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Khao Sawy aka "Kao Soi" @ TAC [Pic]

Khao Sawy aka "Kao Soi" @ TAC [Pic]
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  • Khao Sawy aka "Kao Soi" @ TAC [Pic]

    Post #1 - April 29th, 2005, 4:19 pm
    Post #1 - April 29th, 2005, 4:19 pm Post #1 - April 29th, 2005, 4:19 pm
    For a limited time only, khâo sawy* is a special offering at TAC Quick.

    Image
    khâo sawy

    Khâo sawy is a classic noodle dish from the Northern city of Chiang Mai, and one which is renowned throughout the world for its unique fusion of ingredients and culinary practices from East India, Arabia, China, and Thailand.

    Although cooks often interpret khâo sawy in dramatically different ways, several of the dish's main characteristics remain remarkably stable: the delectable contrast of both boiled and deep-fried egg noodles; meat of some sort--usu. chicken or beef--which has been napped with a pungent sauce fashioned from an array of East Indian and Arab spices; and an assortment of sweet, hot and tangy garnishes that the diner adds to the dish to suit his or her own taste.

    For the preparation of this dish at TAC, bone-in chicken portions are first braised in a wonderfully smooth and spicy curry sauce. For service, a handful of freshly-boiled egg noodles are placed in a bowl and then topped with some of the braised chicken and its sauce.** The assembly is finished with the addition of deep-fried egg noodles, slivered red onion, chopped scallion, cilantro, pickled mustard cabbage, and lime.

    Seth Zurer and I once briefly discussed khâo sawy, here.


    Regards,
    Erik M.

    TAC Quick
    3930 N. Sheridan
    773.327.5253
    Closed Tuesdays


    * This is my transliteration of the Thai script, but "kao soi" is TAC's transliteration, and the one that seems to appear with greatest frequency, both in Thailand and abroad.

    ** The diner is free to chose a leg or thigh portion of chicken.
  • Post #2 - April 29th, 2005, 6:41 pm
    Post #2 - April 29th, 2005, 6:41 pm Post #2 - April 29th, 2005, 6:41 pm
    I was delighted to see this on the chalk board last night. Best I've ever had. (I've only had it at maybe 3 places here and LA, but Andy's was the best.) Very delicate mustard green. I wonder if he makes it or if he soaks/blanches it to get rid of some of the harshness that I otherwise like but might throw off the balance here?
  • Post #3 - May 1st, 2005, 3:57 pm
    Post #3 - May 1st, 2005, 3:57 pm Post #3 - May 1st, 2005, 3:57 pm
    JeffB wrote:I was delighted to see this on the chalk board last night. Best I've ever had.


    Andy is touched.

    JeffB wrote:Very delicate mustard green. I wonder if he makes it or if he soaks/blanches it to get rid of some of the harshness that I otherwise like but might throw off the balance here?


    The latter, and not the former. But, I will say that it takes years of training to be able to spot the right brand. :twisted:

    Erik M.
  • Post #4 - May 2nd, 2005, 3:58 pm
    Post #4 - May 2nd, 2005, 3:58 pm Post #4 - May 2nd, 2005, 3:58 pm
    We were at TAC on Saturday afternoon specifically to try this dish*, but were told that it wasn't available since it was a new item and they were working on (the logistics of) the ingredients. We were very satisfied, nonetheless with other items on the menu. While eating I noticed it as the first item on the specials board - the different spelling (kao soi kai, IIRC) threw me off a little bit. (How is it pronounced?) I was told before I left to call ahead next time if I was looking for a specific dish.


