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Me Dee Cafe - new Thai place at Damen/Lawrence (w/ pics)

Me Dee Cafe - new Thai place at Damen/Lawrence (w/ pics)
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  • Me Dee Cafe - new Thai place at Damen/Lawrence (w/ pics)

    Post #1 - August 16th, 2009, 3:15 pm
    Post #1 - August 16th, 2009, 3:15 pm Post #1 - August 16th, 2009, 3:15 pm
    I never would have noticed this place had my sister not raved about the mushroom salad and ginger ice cream she had here. So I decided to try some take-out and came away pretty impressed. Me Dee has been open about a month now and while it does not appear to be heading down the road of a Spoon Thai per se, it clearly aims to rise above the ordinary neighborhood Thai place we've become accustomed to seeing in the Chicago area.

    There's little room to eat in here. Two picnic tables and a few counter seats is all, although it's pretty modern and nicely decorated. A large freezer of frozen desserts and a number of packaged Thai snacks on shelves occupy most of the restaurant. I believe the place is co-owned by sisters and the one who cooks apparently cooked at a Thai/sushi place in Rogers Park.

    Just about the time my dishes were coming out of the kitchen, I noticed a specials board listing four specials, all in Thai but only two were translated. One which was not translated turned out to be my favorite shrimp paste rice with pork, egg and apples (I think this version substituted mangoes for apples) which I always ordered from Spoon. The woman at the counter (one of the co-owners) showed me the dish which had already been prepared for one of her friends. It looked beautifully plated and I'll definitely be trying their version soon. But today I tried Sunny Sunny and Cracker Chicken Salad.

    I first tried Sunny Sunny. This was about 10 quail eggs, lightly fried and served essentially sunny side up with a type of soy sauce (also pictured on their web site):

    Image

    I liked the delicate quail eggs and the simple but nice flavor when dabbed with the soy sauce. I'm not sure why they also gave me a small package of dried, fried clams and I'm not sure how I was supposed to eat them (probably not even for this dish), but when mixed with the eggs and soy, I enjoyed the eggs even more.

    Image

    I also tried the cracker chicken salad, essentially chicken larb. Very flesh flavors, nice texture of the chicken, the "cracker" portion were crsipy, fried wonton skins, but it could have used a little more heat and a little more sour. Overall, fresh and refined and good but needs a little work.

    Image

    The star of the meal though was definitely dessert. Thai tea ice cream made in-house. I got home and opened the container to find what appeared to be a frozen Thai iced tea. I tasted it to find out it tasted exactly like a Thai iced tea but so much better, and it was amazingly creamy. I also purchased a coffee ice cream (must have been a small mix up because I wanted ginger) and it was good, but not nearly as good as the tea ice cream. They make a number of ice creams in house including the ones I tried and banana-coconut, ginger and I believe a couple of others. Here's the tea:

    Image

    I'll definitely be stopping by to test some more items and to try the shrimp paste rice, but even with the number of excellent Thai options in the Lincoln Square area, this will definitely be joining my rotation, at the very least for their ice cream.

    Me Dee Cafe
    4805 N. Damen
    Chicago, IL 60625
    773.989.4444
    (hours and delivery area listed on the website)
    Last edited by BR on August 16th, 2009, 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - August 16th, 2009, 4:11 pm
    Post #2 - August 16th, 2009, 4:11 pm Post #2 - August 16th, 2009, 4:11 pm
    BR wrote:I first tried Sunny Sunny. This was about 10 half quail eggs, lightly fried and served essentially sunny side up with a type of soy sauce (also pictured on their web site):

    Wow, those look terrific!

    Web site quotes $4 for the order, ten perfectly fried quail eggs for four bucks seems a decent deal, especially when you toss in dried clams.

    Me Dee is a me see in the near future.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - August 16th, 2009, 5:47 pm
    Post #3 - August 16th, 2009, 5:47 pm Post #3 - August 16th, 2009, 5:47 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    BR wrote:I first tried Sunny Sunny. This was about 10 half quail eggs, lightly fried and served essentially sunny side up with a type of soy sauce (also pictured on their web site):

    Wow, those look terrific!

    Web site quotes $4 for the order, ten perfectly fried quail eggs for four bucks seems a decent deal, especially when you toss in dried clams.

    Me Dee is a me see in the near future.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Funny, I said "half" eggs in my post for some reason, but that obviously makes no sense. And I can't promise you that they'll put the $1 package of clams in your bag, but if not, they sell those and many other items on the shelves. But yes, a pretty good deal. Some items on the menu might have been a little overpriced compared to other Thai restaurants in the area, but not significantly.

