Bodhi, Berwyn and It’s Surprises

Bodhi

My restaurant advisor had been prompting me about a Thai restaurant in Berwyn, Illinois. Recognizing how much I love curry and a proper thick curry, she gave the name of Bodhi Thai Bistro at 6211 W. Roosevelt Road. In true fashion, this restaurant falls into the category of Most Modest because for what we had eaten to have been so blooming mouth-watering, they do not employ any grandstanding. The deserve it, though.

Thai Iced Tea, Thai Iced Coffee

Thai Iced Tea, Thai Iced Coffee

We went in the early evening one Saturday per our usual routine of trying to get ahead of the dinner crowd. We arrived at the very start of dinner rush, so we got to see a rather energetic restaurant. Starting off with a Thai iced tea and Thai Iced coffee while scanning the menu, we settled on a few known dishes we order at Thai restaurants, one known dish we’ve avoided, and a few we’ve never had before.

One dish we never ordered was the sweet potato and corn fritters. This was a plate of shredded sweet potatoes fried with corn and served with a savoury sauce topped with crushed peanuts. Light on the palate but packed with flavour, this was a perfect introduction into dinner, since we had opted for several dishes.

Sweet Potato and Corn Fritters

Sweet Potato and Corn Fritters

Another dish that we had not ordered at any Thai restaurants before was the marinated squid. Served as a nice portion, the squid had been marinated such that there was a mild smoky flavour that played well with the salad and dipping sauce. The beauty of this dish was that the squid had been cooked so that the morsels were tender with no rubbery texture.

Grilled Calamari

Marinated Squid

Moving into a dish that we’ve had at other Thai restaurants, we ordered tom yum goong. This Thai favourite came with a broth that was not sweet the way we have had it at some Thai restaurants. Because of this, we actually were able to taste distinct ingredients like lemongrass and ginger while also being able to taste the pop in the carrots and mushrooms. Highlighted with sprinkles of cilantro, there was only so much spooning we could do before we picked up our bowls and slurped properly.

Tom Yum Goong

Tom Yum Goong

A dish that is popular in Thai cuisine, but we’ve avoided because it is so commonplace, is pad thai. This dish tasted very much like what I’ve had on mainland Thailand. Instead of unseasoned boiled chicken in the dish, the chicken had been marinated. The sauce used in the recipe was a fish sauce, not just soy sauce thrown in for effect. The noodles were perfect, neither al dente nor mushy. It may have been serendipity that we had held out on ever ordering pad thai until we came to Bodhi Thai Bistro because they prepare the best.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Another dish that we had never tried before was garlic prawns. These tasty morsels came atop green bell peppers and carrots with a dipping sauce that we used as a drizzle and a side of a rice. While the prawns had been prepared with a heavy dose of garlic, it was not overpowering such that we could not recognize that the prawns were fresh. Fresh shellfish has a pop in flavour and when the recipe allows the prawns to still have centre stage, this becomes a dish that we will order repeatedly upon return visits.

Garlic Prawns and Vegetables

Garlic Prawns

The final dish was a return to another Thai favourite, but also to one that is a favourite to us. We ordered panang curry with chicken and this was at my restaurant advisor’s suggestion. Being sticklers for hearty panang gravies, this was  certainly a lip smacking course. The dish came with sliced carrots, fresh green beans, and bell peppers. Fresh ingredients in a splendid panang gravy is something that you cannot pass up on.

We finished dinner with a plate of mango sticky rice and green tea — photo not pictured. The mango was naturally sweet. The sticky rice was warm and the coconut milk that had been poured on top made the dessert a must-have.

Chicken Panang Curry

Chicken Panang Curry

Bodhi Thai Bistro has a pleasant air about it, as far as decor is concerned. What they do incredibly well is wow the appetite without pretense and without fanfare. Truly the dishes are authentic and those who love Thai food will agree. Top service, outstanding cuisine, and Berwyn has been modest. They have bragging rights with such inviting food.

Bodhi Thai Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tac Quick, Slow, and Delicious Thai

Tac Quick

It was Saturday morning and I had an appetite for some Thai and French fusion. There is no doubt the question floating about now as to where one may find such cuisine. I had blogged about a French restaurant in Lakeview named Crepe Town. They prepare some of the most scrumptious crepes in America and to take the addiction to them up a few notches, they have a Thai influence in the recipe. As my luck would have it, there must be a lot of people in Chicago who love Crepe Town because the restaurant was filled when I arrived. And being in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to have some options in the nearby area. Across the street was Tac Quick at 3930 N. Sheridan Road. I was aware that I would not have any French, but there was indeed Thai for me enjoy.

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

Beef Basil Rolls

Beef Basil Rolls

Full of light and vibrant with colours on the inside, Tac Quick looks nondescript when viewing it from the street. It’s once you get inside and the aroma of spices start to waft around you that you realize you are about to have one of many experiences. I began my first experience with beef basil rolls and a Thai iced tea. As to the rolls, think egg rolls, but stuffed with basil beef and vegetables. If you have ever had basil chicken or basil beef, think the dish stuffed into mini, crispy rolls. With a mildly sweet sauce for dipping, there simply were not enough, for these rolls were divine. And although the Brit in me loves Earl Grey tea, it does not compare to a tall glass of Thai iced tea.