    *May be vaguely relevant, so here's why:
    I know of a dish by the same/similar name as a Burmese dish via India. I don't know if it is a Thai dish or Burmese in origin as Erik notes here, or if there a difference.
    Many Indians fled Rangoon during the War and there still many, albeit quite aged, people in Calcutta that have a connection to Burma. I don't think any place in Calcutta serves Burmese food, but versions are still made in homes. Thus I have heard of the dish called "Khow Swe" (I was told pronounced Cow Sway) or "Khowsuey" as a Burmese-Indian dish. Try a google search for "Khowsuey" and you'll see what I mean by Indian Burmese...
    Interestingly this seems (from the ingredient list in some recipes) to have undergone significant changes. I've never tasted a 'real' version of the dish - either burmese or thai, just a version from a detailed recipe from an Aunt. There is also a variation with chicken called Panthe Khow Suey, is there a Thai equivalent?
  • Post #5 - May 2nd, 2005, 5:22 pm
    Post #5 - May 2nd, 2005, 5:22 pm Post #5 - May 2nd, 2005, 5:22 pm
    sazerac wrote:We were at TAC on Saturday afternoon specifically to try this dish


    We had pretty much the exact same thought, but on Sunday afternoon. We lucked out in that the kao soi was available, but the beef curry with roti was not. Instead, my husband went for the pork neck (also listed on the specials board), and was delighted by the subtle spiciness of both the meat and the accompanying sauce. We rounded out the meal with an excellent tom yum soup (with rather creamy tofu), and left stuffed and happy.
  • Post #6 - May 3rd, 2005, 7:04 am
    Post #6 - May 3rd, 2005, 7:04 am Post #6 - May 3rd, 2005, 7:04 am
    sazerac wrote:We were at TAC on Saturday afternoon specifically to try this dish*, but were told that it wasn't available since it was a new item and they were working on (the logistics of) the ingredients.

    Sazerac,

    Met Mike G at TAC for lunch yesterday, Khao sawy was available and well worth you going back to TAC for another try. Interesting contrasts, both flavor and texture wise. I particularly enjoyed the complex curry sauce.

    Roti Kaeng Karii Neua, which I was looking forward to trying, was unavailable, but we managed. :wink: Actually, we barely managed as TAC has such a number of interesting, well prepared, dishes it's sometimes difficult to winnow down to a reasonable number of dishes for amount of people present. Fortunately, both company and order wise, we ran into Kman at which point our friendly, efficient and, if I may say so, quite attractive, waitress seemed relieved.

    In addition to Khao sawy I revisited a few TAC favorites including Crisp fried Fish Maw with shrimp and cashews.
    Image

    TAC outstanding rendition of Thai Fried Chicken.
    Image

    Somtam Thai
    Image

    Pork neck laap
    Image

    Wild Boar Pad Ped
    Image

    We were told TAC had a very busy weekend and Roti Kaeng Karii Neua would be available again later in the week. I plan on going back for Roti Kaeng Karii Neua, especially given the fact Erik's curry powder is still in use.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - May 3rd, 2005, 7:14 am
    Post #7 - May 3rd, 2005, 7:14 am Post #7 - May 3rd, 2005, 7:14 am
    G Wiv wrote:Actually, we barely managed as TAC has such a number of interesting, well prepared, dishes it's sometimes difficult to winnow down to a reasonable number of dishes for amount of people present.


    At the risk of sounding like a broken record or contributing to over-hype, I could not agree more. TAC has become one of the places that I'm most likely to return to within a few days of eating there, simply because there's so much fresh in my mind about what I wanted to order, but didn't. We took a couple friends there on Saturday night and I wished we took a couple more.

    On every visit, I try to put together a healthy mix of: (A) stuff I had that I love and (B) new stuff that I want to try. This gets more and more difficult because most things from section (B) move immediately into section (A) after I taste them.

    G Wiv wrote:We were told TAC had a very busy weekend and Roti Kaeng Karii Neua would be available again later in the week. I plan on going back for Roti Kaeng Karii Neua, especially given the fact Erik's curry powder is still in use.


    At my late-ish dinner on Sat., they told me that I got the last one Sorry. :wink: :)

    Best,
    Michael / EC

    P.S. Nice pics
  • Post #8 - May 3rd, 2005, 8:06 am
    Post #8 - May 3rd, 2005, 8:06 am Post #8 - May 3rd, 2005, 8:06 am
    Can't someone stir this pot with a total slam of TAC? Sheesh. Anyway, here's the current specials board, note slightly different spelling of Cow Soy Kye (as Sazerac mentioned):

    Image

    Here's another shot of it, not quite as artfully arranged as Erik's bowl:

    Image

    And another:

    Image

    I will say that although I enjoyed this, I like another dish with a similar seasoning, the Kao Mok Kai Yang (bottom of board), better yet. It's a very simple dish-- rice and a piece of grilled chicken leg/thigh-- but the perfume of the curry coming off the rice is quite wonderful. I'm less excited by egg noodles, though it's certainly a worthy dish and offers more textural variety.

