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Rainbow Cuisine Thai - A new contender

Rainbow Cuisine Thai - A new contender
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  • Post #331 - June 18th, 2023, 3:26 pm
    Post #331 - June 18th, 2023, 3:26 pm Post #331 - June 18th, 2023, 3:26 pm
    I haven't enjoyed the ho mok nearly as much since they switched to the pie tin presentation a few years ago.
  • Post #332 - June 18th, 2023, 3:31 pm
    Post #332 - June 18th, 2023, 3:31 pm Post #332 - June 18th, 2023, 3:31 pm
    Because of flavor or presentation?
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #333 - June 18th, 2023, 5:31 pm
    Post #333 - June 18th, 2023, 5:31 pm Post #333 - June 18th, 2023, 5:31 pm
    As I recall, it used to be steamed in a banana leaf, and was superior in terms of flavor and texture.

    That being said, I complain about a lot of things. I've been accused of being a curmudgeon as of late.
  • Post #334 - June 20th, 2023, 6:27 pm
    Post #334 - June 20th, 2023, 6:27 pm Post #334 - June 20th, 2023, 6:27 pm
    Call before you go. Website says they're open on Tuesday. Sign on the door says they're open on Tuesday. They were not, in fact, open on Tuesday. At least not tonight. No idea if that's one-time thing or not.
  • Post #335 - July 16th, 2023, 8:24 pm
    Post #335 - July 16th, 2023, 8:24 pm Post #335 - July 16th, 2023, 8:24 pm
    only diners for our entire visit sunday evening - in fact didn't even see anyone come in for a pickup. we ordered from the presented/standard menu - everything was good to great, but not a level above any of the other thai places in the area.

    gelato next door, great 1-2 punch.
  • Post #336 - July 18th, 2023, 11:54 am
    Post #336 - July 18th, 2023, 11:54 am Post #336 - July 18th, 2023, 11:54 am
    Each time I see this thread at the top of the list, I fear it is someone making a post that they have finally given up and closed down.
  • Post #337 - July 18th, 2023, 12:07 pm
    Post #337 - July 18th, 2023, 12:07 pm Post #337 - July 18th, 2023, 12:07 pm
    Chicago Hokie wrote:Each time I see this thread at the top of the list, I fear it is someone making a post that they have finally given up and closed down.


    support is needed. they are perfect examples of what lth is about. if you and other lth'rs haven't been there recently, going will help them survive.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #338 - November 3rd, 2023, 9:00 am
    Post #338 - November 3rd, 2023, 9:00 am Post #338 - November 3rd, 2023, 9:00 am
    Last night as I was picking up my standard takeout Rainbow order, the owner told me that this Sunday, Nov 5, he will close the restaurant for the rest of the year so he can visit his mother in Thailand. He also said he has already paid the rent for the next two months, that he is bringing in a "partner" for the new year who will relieve some of the burden the two of them have been bearing. I don't know if that is just extra hands in the kitchen, or if it's a financial support as well.
    LTH introduced me to Rainbow 10 years ago, and I have been a grateful diner there ever since. I have been ordering takeout from them every 4 weeks or so since COVID started, and have savored every bite. I hope this inflection point will lead to a brighter future for them. He said that he hasn't made any profit in the 18 months, so obviously something has to give
    We crack us up.
  • Post #339 - November 3rd, 2023, 11:28 am
    Post #339 - November 3rd, 2023, 11:28 am Post #339 - November 3rd, 2023, 11:28 am
    A little additional info—the partners are a friend of Wanpen’s and another man that the friend knows (not sure if there’s a family or other relationship between them).

    Putting in a big “fill the takeout freezer” order to pick up tomorrow.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #340 - November 3rd, 2023, 1:16 pm
    Post #340 - November 3rd, 2023, 1:16 pm Post #340 - November 3rd, 2023, 1:16 pm
    So glad they're still open & taking some time for themselves.

    We drove by a few times in the last couple of weeks and they looked to be closed, so this comes as good news!
  • Post #341 - November 3rd, 2023, 2:26 pm
    Post #341 - November 3rd, 2023, 2:26 pm Post #341 - November 3rd, 2023, 2:26 pm
    Snax wrote:the owner told me that this Sunday, Nov 5, he will close the restaurant for the rest of the year so he can visit his mother in Thailand

    LTH introduced me to Rainbow 10 years ago, and I have been a grateful diner there ever since. I have been ordering takeout from them every 4 weeks or so since COVID started, and have savored every bite. I hope this inflection point will lead to a brighter future for them.

    Thank you for this information; we'll be ordering tonight!

