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Early Thai food in Chicago?

Early Thai food in Chicago?
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  • Early Thai food in Chicago?

    Post #1 - December 12th, 2005, 11:33 am
    Post #1 - December 12th, 2005, 11:33 am Post #1 - December 12th, 2005, 11:33 am
    This would be a question for the, um, more experienced [read: at least middle aged] of us here. My earliest knowledge of Thai food in Chicago is the Thai Room being 4100-ish north on Western Ave. I went there for the first time in 1979, and it was love at first bite. I used to drive up with the bf of that era [hmmm, come to think of it, the same one I went to Nida Lithuanian Restaurant with... guess he wasn't all bad] as often as we had the time & money, and pretty much ate our way thru the whole menu. Neither of us knew of any other Thai restaurants then.

    Any one have any earlier recolections of Thai food here before 1979 or other restaurants that early?

    Giovanna
    =o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=

    "Enjoy every sandwich."

    -Warren Zevon
  • Post #2 - December 12th, 2005, 12:04 pm
    Post #2 - December 12th, 2005, 12:04 pm Post #2 - December 12th, 2005, 12:04 pm
    Great question, unfortunately I can't be of any help...I got here in 1989. However, I would like to add that ReneG and I were having a somewhat similar discussion after Antonius' paper presentation and having walked past Tiparo's on Clark.

    I said that Tiparo's, while certainly not unique at the time seemed good as I was living nearby, but at that time I didn't know Gai Tod from Moo Ping.

    My first time at a Thai restaurant was Thai Star Cafe (Hubbard and State?) c. 1989. It was also when I learned about BYOB restaurants. ReneG said he used to go to Rosed, I used to go there as well...being just around the corner from Martin's Big & Tall. I went back to Thai Star Cafe a few years ago...it certainly did not hold up.
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  • Post #3 - December 12th, 2005, 12:13 pm
    Post #3 - December 12th, 2005, 12:13 pm Post #3 - December 12th, 2005, 12:13 pm
    I remember my first Thai food ... it was 1976 or 1977, at a little place on Western, a little north of Lawrence (maybe at Winnemac?) I think it was called Thai Village or something like that. There have been a number of Middle Eastern places in that space recently. By today's standards, I'm sure it was unremarkable Thai food at best, but it opened up a whole new world of flavors for me.
  • Post #4 - December 12th, 2005, 12:36 pm
    Post #4 - December 12th, 2005, 12:36 pm Post #4 - December 12th, 2005, 12:36 pm
    My first Thai food was at Thai Little Home Cafe in circa 1977. They were in a different spot but the same general area they are in now. At the time I thought it was exotic and delicious. A subsequent return visit a couple of years ago yeilded run of the mill Ameri-tahi food. Still, at the time, it was quite good and delicious. It helped inspire me to delve deeper into Thai cuisine.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #5 - December 12th, 2005, 12:55 pm
    Post #5 - December 12th, 2005, 12:55 pm Post #5 - December 12th, 2005, 12:55 pm
    stevez wrote:My first Thai food was at Thai Little Home Cafe in circa 1977. They were in a different spot but the same general area they are in now. At the time I thought it was exotic and delicious. A subsequent return visit a couple of years ago yeilded run of the mill Ameri-tahi food. Still, at the time, it was quite good and delicious. It helped inspire me to delve deeper into Thai cuisine.


    I really don't remember Thai Little Home Cafe being open that early on. I think it had just opened the year before when I moved to Albany Park in 1981. They were on Lawrence, not Kedzie, a block or so east of Kedzie. But I could swear that the Thai Room was the first and only for a while. Well, maybe not. If I was that sure why did I ask?

    Your memories of TLHC being better in the early years is entirely correct. Somewhere in the late '80s they decided that they could make tired, sweet, blander food and do just as well. Is it just me, or doing a buffet the kiss of death for a lot of restaurants?

    Giovanna[/i]
    =o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=

    "Enjoy every sandwich."

    -Warren Zevon
  • Post #6 - December 12th, 2005, 1:03 pm
    Post #6 - December 12th, 2005, 1:03 pm Post #6 - December 12th, 2005, 1:03 pm
    nr706 wrote:I remember my first Thai food ... it was 1976 or 1977, at a little place on Western, a little north of Lawrence (maybe at Winnemac?) I think it was called Thai Village or something like that. There have been a number of Middle Eastern places in that space recently. By today's standards, I'm sure it was unremarkable Thai food at best, but it opened up a whole new world of flavors for me.