Panang Gari Gai

Panang Gari Gai

Banana and Sticky Rice

Banana and Sticky Rice

I have a leaning more towards Thai curry dishes than I do other dishes. My favourite is panang curry. If I don’t have anything else at Thai restaurants, panang curry will be the only dish I will hanker for most. The panang curry at Tac Quick now ranks up there with my favourite. Instead of a thin sauce, it’s a thick gravy. Chicken, bell peppers, and basil in a panang curry is my passport to culinary heaven. Leaving a little room for dessert, I ordered a banana and sticky rice. Let me start by saying that I initially went to Tac Quick with no high expectations. After the first taste of the banana and sticky rice, they have set the bar high for what I expect from other Thai restaurants. Ripe banana over Thai sticky rice, topped with crushed peanuts, and accessorized with cashews, this is now my favourite Thai dessert. That also says a lot because I do not like the taste of dry peanuts.

Tac Quick is a quaint Thai eatery just a few steps away from the Sheridan Road Red Line stop. That section of Lakeview has a lot of charm with boutique restaurants and coffeehouses. I rank the service on the high end of customer satisfaction. Then again, the conversational Thai that I speak may have also made the service appear that more enjoyable. What I will say is that the dishes come with authenticity that makes a lot of Thai restaurants pale in comparison. There are countless Thai restaurants in Chicago that I have not journaled on Chicago Alphabet Soup because the flavouring is sub par to frozen food. But Tac Quick is absolutely reflective of Thai food prepared correctly, and that also means it does not come quick.

TAC Quick Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The More Things Change

A Plate on Southport

Thai Iced TeaLately as I have been reading past posts that I have scribed, I have noticed that quite a few of the restaurants that I had gone to several years ago have since closed their doors to business. It is not that I expect all restaurants and cafes to stay open in perpetuity. But for those where the experiences were worth more than their weight in gold, seeing that they are no longer catering great service and outstanding food to a customer base can become a bit disheartening. And it is even more of a downer when you realize that for some, there had been friendships established. You always want to see your friends thrive in their endeavours.

One such case was Barberry Thai on Southport Avenue. I know the owner, having built a friendship prior to him opening the restaurant. I learned how to speak conversational Thai from him when we were not discussing politics, cultural memes, and economics. When he had mentioned that he was closing the doors, there was that empty feeling like losing something or someone dear to you. It was not just that the food was top, but that it was a friend who was involved. And recently, my flatmate had mentioned a restaurant called A Plate on Southport at 2819 N. Southport Avenue. When I got off the bus and walked the short distance to the restaurant, it occurred to me that I had been there before. There was a brief bittersweet moment, as I was standing in front of what used to be Barberry Thai. I was not having a deja vu moment. On first entry, there was still the exact familiar welcome that I always received when my friend was the owner. This time, only the faces had changed.

Tom Yum Koong
Still set up like a loft, there were the same seating arrangements on the upper level and lounge music playing in the background. I sat at one of the tables overlooking the ground floor from the loft balcony. Setting aside any pre-judgement about how I thought the dining experience would turn out, I ordered a tom yum koong for a start. With the weather vacillating between mild and chilly, I had a bit of sinus congestion. Nothing like a tasty non-medicinal remedy to clear the nasal passages and a spicy tom yum soup will certainly assist. Heat rising from my scalp and my nose starting to run, the soup was working its magic. Fat shrimp in a peppery broth was exactly what I needed and I slurped it to completion and to satisfaction.

Panang Curry ChickenThen came the panang curry gai. I have said several times before that I prefer my panang and my curries to be hearty, not of a thin base. The panang curry at A Plate on Southport is thin. However, it was so full of flavour that I opted to simply thicken it by adding the side dish of rice to it. That did the trick and it may be that I had also requested the panang curry to be extra spicy that it indeed pleased my palate more than it would have if I had ordered the dish with mild flavouring. Washing it all down with a tall glass of Thai iced tea — which by the way, would put Southern sweet tea to shame — I was rather gleeful after all was done. There really is no other word to describe my sentiments.

Honestly, I had gone to the restaurant a bit bent on not enjoying the visit. It turned out to be dynamic — if I can describe it that way. The same atmosphere that I remembered had apparently remained, friendly ghosts that were at peace and were more apt to make customers feel welcomed. Clearly the management is doing something correct, as the food and service were both indicative of such. The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the saying goes. I still keep in constant contact with my friend who had lured me to 2819 N. Southport Avenue for some of the finest Thai cuisine several years ago. Now the new establishment will pull me back again and again. A friend didn’t go away when Barberry closed its doors. That relationship still remained intact. But as of 4 November 2012, I gained a new friendship. Hello, A Plate on Southport.

A Plate on Southport on Urbanspoon