly scarfed it down without looking (or really tasting the fish), and wondering what it was after eating most/all of it. "Nice snack," she remarked, "I wonder what it is?" peering intently at the now empty packet. "What is that?" she asked, pointing on the picture on the packet to a small brown rod like object with two teeny black dots, among the various components. "Dried fish," I replied.
    :shock: Turns out she was (like, I'm sure, many of the other passengers) a strict vegetarian (for religious reasons)!
    Tasty little snack - are these available in some form or other on Argyle or Thai grocer? Maybe even Ichiban?
  • Post #13 - October 21st, 2005, 2:43 pm
    Post #13 - October 21st, 2005, 2:43 pm Post #13 - October 21st, 2005, 2:43 pm
    sazerac wrote:Tasty little snack - are these available in some form or other on Argyle or Thai grocer? Maybe even Ichiban?


    There are a couple different types of sweet/crispy fish snacks available in the Thai markets. Ask the shopclerks for direction.

    And, hey, don't bother with trying to pick one, buy one of each. They are cheap cheap cheap.

    Thai Grocery
    5014 N. Broadway
    773.561.5345


    Thailand Food Corp.
    4821 N. Broadway
    773.728.1199

    Both stores ship nationwide.

    E.M.
  • Post #14 - October 22nd, 2005, 9:10 am
    Post #14 - October 22nd, 2005, 9:10 am Post #14 - October 22nd, 2005, 9:10 am
    zim wrote:Erik (and others), would you say that Spoon's version is the best currently around? What do you think makes it stand out for instance from yum thai's?


    Well, based on this thread we went to spoon yesterday for a light lunch of banana blossom salad, preserved egg salad, and crispy pork with chinese broccoli.

    Everything was very good, preserved egg, creamy and a little funky, chinese broccoli light, and full of flavor, but the clear dish of the day was the yam hûa plíi. Quite frankly, spoon's banana blossom kicks yum thai's *ss. From the caramely sweetness you mentioned, to the brown fried shallots on top, to the nice warm temperature it was served at. So good we had to eat the lettuce it was served on to get every bit of sauce. Honestly the craving I had in my mind was for yum thai's dish (which I've eaten more recently than you, and is still something I'd eat very willingly) but to get something that exceeds the craving of your mind's eye, is very very unusual, and it made our day.
  • Post #15 - October 22nd, 2005, 12:24 pm
    Post #15 - October 22nd, 2005, 12:24 pm Post #15 - October 22nd, 2005, 12:24 pm
    zim wrote:
    zim wrote:Erik (and others), would you say that Spoon's version is the best currently around? What do you think makes it stand out for instance from yum thai's?


    Well, based on this thread we went to spoon yesterday for a light lunch of banana blossom salad, preserved egg salad, and crispy pork with chinese broccoli.

    Everything was very good, preserved egg, creamy and a little funky, chinese broccoli light, and full of flavor, but the clear dish of the day was the yam hûa plíi. Quite frankly, spoon's banana blossom kicks yum thai's *ss. From the caramely sweetness you mentioned, to the brown fried shallots on top, to the nice warm temperature it was served at. So good we had to eat the lettuce it was served on to get every bit of sauce. Honestly the craving I had in my mind was for yum thai's dish (which I've eaten more recently than you, and is still something I'd eat very willingly) but to get something that exceeds the craving of your mind's eye, is very very unusual, and it made our day.


    Well, I think that captures my feelings of the two places as well. I really like Yum Thai, and am very thankful it's nearby, but I think that Spoon just jumps out you, flavor-wise, skill-wise, ingredient-wise, in ways that Yum Thai cannot. I put Spoon up there with the best Thai restaurants I have had in the USA (and I mean up there at the top, not "as good" as I imply).
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #16 - October 23rd, 2005, 4:21 pm
    Post #16 - October 23rd, 2005, 4:21 pm Post #16 - October 23rd, 2005, 4:21 pm
    I just subscribed to David Rosengarten's Rosengarten Report, and the Sept. 12, 2005, issue focuses on snack food. Among the items he raves about are a couple Thai items:
    Thai Tanya Tom Yum Crisp (five stars in his newsletter)
    Thong Muan (Crispy Rice) (five stars)
    Aji Ichiban Spicy Squid Ring (four stars)
    Calbee Shrimp Flavored Chips (four stars)
    Sukantha Rice Cracker with Cereal (four stars)

    Based on Rosengarten's descriptions, the Thai Tonya Tom Yum Crisp and Aji Ichiban Spicy Squid ring sound like they're similar to the snack mix from Spoon Thai. If you can't find any of these at local Thai grocery stores, but want to try them, I'd be happy to post ordering info.
  • Post #17 - October 24th, 2005, 3:33 pm
    Post #17 - October 24th, 2005, 3:33 pm Post #17 - October 24th, 2005, 3:33 pm
    Does anyone else get delivery from Spoon?

    I've been disappointed by it both times I've ordered. Timely and polite service, but mediocre food. The most recent order on Saturday included phenomenal Tom Kha, average pad woon sen, bland crispy pork with chinese broccoli and downright inedible banana blossom salad (is it supposed to have an incredibly odd fishy aftertaste or did they give me something else in error?)

    I hate to buck the LTH conventional wisdom and go against a crowd favorite, but I haven't been impressed either time. Maybe it's lost in the translation of delivery. Maybe I've had bad luck, twice.
  • Post #18 - October 24th, 2005, 6:14 pm
    Post #18 - October 24th, 2005, 6:14 pm Post #18 - October 24th, 2005, 6:14 pm
    Does anyone else get delivery from Spoon?