    Ditto to your other thoughts. It's been our 14yo son's favorite restaurant since he was around 7 or 8 (even asking for birthday dinners there). We've also converted many friends and neighbors into Rainbow regulars. On rare occasions when we order delivery, Pramote always brings small bonus items and he stops to chat on the porch for a few minutes. And since their dropoff in dine-in customers it's become the best place in the neighborhood for impromptu group meals -- in addition to being a consistent crowd-pleaser I can't think of anywhere else in Lincoln Square where you can walk in (though we usually call to check if they can accommodate us) and immediately get a table for 8 or 10 people... it's like our private dining room.

    Obviously there's a bittersweet note to the implications of a treasured family institution being consistently empty, but it may be the only restaurant in the world where I see a large bill to pay and feel grateful for every dollar I'm privileged to give them. I can't think of any other place in the world I'd be more devastated to lose.

    I'm hopeful that this partner can help them -- honestly, injecting some modest funding for marketing/PR would be a huge help. The signage/curb appeal is lacking, and while everything there is good, years of evangelizing its virtues have made it abundantly clear that the average non-LTHer has no idea what treasures lie beneath the more familiar (Pad Thai, Pad Siew, Pad Kee Mao) standards -- and how amenable those delights can be to even non-adventurous palates. There's so much potential for them to experience the success they deserve!
  • Post #342 - November 3rd, 2023, 2:50 pm
    Post #342 - November 3rd, 2023, 2:50 pm Post #342 - November 3rd, 2023, 2:50 pm
    PeteF wrote:
    Snax wrote:the owner told me that this Sunday, Nov 5, he will close the restaurant for the rest of the year so he can visit his mother in Thailand

    LTH introduced me to Rainbow 10 years ago, and I have been a grateful diner there ever since. I have been ordering takeout from them every 4 weeks or so since COVID started, and have savored every bite. I hope this inflection point will lead to a brighter future for them.

    Thank you for this information; we'll be ordering tonight!

    Ditto to your other thoughts. It's been our 14yo son's favorite restaurant since he was around 7 or 8 (even asking for birthday dinners there). We've also converted many friends and neighbors into Rainbow regulars. On rare occasions when we order delivery, Pramote always brings small bonus items and he stops to chat on the porch for a few minutes. And since their dropoff in dine-in customers it's become the best place in the neighborhood for impromptu group meals -- in addition to being a consistent crowd-pleaser I can't think of anywhere else in Lincoln Square where you can walk in (though we usually call to check if they can accommodate us) and immediately get a table for 8 or 10 people... it's like our private dining room.

    Obviously there's a bittersweet note to the implications of a treasured family institution being consistently empty, but it may be the only restaurant in the world where I see a large bill to pay and feel grateful for every dollar I'm privileged to give them. I can't think of any other place in the world I'd be more devastated to lose.

    I'm hopeful that this partner can help them -- honestly, injecting some modest funding for marketing/PR would be a huge help. The signage/curb appeal is lacking, and while everything there is good, years of evangelizing its virtues have made it abundantly clear that the average non-LTHer has no idea what treasures lie beneath the more familiar (Pad Thai, Pad Siew, Pad Kee Mao) standards -- and how amenable those delights can be to even non-adventurous palates. There's so much potential for them to experience the success they deserve!


    I noticed today when I looked at the online menu that many of the best dishes weren’t there. Not sure if that’s just for delivery or if the on site menu has also been pared down. I texted him my order and included all my usuals even if they weren’t on the menu and he didn’t say that they couldn’t do anything so if anyone wants something that’s not there (like the best Nam Khao Tod in the city!!!) I’d suggest calling or stopping in.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #343 - November 3rd, 2023, 5:26 pm
    Post #343 - November 3rd, 2023, 5:26 pm Post #343 - November 3rd, 2023, 5:26 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:I noticed today when I looked at the online menu that many of the best dishes weren’t there. Not sure if that’s just for delivery or if the on site menu has also been pared down. I texted him my order and included all my usuals even if they weren’t on the menu and he didn’t say that they couldn’t do anything so if anyone wants something that’s not there (like the best Nam Khao Tod in the city!!!) I’d suggest calling or stopping in.

    I can confirm that all/most of the classics are still on the dine-in menu; on our last visit we got all of the old standbys without requiring any special requests. I think some dishes (Nam Khao Tod, etc.) are just more time intensive and throw off timing on delivery orders. There's never been any hint of hesitation from Pramote when calling to order anything we desired.