    I believe the place was called Thai Villa, and the then Proto-Wife and I used to go there all the time. I remember the revelation (circa 76-77) of having coconut milk, chicken and vermicelli in a single dish.

    As you said, it may in retrospect have been pedestrian, but it was a revelation at the time.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #7 - December 12th, 2005, 1:18 pm
    Post #7 - December 12th, 2005, 1:18 pm Post #7 - December 12th, 2005, 1:18 pm
    nr706 wrote:it was 1976 or 1977, at a little place on Western, a little north of Lawrence (maybe at Winnemac?)


    Getting just a bit off topic the little place at the corner of Western and Winnemac which has long been an incubator/deathtrap for numerous Middle Eastern restaurants has recently cleaned up and gone Italian.
  • Post #8 - December 12th, 2005, 1:41 pm
    Post #8 - December 12th, 2005, 1:41 pm Post #8 - December 12th, 2005, 1:41 pm
    Giovanna wrote:
    stevez wrote:My first Thai food was at Thai Little Home Cafe in circa 1977. They were in a different spot but the same general area they are in now. At the time I thought it was exotic and delicious. A subsequent return visit a couple of years ago yeilded run of the mill Ameri-tahi food. Still, at the time, it was quite good and delicious. It helped inspire me to delve deeper into Thai cuisine.


    I really don't remember Thai Little Home Cafe being open that early on. I think it had just opened the year before when I moved to Albany Park in 1981. They were on Lawrence, not Kedzie, a block or so east of Kedzie. But I could swear that the Thai Room was the first and only for a while. Well, maybe not. If I was that sure why did I ask?

    Your memories of TLHC being better in the early years is entirely correct. Somewhere in the late '80s they decided that they could make tired, sweet, blander food and do just as well. Is it just me, or doing a buffet the kiss of death for a lot of restaurants?

    Giovanna[/i]


    It might have been as late as 1978 -1979, but no later. I remember because I was working on an album project at the time and the "Artist" was an affecianado and took me there on several occasions. It's possible that the Thai Room was open earleir. I was not aware of it, however, and was led to believe that TLHC was the first in town. I certainly wouldn't bet the cost of dinner on it (VI style), though.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - December 12th, 2005, 2:16 pm
    Post #9 - December 12th, 2005, 2:16 pm Post #9 - December 12th, 2005, 2:16 pm
    Siam Cafe was open in the spot that is now the Issan place (blanking on name) on Sheridan south of Lawrence in 1974. It was well-established at that time, but I don't know when it actually opened. I do not recall seeing other Thai restaurants around. Rosded opened sometime around 1976-77 I think.
  • Post #10 - December 12th, 2005, 2:38 pm
    Post #10 - December 12th, 2005, 2:38 pm Post #10 - December 12th, 2005, 2:38 pm
    I have lived in Lincoln Square since 1976 and really can't comment on Thai here (unlike Greek or German) from before then. Rosded was open when I moved here and clearly wasn't brand new then. I first ate at Rosded not long after moving here. It was a favorite of Don Rose back when he wrote about restaurants for the Sun-Times.

    I don't recall precisely when some other Thai restaurants came/went along Western, but there were several north of Lawrence at one time or another in late 70s or early 80s. Name similarities coupled with different restaurants in the same spot at different times don't help my memory. Neither did not seeing any real reason to walk farther or drive when Rosded was fairly close. Thai Little Home was on the east side of Western around Argyle or Winnemac before moving to their first Albany Park location. I am pretty sure it was around by 1977 if not earlier. I don't think that any of the other Thai attempts on that stretch lasted very long.

    Thai Room (4022 North Western) was around pretty early in this time span, but I don't remember if it was there in 1976. They were prone to dead or dying plants in the windows as far back as I can remember. Fairly or unfairly, I regard very poorly maintained plants in highly visible window locations in restaurants as symptomatic of sloppiness that probably is also occuring elsewhere. I have never set foot in the place and, based on comments elsewhere, am unlikely to.
  • Post #11 - December 12th, 2005, 3:11 pm
    Post #11 - December 12th, 2005, 3:11 pm Post #11 - December 12th, 2005, 3:11 pm
    nr706 wrote:I remember my first Thai food ... it was 1976 or 1977, at a little place on Western, a little north of Lawrence (maybe at Winnemac?) I think it was called Thai Village or something like that. There have been a number of Middle Eastern places in that space recently. By today's standards, I'm sure it was unremarkable Thai food at best, but it opened up a whole new world of flavors for me.