    I order in from Spoon Thai occasionally (and order from the Thai language menu) and I've never had any problem with the quality of delivered food. Now, it certainly isn't presented as nicely given the fact that it's delivered, but that's the only negative (and not even a negative from my point of view). I always order the banana blossom salad since that's my favorite -- maybe you just had a couple of off nights? Maybe you're a little farther away and the food does not arrive as fresh as it does for me? (I'm only a handful of blocks away)
  • Post #19 - October 25th, 2005, 11:34 pm
    Post #19 - October 25th, 2005, 11:34 pm Post #19 - October 25th, 2005, 11:34 pm
    Thank you Erik for recommending two new items to my Spoon repertoire. I had friends over for the never-ending White Sox game tonight and we ordered in from Spoon. Along with my usual orders (which always includes the banana blossom salad), I added the Thai-style omelette with minced pork and the Chinese broccoli with crispy pork. The omelette was very good -- I think I prefer the filled omelette offered by TAC Quick, but this was nonetheless delicious. The broccoli with pork was simply fantastic -- great flavors and loved the crunchiness of the pork. Everyone loved the choices.
  • Post #20 - October 26th, 2005, 9:07 am
    Post #20 - October 26th, 2005, 9:07 am Post #20 - October 26th, 2005, 9:07 am
    BR wrote:Thank you Erik for recommending two new items to my Spoon repertoire. I had friends over for the never-ending White Sox game tonight and we ordered in from Spoon. Along with my usual orders (which always includes the banana blossom salad), I added the Thai-style omelette with minced pork and the Chinese broccoli with crispy pork. The omelette was very good -- I think I prefer the filled omelette offered by TAC Quick, but this was nonetheless delicious. The broccoli with pork was simply fantastic -- great flavors and loved the crunchiness of the pork. Everyone loved the choices.


    For those that may not know:

    The Thai-style of omelette called khài jiaw is a traditional pairing/compliment with many spicy Thai dishes, and particularly, spicy curry dishes like the sour curry listed above. Thai-style omelettes are deliberately bland and neutral creations which are intended to provide a distinct counterpoint to the richness and/or pungency of a spicy dish. [Think of them too as providing a means of neutralizing and recalibrating an overstimulated palate.]

    Khài yát sài--the stuffed omelette to which BR refers--is altogether different from khài jiaw, and, to my mind, it is better suited to a different table array than the one listed above. [For example, I might pair khài yát sài to an array which is absent a curry per se, but which includes a náam phrík or a lon].

    FWIW, when I initially ordered an omelette above I requested that it be made with cha om, or accacia leaves, but they did not happen to have them on hand. [An accacia leaf omelette is my favourite pairing with the kaeng som listed above and, generally, with some advance notice, Spoon will make it for me (and you).]

    -------------------

    Order steamed rice, kaeng som, and khài jiaw sometime, and then try this:

    Spoon a mound of steamed rice on your plate and then spoon some of the thin, sour curry alongside. Now, alternate/combine bites of rice, sour curry, and Thai-style omelette (khài jiaw) . If you are like me, you will begin to see stars. ;)

    -------------------

    Omelette Sour Soup @ Appon's Thai Food

    E.M.
    Last edited by Erik M. on October 26th, 2005, 2:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #21 - October 26th, 2005, 9:42 am
    Post #21 - October 26th, 2005, 9:42 am Post #21 - October 26th, 2005, 9:42 am
    Khài yát sài--the stuffed omelette to which BR refers--is altogether different from khài jiaw, and, to my mind, it is better suited to a different table array than the one listed above. [For example, I might pair khài yát sài to an array which is absent a curry per se, but which includes a náam phrík or a lon].


    Do you know whether Spoon offers this stuffed omelette? I love TAC's version.

    Nonetheless, I did enjoy the minced pork omelette and used the sweet, slightly spicy sauce served with it, as well as the sauce from the curry dish . . . and enjoyed it very much.

    I plan on using your tasting tips with my next Spoon meal.
  • Post #22 - October 26th, 2005, 9:52 am
    Post #22 - October 26th, 2005, 9:52 am Post #22 - October 26th, 2005, 9:52 am
    BR wrote:
    Khài yát sài--the stuffed omelette to which BR refers--is altogether different from khài jiaw, and, to my mind, it is better suited to a different table array than the one listed above. [For example, I might pair khài yát sài to an array which is absent a curry per se, but which includes a náam phrík or a lon].


    Do you know whether Spoon offers this stuffed omelette? I love TAC's version.


    I do not believe that it is listed on any of the menus, but it is a classic Thai dish, and one which they will likely make if you ask.

    Just be sure to ask nicely. ;)

    E.M.
  • Post #23 - October 26th, 2005, 1:51 pm
    Post #23 - October 26th, 2005, 1:51 pm Post #23 - October 26th, 2005, 1:51 pm
    sazerac wrote:Tasty little snack - are these available in some form or other on Argyle or Thai grocer?


    This particular product closely approximates the crispy fish which are included in the mixture above:

    Image
    "seasoned anchovy with sesame seed natural crispy"

    The ingredient list for this product includes anchovy, sesame, salt, sugar, chile, and soybean oil.

    It is manufactured in Thailand and distributed by a company in Los Angeles.

    For the time being, you can find it at Viet Hoa Plaza, on Argyle.

    Viet Hoa Plaza
    1051 W. Argyle
    773.334.1028

    E.M.

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