    Alas, as noted two of the things we wanted (the roti and something else) were not to be had after a busy weekend. So we had many other things instead, including the always terrific grilled pieces of pork neck, the sausage (coarser in texture but less funky than others around town, which I like better for that reason), and the slightly sweet, fun-n-crunchy fish maw salad:

    Image

    TAC Quick, one of the best restaurants in Chicago, a place that knows more about flavor than any five of the hottest new downtown bistro-fusion-singles joints put together.
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  • Post #9 - May 3rd, 2005, 8:27 am
    Post #9 - May 3rd, 2005, 8:27 am Post #9 - May 3rd, 2005, 8:27 am
    sazerac wrote:
    *May be vaguely relevant, so here's why:
    I know of a dish by the same/similar name as a Burmese dish via India. I don't know if it is a Thai dish or Burmese in origin as Erik notes here, or if there a difference.
    Many Indians fled Rangoon during the War and there still many, albeit quite aged, people in Calcutta that have a connection to Burma. I don't think any place in Calcutta serves Burmese food, but versions are still made in homes. Thus I have heard of the dish called "Khow Swe" (I was told pronounced Cow Sway) or "Khowsuey" as a Burmese-Indian dish. Try a google search for "Khowsuey" and you'll see what I mean by Indian Burmese...
    Interestingly this seems (from the ingredient list in some recipes) to have undergone significant changes. I've never tasted a 'real' version of the dish - either burmese or thai, just a version from a detailed recipe from an Aunt. There is also a variation with chicken called Panthe Khow Suey, is there a Thai equivalent?




    If folks are interested in this burma-india connection, there's a fairly nice book by amitav gosh that has a lot about indians in burma and burmese in india. It doesn't mention khowsuey, but does feature a lot of great descriptions of nonya food
  • Post #10 - May 3rd, 2005, 9:25 am
    Post #10 - May 3rd, 2005, 9:25 am Post #10 - May 3rd, 2005, 9:25 am
    I have come to <b>love</b> the Kow Soi from Sticky Rice. What a wonderful discovery! The flavor of the broth is so powerful and complex, while the tenderness of the egg noodles is fantastic. They serve their Kow Soi with chicken, and is somewhat less expensive than TAC (around $5 I think).
    ~ The username is a long story
  • Post #11 - May 3rd, 2005, 1:33 pm
    Post #11 - May 3rd, 2005, 1:33 pm Post #11 - May 3rd, 2005, 1:33 pm
    G Wiv wrote: Fortunately, both company and order wise, we ran into Kman at which point our friendly, efficient and, if I may say so, quite attractive, waitress seemed relieved.



    It's great to know that I can still have that effect on pretty women. :)

    Seriously, though . . . what a great day I had yesterday. Taking an impromptu day-off I took care of some errands and thought "Today's the day I finally make it over to try out TAC Quick." Things were going well when I found a parking spot right outside the front door. Things were going even better when I walked in to see that Gary and Mike had just finished ordering for 8. After inviting me to join them we ordered for 4 more. :)

    As a TAC noob I was the beneficiary of not only the enjoyable company but the knowledge of the menu and the dedication to trying as many of the menu items as possible. Seeing the great pictures reminds me of just how good everything there was and makes me want to swing by on the way home and pick up dinner . . . but they are closed on Tuesdays. :( (Maybe sushi instead :wink: )

    The pork neck, the sausage, and the boar were especially good (hmm, I think maybe I've got a thing for pork). I was disappointed the Roti was unavailable but it's good to know that the reason was that they are selling so much - nice to see good things happen to good restaurants.
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #12 - May 3rd, 2005, 1:45 pm
    Post #12 - May 3rd, 2005, 1:45 pm Post #12 - May 3rd, 2005, 1:45 pm
    Kman wrote:Seeing the great pictures reminds me of just how good everything there was and makes me want to swing by on the way home and pick up dinner . . . but they are closed on Tuesdays. :(