    The pictures above were taken at home as I did not have my camera when I was in Me Dee.
  • Post #4 - August 28th, 2009, 5:21 am
    Post #4 - August 28th, 2009, 5:21 am Post #4 - August 28th, 2009, 5:21 am
    BR wrote:I first tried Sunny Sunny. This was about 10 quail eggs, lightly fried and served essentially sunny side up with a type of soy sauce (also pictured on their web site):

    Sunny Sunny drew me in, no included pack of clams, but we ordered asked for a Thai style dipping sauce that worked very well.

    Sunny Sunny

    Image

    Image

    Quail eggs were tasty, though really more of a novelty than anything else. We were charged $1 for the dipping sauce, a mix of fish sauce and sambal oelek, fair I suppose.

    With our various orders, there were three of us for lunch, we qualified for a free drink. We ordered two Thai iced coffee, one free, one we paid for. Humorously the 'free' came in a Styrofoam cup the paid-for in a glass.

    Thai Iced Coffee

    Image

    Banana coconut ice cream was interesting, good flavor and texture, but left a hint of an odd pasty taste in my mouth. Steve Z thought it might be from using tapioca starch in the ice cream.

    Banana Coconut Ice Cream

    Image

    Of the other dishes we tried none really jumped out, well prepared with fresh ingredients, but we had no luck in getting non Americanized versions and lunch ended up skewed toward neutral/sweet. I imagine if one worked up to regular customer status this would change, but our waitress seemed disinclined to interact with us on all but the most basic level.

    My post sounds somewhat negative, in the scheme of things Me Dee is a better than average Thai restaurant with house made ice cream and a fun to eat and order Sunny Sunny. If I lived nearby I'd get takeout or delivery on occasion, but as a destination I doubt I will be returning soon.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - November 17th, 2009, 8:54 pm
    Post #5 - November 17th, 2009, 8:54 pm Post #5 - November 17th, 2009, 8:54 pm
    LTH,

    Mike Sula sussed out a secret late night congee menu at Me Dee. Sounds like a reason to give them another go.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #6 - November 17th, 2009, 9:44 pm
    Post #6 - November 17th, 2009, 9:44 pm Post #6 - November 17th, 2009, 9:44 pm
    Credit for actually spotting the furtive delivery of the secret menu to another table belongs to the eagle eyed and ever vigilant Seth Zurer.
  • Post #7 - November 19th, 2009, 9:10 am
    Post #7 - November 19th, 2009, 9:10 am Post #7 - November 19th, 2009, 9:10 am
    Thanks to the eagle-eyed reportage on The Food Chain, I sauntered over to Me Dee Cafe around 10:30 last night, a mere two minute walk from my place on Damen, to try the late night congee menu. Maybe because I'm asian (not Thai, though), when I asked the really nice women at the counter for the Thai congee menu, they handed it out immediately. Well, tough luck for me I can't read Thai, so I just asked one of the ladies for her recommendations. I ended up with the crab Thai omelette and the chinese sausage, made crisp, and then combined with a sauce of chilis, onions, and Thai fish sauce.

    I thought the Thai omelette was ok, not greasy, but ordinary, not as robust as the ground pork omelette Aroy Thai has on it's Thai menu. But the chinese sausage dish was a delightful surprise, sour-pungent,with the sausage perfectly crispy, not burnt, like what you get in Asia in the street food stalls. When you mix the sausage and the sauce in with the congee, the hotness of the chilis come front and center. The congee, by itself, by the way, is bland.

    I'm coming back in the next couple of evenings to try the other side dishes, with the duck eggs and the vegetables with salted fish top of my list. I'm Filipino, so when we eat Filipino-style congee, we have everything mixed up in it (like Chinese congee). For Thai style, one takes a spoonfull of the side dish and lightly mixes it up with the congee, preserving the porridge's integrity.
  • Post #8 - November 19th, 2009, 10:27 am
    Post #8 - November 19th, 2009, 10:27 am Post #8 - November 19th, 2009, 10:27 am
    m'th'su wrote:Credit for actually spotting the furtive delivery of the secret menu to another table belongs to the eagle eyed and ever vigilant Seth Zurer.