    The one old dish I feel like maybe has been missing for dine-in is Kao Kluk Ka Pi, but I might have just overlooked it. There could be others as well? But plenty still available to satisfy the longtime regulars.
  • Post #344 - November 3rd, 2023, 8:05 pm
    Post #344 - November 3rd, 2023, 8:05 pm Post #344 - November 3rd, 2023, 8:05 pm
    Some updates from our take-out experience tonight:
    1. They were slammed (both Pramote and Wanpen were cooking while their son ran the counter and phones -- it took me 5 tries to get through).
    2. Their son told us that they're re-opening on January 18th under new ownership. He said his dad is retiring and his mom will remain the chef though Pramote will still "be around." He's just worn down. There will be others brought in to run things day-to-day.
    3. Everything was just fabulous, although the ground chicken basil was a little wetter and slightly less flavorful than normal (that was counterbalanced by a perfectly cooked egg; normally the yolk is hard-cooked by the time it gets to me).
    4. And on this note...
    PeteF wrote:There's never been any hint of hesitation from Pramote when calling to order anything we desired.

    When placing my phone order with their son, I asked for Chinese broccoli with crispy pork and was told "they can't make that because they're leaving on Sunday" (I inferred that they hadn't stocked enough of those ingredients so that they wouldn't go to waste). Then 3 minutes later he called back and said "my dad heard your order and he wants to make that dish for you if you still want it." And it was the best it's ever been. I just love that place and am cautiously optimistic about their prospects in 2024!
  • Post #345 - November 3rd, 2023, 8:46 pm
    Post #345 - November 3rd, 2023, 8:46 pm Post #345 - November 3rd, 2023, 8:46 pm
    Mote just left. Read the news (oh boy) and got our last order in. His mother is aging and he "wants some time w/her besides @ her funeral".

    From the crunch of nam khao tod to the silky hor mok it scratched the itch and left us smiling. The goyza and basil chicken were excellent as well.

    All in all, a beautiful meal from a beautiful couple that to me embody LTH.
    Image
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #346 - November 4th, 2023, 10:51 am
    Post #346 - November 4th, 2023, 10:51 am Post #346 - November 4th, 2023, 10:51 am
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    I noticed today when I looked at the online menu that many of the best dishes weren’t there. Not sure if that’s just for delivery or if the on site menu has also been pared down. I texted him my order and included all my usuals even if they weren’t on the menu and he didn’t say that they couldn’t do anything so if anyone wants something that’s not there (like the best Nam Khao Tod in the city!!!) I’d suggest calling or stopping in.


    They intentionally keep the “good” lesser-known dishes off of the online ordering menu, so regulars call instead. This saves them the online fees, which I’m happy to oblige. Yet, they still want the random customer order who just wants pad Thai or similar, and doesn’t care which restaurant it comes from.
  • Post #347 - November 4th, 2023, 11:00 am
    Post #347 - November 4th, 2023, 11:00 am Post #347 - November 4th, 2023, 11:00 am
    Chicago Hokie wrote:
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    I noticed today when I looked at the online menu that many of the best dishes weren’t there. Not sure if that’s just for delivery or if the on site menu has also been pared down. I texted him my order and included all my usuals even if they weren’t on the menu and he didn’t say that they couldn’t do anything so if anyone wants something that’s not there (like the best Nam Khao Tod in the city!!!) I’d suggest calling or stopping in.


    They intentionally keep the “good” lesser-known dishes off of the online ordering menu, so regulars call instead. This saves them the online fees, which I’m happy to oblige. Yet, they still want the random customer order who just wants pad Thai or similar, and doesn’t care which restaurant it comes from.


    Yeah—they’ve always done that but I think they’ve still taken a ton of things off that used to be there—even the numbers are messed up :) But I'm sure that is the reason.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #348 - November 4th, 2023, 11:03 am
    Post #348 - November 4th, 2023, 11:03 am Post #348 - November 4th, 2023, 11:03 am
    Chicago Hokie wrote:They intentionally keep the “good” lesser-known dishes off of the online ordering menu, so regulars call instead. This saves them the online fees, which I’m happy to oblige. Yet, they still want the random customer order who just wants pad Thai or similar, and doesn’t care which restaurant it comes from.

    Given their struggles, I can't help but wonder if it'd be a good idea to offer the lesser-known dishes online to help distinguish themselves from other places. They've probably already done that but I'd just hate to think they're catalyzing a self-fulfilling prophecy with this practice.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #349 - December 6th, 2023, 11:38 am
    Post #349 - December 6th, 2023, 11:38 am Post #349 - December 6th, 2023, 11:38 am
    Sign on door, "Close for vacation."
    "And if you don't know, now you know." -BIG
  • Post #350 - December 6th, 2023, 11:55 am
    Post #350 - December 6th, 2023, 11:55 am Post #350 - December 6th, 2023, 11:55 am
    mkess wrote:Sign on door, "Close for vacation."