    Good thing I wondered into this thread, I was planning on making my debut trip to TAC tonight. This is the forth time that a planned trip there been postponed...maybe later this week :cry:
  • Post #13 - May 3rd, 2005, 5:47 pm
    Post #13 - May 3rd, 2005, 5:47 pm Post #13 - May 3rd, 2005, 5:47 pm
    was there Sunday nite. had the Pork Neck + kao soy for our weekly TAC dinner.

    really could've passed on the kao soy. too greasy as a noodle dish for me. too light as a curry to go with rice. my stomach was confused. perhaps should've orderd the kuay tiaw gai instead?

    the pork neck was excellent, as was the jerk beef. i'm no longer allowed to order neua naam tok & kung chae naam plaa as they're simply too 'spicy' for the dinner companion :(
  • Post #14 - May 6th, 2005, 11:54 am
    Post #14 - May 6th, 2005, 11:54 am Post #14 - May 6th, 2005, 11:54 am
    Mike G wrote:Can't someone stir this pot with a total slam of TAC?


    Sorry to let you down, but I went last night for the first time and really loved it.

    Had the Pork Neck, Karee beef w/roti and sticky rice with mango. I probably can't say much about the food that hasn't already been said here before, but I will say that it is one of the best meals I have had in Chicago.

    On top of that, the bill came to under $20...I will be back, quite possibly on a weekly basis. I look forward to eating my way through the thai menu, although it will be a daunting task. It was hard enough choosing three items from the specials board! But I will give it my best shot...
  • Post #15 - May 20th, 2005, 7:16 am
    Post #15 - May 20th, 2005, 7:16 am Post #15 - May 20th, 2005, 7:16 am
    LTH,

    Finally got to try Karee Beef w/Roti yesterday at TAC. Well worth the effort to make an item specific visit. Thanks Erik.

    While service is typically quite good at TAC, yesterday there was a new, at least to me, waiter with whom I had a very humorous exchange. I was there early, about 11:30, and they were doing a land-office business in take out and phone orders, the waiter was busy as a one-armed-paper hanger.

    My table was sticky, sticky as in tacky, not wet sticky, my newspaper actually stuck to the table. When I pointed this out to the waiter he said "I know, but it's clean" and walked away.

    He was absolutely correct, the table was perfectly clean, but, for some reason, his comment and abrupt departure stuck me as really funny. Though not as funny as the waiter at Cafe Absinthe who responded "Ocean Fish" when asked the fish of the day.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #16 - May 20th, 2005, 10:46 am
    Post #16 - May 20th, 2005, 10:46 am Post #16 - May 20th, 2005, 10:46 am
    G Wiv wrote:My table was sticky, sticky as in tacky, not wet sticky, my newspaper actually stuck to the table. When I pointed this out to the waiter he said "I know, but it's clean" and walked away.


    Being on vacation, I am not particularly interested in posting but I can't let this one go by.

    There is a regular female patron that comes in and does a pile of scratch-off lotto tickets as she waits for her order. The scratchings leave a gummy residue on the the tabletops which is very difficult to remove.

    E.M.

    p.s. Today will be my 8th consecutive visit to LA's Thai Town. It is with a great amount of confidence that I now say that it kicks Chicago's scene into a stinky wet ditch. The restaurant reviewers [J. Gold et al.] and LA Board Chowhounds have no idea what they are sitting on.
  • Post #17 - May 22nd, 2005, 9:32 am
    Post #17 - May 22nd, 2005, 9:32 am Post #17 - May 22nd, 2005, 9:32 am
    I've been making Kao Soi at home for years, ever since an article on it appeared in Saveur April 1997. It's titled, Looking for Kao Soi, calling it "one of asia's best dishes" and " almost as addictive as the opium that is still grown in the surrounding mountains" .
    I can't wait to try an authentic version of it at TAC. Hope it's on the menu today.
    I'd be glad to send on a copy of the article for anyone interested.

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