    My props! WOOHOO! Too bad I was so irritated by our meal that I'll probably never return. :)
  • Post #9 - May 12th, 2010, 12:30 am
    Post #9 - May 12th, 2010, 12:30 am Post #9 - May 12th, 2010, 12:30 am
    Me Dee Cafe

    For my money, the best and most authentic Asian food I've had in Chicago in a long time is off the late-night menu at Me Dee Cafe, a Thai restaurant so small and friendly that it seems to come from another time and place. During early hours the menu features a limited selection of the usual Thai restaurant stables -- curries, basil chicken, etc., all done well. But after 9 pm (they're quite strict about this cut-off) they feature of menu of congee (rice porridge) with a selection of side dishes that can be slurped in or along with the chok (as congee is called in Thailand). The sides include dried sweet pickled turnips stir-fried with eggs, water spinach stir-fried with garlic and chili, crabmeat omelet, Chinese sausage salad, and deep-fried seasoned dried pork. But my absolute favorites are stir-fired minced Chinese black olive and ground chicken, and dried shrimp salad. That last is fabulous -- the tiny dried shrimp bathed in a spicy citrus dressing with chili and ginger brought back memories of Bangkok in a flash. The congee is $3 for large, $1.50 for small, with the sides $5 or $6 apiece. Me Dee is open as late as 2 am seven days a week. Highly recommended.

    Me Dee Cafe
    4805 North Damen Avenue
    (773) 989-4444
    lgussow
  • Post #10 - October 16th, 2011, 9:00 am
    Post #10 - October 16th, 2011, 9:00 am Post #10 - October 16th, 2011, 9:00 am
    With my usual spots not being open very late, last night a friend and I hit up Me Dee late . . . it had been a while for me. Phat kee mao was solid; fiery as requested. An interesting new taste for me at Me Dee was ground pork with preserved eggs. It was tasty, but fell a little short of expectations. I didn't ask if the the pork included offal, although the texture suggested it might have. But the preserved egg (which they preserve in-house) was lacking the expected funk of preserved eggs (and was considerably paler than expected). Still a good dish and one I'd recommend, just nothing I'd go out of my way for. My saddest moment was when I found out they didn't have their wonderful Thai iced tea ice cream last night - I love that stuff.

    In short, if you're looking for some authentic Thai late at night when your favorite spots are closed, Me Dee should fit the bill. It's not up to the level of the top Thai places in town, but it's better and far more interesting than your run-of-the-mill Thai neighborhood spot.
  • Post #11 - December 5th, 2015, 6:26 pm
    Post #11 - December 5th, 2015, 6:26 pm Post #11 - December 5th, 2015, 6:26 pm
    G Wiv wrote:LTH,

    Mike Sula sussed out a secret late night congee menu at Me Dee. Sounds like a reason to give them another go.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Hi,

    Talking to the guy who offered the Burmese dinner fundraiser, he mentioned Me Dee as a late night destination. He said this otherwise sleepy restaurant is filled with Thais eating soup late at night. He had wondered how they managed until he noticed it was late night destination.

    Their hours are 4:00 pm until 1:30 am.

    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 #12 - December 22nd, 2021, 2:27 pm
    Post #12 - December 22nd, 2021, 2:27 pm Post #12 - December 22nd, 2021, 2:27 pm
    Last month, five of us set out for post-bar Thai food on a Friday evening. We started at our favorite -- quite near Me Dee -- but were turned away at 9:07 pm because they had closed at 9:00. Such is life in the covid era. Happily, we only needed to travel a couple blocks north to Me Dee. I hadn't been there in years but I'm really glad circumstances landed us there because the food was great. Below are some pics. I think most of the descriptions are accurate but please forgive any errors (corrections welcome). It was some time ago, I didn't take notes and we were somewhat in our cups . . .

    Image
    Salted Crispy Pork Belly

    Image
    Unknown Sausage

    Image
    Wings

    Image
    Chive Dumplings

    Image
    Macaroni w/Chicken

    Image
    White Flower Mushroom Salad w/Ground Pork

    Image
    Crab Omelet

    Image
    Jok

    Image
    Chinese Sausage Fried Rice

    Image
    Preserved Cabbage Salad

    Image
    Crispy Tofu Salad

    Image
    Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli w/Crispy Pork Belly

    Image
    Basil Pork

    Image
    Stir-Fried Ground Pork w/Preserved Egg

    Not a single dish in the line-up I wouldn't order again. My favorites were the preserved cabbage salad, the white flower mushroom salad w/ground pork, the ground pork w/preserved egg and that crazy macaroni dish.

    =R=

    Me Dee Cafe
    4805 N Damen Ave
    Chicago, IL 60625
    (773) 989-4444
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #13 - December 22nd, 2021, 3:12 pm
    Post #13 - December 22nd, 2021, 3:12 pm Post #13 - December 22nd, 2021, 3:12 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Last month, five of us set out for post-bar Thai food on a Friday evening. We started at our favorite -- quite near Me Dee -- but were turned away at 9:07 pm because they had closed at 9:00. Such is life in the covid era. Happily, we only needed to travel a couple blocks north to Me Dee. I hadn't been there in years but I'm really glad circumstances landed us there because the food was great. Below are some pics. I think most of the descriptions are accurate but please forgive any errors (corrections welcome). It was some time ago, I didn't take notes and we were somewhat in our cups . . .