    It was at Western and Winnemac, it was called "Thai Villa," and it was owned by my friend's father.

    It was the second Thai restaurant that he opened in Chicago, the first being "Thai Town," at the N.E. corner of Clark and Belmont.

    This same man went on to open a third Thai restaurant in the suburbs.

    At any rate, in the local Thai community, Thai Town is widely acknowledged to have been the first real Thai restaurant in Chicago.*

    E.M.

    * I have no reliable means of validating whether Thai Town was indeed the first.
  • Post #12 - December 12th, 2005, 5:22 pm
    Post #12 - December 12th, 2005, 5:22 pm Post #12 - December 12th, 2005, 5:22 pm
    My memory is notoriously faulty, but it corresponds to most of what has been recollected by others. My first Thai meals were in the '77-'79 period and they were at Rosded and Thai Room, respectively. Rosded seemed exotically seedy, with nameless condiments in sticky unlabelled bottles clustered on each table, somewhat threatening, like encountering disolute youths on a street corner daring you to walk by. Thai room was more James Bond exotic - table linens and everything. New worlds opened, especially when I ordered my first whole snapper at T.R..

    When Thai Town opened at Clark and Belmont I was thrilled because it was no much easier for carless me to get to. It seemed to me that when it opened it was very good but got less good before it closed.

    After that, it seemed the floodgates opened and there was soon a little Thai place on nearly every corner.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #13 - December 12th, 2005, 6:27 pm
    Post #13 - December 12th, 2005, 6:27 pm Post #13 - December 12th, 2005, 6:27 pm
    I'm too young to remember any pre 1979 places :P

    But Bangkok on Halsted, across the street from its current location was my first in 1981.

    Around '83, I started dating a bartender from Berlin Nightclub and practically lived in Thai Town. Erik M., your friends father was one of the nicest guys. So charming and friendly, I was very sad when they closed.
    Authorized time shifting let the genie out of the bottle....
  • Post #14 - December 12th, 2005, 8:31 pm
    Post #14 - December 12th, 2005, 8:31 pm Post #14 - December 12th, 2005, 8:31 pm
    The earliest places I remember eating at were Thai Star Cafe on State around 1980 or 81, and some place on Irving Park just east of Clark about the same time. I know there was more my parents had ventured out to, but I don't believe I was treated to any.

    There was a thai place in Deerbrook Plaza for a few years in the early 80's (Szechuan there after that, long gone now). That may have been the first place in the north burbs.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #15 - December 12th, 2005, 10:15 pm
    Post #15 - December 12th, 2005, 10:15 pm Post #15 - December 12th, 2005, 10:15 pm
    delk wrote:Erik M., your friends father was one of the nicest guys. So charming and friendly, I was very sad when they closed.


    Well, if it is any consolation, he remains so.

    And, Thai Town lives on, if only in the stories that my Thai friends and I are repeatedly subjected to by the owner's son, Jade.

    To hear Jade speak about Thai Town, well, you would think that the Thai food available in Chicago today is shite in comparison. :wink:

    E.M.
  • Post #16 - December 12th, 2005, 10:38 pm
    Post #16 - December 12th, 2005, 10:38 pm Post #16 - December 12th, 2005, 10:38 pm
    Erik,

    Where does Siam Noodle and Rice fit into the timeline? I had the impression from you (and I may be mistaken) it was one of the older Thai restaurants around.

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #17 - December 15th, 2005, 8:12 pm
    Post #17 - December 15th, 2005, 8:12 pm Post #17 - December 15th, 2005, 8:12 pm
    A number of Thai restaurants were operating in Chicago in the early-to-mid 1970s. The first edition of The Good (but cheap) Chicago Restaurant Book by Jill and Ron Rohde (1974) lists four: Bangkok House (2544 W Devon), Bangkok Restaurant (3525 N Halsted), Siam Café (4654 N Sheridan), and Siamese Restaurant (3961 N Ashland). They mention “the host of Thai restaurants which has appeared in the past couple of years” but don’t suggest which may have been first.

    A year earlier, in the second edition of The Chicago GuideBook (1973), Bangkok House is listed along with Thai Restaurant (5143 N Clark) and Shanghai Restaurant (406 S Clark, now La Cocina). The last is particularly interesting because it’s noted you need to request the special Thai menu (they also had a Filipino menu written in Tagalog). So the secret Thai menu in Chicago has a long tradition! For what it’s worth, only Thai Restaurant and Shanghai are listed in the first edition from 1972.