    This was discussed upthread—they are closed through mid-January to return to Thailand to see family. When they return, there will be two new partners to relieve Pramote from having to spend all of his time at the restaurant because there was no money to pay additional staff. Wanpen will still be cooking so menu items should remain available as they are now.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #351 - January 19th, 2024, 3:01 pm
    Post #351 - January 19th, 2024, 3:01 pm Post #351 - January 19th, 2024, 3:01 pm
    Well, it's mid-January and I saw someone shoveling in front of Rainbow last week, so today I checked online and it appears they have re-opened. Anyone have any intel? I'm not sure if it'll be business as usual or if anything has been tweaked on the menu, etc.
  • Post #352 - January 19th, 2024, 3:05 pm
    Post #352 - January 19th, 2024, 3:05 pm Post #352 - January 19th, 2024, 3:05 pm
    PeteF wrote:Well, it's mid-January and I saw someone shoveling in front of Rainbow last week, so today I checked online and it appears they have re-opened. Anyone have any intel? I'm not sure if it'll be business as usual or if anything has been tweaked on the menu, etc.


    They’re back from their trip to Thailand so assuming Wanpen is back in the kitchen. Not sure what else may be different.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #353 - January 28th, 2024, 10:01 am
    Post #353 - January 28th, 2024, 10:01 am Post #353 - January 28th, 2024, 10:01 am
    Went to dine in at Rainbow last night. Four of us, three appetizers and five entrees, everything was great and the two people we brought who had never been there before were extremely impressed by the food and the price (all in pre-tip was I believe $99).

    We order from here a good bit for delivery so when we think about places to eat out, this isn't always at the top of our list, but I have to say that every once a while going and eating in is an added treat. We were the only folks in the dining room the entire time we were there (delivery and carryout was happening). Being able to have the food piping hot from the kitchen in a BYOB environment is really enjoyable as is increasing ordering power with a larger group.
  • Post #354 - March 9th, 2024, 11:28 pm
    Post #354 - March 9th, 2024, 11:28 pm Post #354 - March 9th, 2024, 11:28 pm
    ALERT. The Rainbow that we know and love(d) appears to be no more.

    My son and I went to dine in today; the dining room has been nicely refreshed after the change in ownership. While the menu looked basically the same, when our fried chicken (gai tod) appetizer came out we immediately noticed it was prepared differently (with some wings in the mix, and a totally new dipping sauce). This led to confirmation from the new host/server that Wanpen is no longer in the kitchen. Her English wasn't the easiest to understand but it sounded like the new chef came from a hotel (maybe in Thailand?). I didn't learn what happened to Wanpen.

    We'd already ordered our main courses by then, and both were served on handsome new fish-shaped plates. My Nam Khao Tod differed quite a bit from Wanpen's -- less rice-centric, heavily salted with a ton of overpowering onion and lime, and whole Thai chiles for garnish. Served on a large lettuce leaf, it felt closer to the "salad" it's categorized as. I didn't hate it (and it was still better than some other versions I've tried) but after so many experiences with the Rainbow original it just didn't cut it for me.

    My son's Pad Siew w/chicken looked lovely plated on a banana leaf, and was a fairly decent version. However, the portion was much smaller than before, and it was very vegetable-forward with lots of broccoli and big finger-sized crinkle-cut carrots. Neither of those qualities endeared the dish to him (sadly, as Wanpen's Pad Siew was one of his life's joys) but the flavor and preparation were good, and I could see others enjoying it.

    Were we served bad food? No. But I'm still processing what happened tonight...being at Rainbow without Rainbow food. I'm sad, a bit confounded, and unsure whether I want to go back to sample more of the old standbys, just call it and never return, or try and learn to appreciate what might be a new above-average Thai joint in the neighborhood.

    Most of all, I want to know what happened to Wanpen. Is she back in Thailand, or are we going to see her food coming out of another nearby kitchen? If anyone has any intel, please share!
  • Post #355 - March 10th, 2024, 3:22 pm
    Post #355 - March 10th, 2024, 3:22 pm Post #355 - March 10th, 2024, 3:22 pm
    I'll be very sad if Wanpen is no longer there, but I have to say the last who knows how many times I've gotten the nam khao tod here, it had zero lime and chiles (leftovers, properly dressed at home, were for once better than the original). So what you describe actually sounds like an improvement to me.
  • Post #356 - March 11th, 2024, 9:39 am
    Post #356 - March 11th, 2024, 9:39 am Post #356 - March 11th, 2024, 9:39 am
    I've only ordered once since Rainbow reopened in January. The dishes we had were a little different but good. The larb gai tasted more of toasted rice powder than previous versions, which I really enjoyed. The Thai jerky was less well done, more chewy and the sauce was different and, in my opinion, better. The ground chicken basil was similar, maybe a bit more spice but that has always varied order-to-order. All in all, it was clear there was a new cook but I was very happy with the food.

    I need to try more of the menu. I'll be very sad if the nam khao tod isn't to my taste as Wanpen's is one of my favorite takeout orders of all time.

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