    Image
    Salted Crispy Pork Belly

    Image
    Unknown Sausage

    Image
    Wings

    Image
    Chive Dumplings

    Image
    Macaroni w/Chicken

    Image
    White Flower Mushroom Salad w/Ground Pork

    Image
    Crab Omelet

    Image
    Jok

    Image
    Chinese Sausage Fried Rice

    Image
    Preserved Cabbage Salad

    Image
    Crispy Tofu Salad

    Image
    Stir-Fried Chinese Broccoli w/Crispy Pork Belly

    Image
    Basil Pork

    Image
    Stir-Fried Ground Pork w/Preserved Egg

    Not a single dish in the line-up I wouldn't order again. My favorites were the preserved cabbage salad, the white flower mushroom salad w/ground pork, the ground pork w/preserved egg and that crazy macaroni dish.

    =R=

    Me Dee Cafe
    4805 N Damen Ave
    Chicago, IL 60625
    (773) 989-4444


    What a meal!! That’s the best restaurant post I’ve seen this year, I think.

    The unknown sausage definitely looks like Naem, the fermented sour sausage in Nam Khao Tod.

    I may need to take a run into the city tomorrow to pick this up for pre-holiday dinner!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #14 - December 22nd, 2021, 3:44 pm
    Post #14 - December 22nd, 2021, 3:44 pm Post #14 - December 22nd, 2021, 3:44 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:What a meal!! That’s the best restaurant post I’ve seen this year, I think.

    The unknown sausage definitely looks like Naem, the fermented sour sausage in Nam Khao Tod.

    I may need to take a run into the city tomorrow to pick this up for pre-holiday dinner!

    Haha, thanks. It's one of very few restaurant meals I've had this year. I think you're right about the sausage. Its color threw me but that makes perfect sense. I appreciate the intel. :)

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #15 - December 22nd, 2021, 4:46 pm
    Post #15 - December 22nd, 2021, 4:46 pm Post #15 - December 22nd, 2021, 4:46 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    boudreaulicious wrote:What a meal!! That’s the best restaurant post I’ve seen this year, I think.

    The unknown sausage definitely looks like Naem, the fermented sour sausage in Nam Khao Tod.

    I may need to take a run into the city tomorrow to pick this up for pre-holiday dinner!

    Haha, thanks. It's one of very few restaurant meals I've had this year. I think you're right about the sausage. Its color threw me but that makes perfect sense. I appreciate the intel. :)

    =R=


    Checking the online menu, practically nothing you have pictured is on it —shocker :).

    Were these specials or did you just tell them to bring you delicious things? I may just go in and show them your pics and ask them to give me one of each!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #16 - December 22nd, 2021, 5:33 pm
    Post #16 - December 22nd, 2021, 5:33 pm Post #16 - December 22nd, 2021, 5:33 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    boudreaulicious wrote:What a meal!! That’s the best restaurant post I’ve seen this year, I think.

    The unknown sausage definitely looks like Naem, the fermented sour sausage in Nam Khao Tod.

    I may need to take a run into the city tomorrow to pick this up for pre-holiday dinner!

    Haha, thanks. It's one of very few restaurant meals I've had this year. I think you're right about the sausage. Its color threw me but that makes perfect sense. I appreciate the intel. :)

    =R=


    Checking the online menu, practically nothing you have pictured is on it —shocker :).

    Were these specials or did you just tell them to bring you delicious things? I may just go in and show them your pics and ask them to give me one of each!

    LOL, yeah. The online menu is a testament to everything that's wrong with 3rd party apps. I think it's mentioned upthread but there are two menus - the regular (portrait-style) and the Thai (landscape-style). I think all but one or two of the dishes we ordered were from the latter. Some seem to appear on both. Just ask for the Thai menu. :wink: 8)

    Here are some pics of the Thai menu . . .

    Image
    Me Dee Cafe Thai Menu, Page 1- 21.1119

    Image
    Me Dee Cafe Thai Menu, Page 2- 21.1119

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #17 - December 22nd, 2021, 6:18 pm
    Post #17 - December 22nd, 2021, 6:18 pm Post #17 - December 22nd, 2021, 6:18 pm
    For a couple of years I was a semi semi-late night consumer of Me Dee’s congee. I’d get one or three add-ins and be a happy camper. A real gem.
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow

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