    Going back a few years more, in Jory Graham’s Chicago, An Extraordinary Guide from 1967 there are no Thai restaurants listed but she does mention the Filipino menu at Shanghai. Did she not know about the Thai menu or did a chef from Thailand arrive later? That’s all I’m able to document from printed sources.

    So perhaps Thai Restaurant in Andersonville was the first mostly-Thai restaurant in Chicago (arguments about authenticity aside). Possibly Shanghai served some Thai dishes earlier. It wouldn’t be surprising if some other Chinese restaurants around the same time employed Thai chefs who would prepare food of the homeland for compatriots but I can find no hard evidence in support.

    The first time I ate Thai food was at Bangkok Restaurant probably in 1974 or ’75. It wasn’t until my friends and I started going to Rosded around 1976, and the Western Avenue places a little later, that I became a regular. We didn’t go to Thai Room as much as the others, maybe because it was a little more expensive. On Western, a little north of Lawrence, were Thai Villa and Thai Cousin (I hope that’s correct). Only in 1979 or ’80 did I find Siam Café/Siam Noodle and that became a favorite as well. I believe Siam Café later turned into Siam Noodle while Siam Café relocated nearby. I wasn’t aware of Thai Town back then (anyone know what year it opened?).

    Around that time (1979-80) a small Thai market opened in Hyde Park so I was able to purchase fish sauce, canned curry pastes, dried galangal, etc and make my first (pathetic) attempts at cooking Thai food. I still have my first Thai cookbook, Cooking Thai Food in American Kitchens by Malulee Pinsuvana (1979). It doesn’t hold up real well next to Thompson’s Thai Food but back then it was a revelation. Shortly after that I moved from Chicago so wasn’t around when Thai restaurants really multiplied here in the early 1980s.

    These early Thai restaurants were only a shadow of what we now take for granted in Chicago. They did the best they could with a limited palette of ingredients but opened up new worlds of flavors for many, myself certainly included.
  • Post #18 - December 16th, 2005, 1:13 am
    Post #18 - December 16th, 2005, 1:13 am Post #18 - December 16th, 2005, 1:13 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Erik,

    Where does Siam Noodle and Rice fit into the timeline? I had the impression from you (and I may be mistaken) it was one of the older Thai restaurants around.

    Thanks!

    Regards,


    Siam Noodle does not only have some age on it, it's also truly the oldest "real thai" restaurant in Chicago... a precursor to Spoon, Roseded, Thai Avenue, TAC, SRice, etc.
  • Post #19 - December 16th, 2005, 7:19 am
    Post #19 - December 16th, 2005, 7:19 am Post #19 - December 16th, 2005, 7:19 am
    The Encyclopedia of Chicago wrote:Thai immigration to metropolitan Chicago has mirrored national immigration patterns for this Southeast Asian population group. Few Thais came prior to the liberalization of U.S. immigration laws in 1965, but steady increases since the 1970s made Thais one of the 10 largest Asian groups in the region by the end of the twentieth century with more than 6,000 counted by the 2000 census.


    Just thought I'd throw that out there. Given the timing it talks about that, I suspect that the places mentioned in this thread really are, if not the first time Thai food was ever on a menu (ie, in a Chinese restaurant staffed by Thais), the first Thai restaurants proper.
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  • Post #20 - December 17th, 2005, 10:34 am
    Post #20 - December 17th, 2005, 10:34 am Post #20 - December 17th, 2005, 10:34 am
    Cathy,

    Siam Noodle & Rice is in the space that was formerly occupied by Siam Cafe in the early-mid 1970s. But of course the story is more complicated than that--as I understand it, having been told by long-time patrons and neighborhood residents, there was (a not uncommon) parting of the ways between those involved in Siam Cafe--the gentleman who ran the front of the house thought they could do more business in a larger space, and moved the name to the location that is currently Siam Cafe, a bit north on Sheridan. Others involved (and I believe this includes some critical members of the cook staff) were happy where they were and stayed.

    The original Siam Cafe was a great place, I ate there 3-5 times a week for months when I first moved to Chicago, their rendition of pad thai (called thai rice stick) is still unmatched in my book. Noodles alternately soft and crispy (like a good hash brown) with dried shrimp, bits of tofu, some bean sprouts, a nice wedge of cabbage and a half lime, sprinkled with peanuts. They had on every table 5-6 different condiments including a basic red pepper paste, red and green peppers in hot vinegar, sugar, and chopped peanuts. They had a carrot salad that was killer, dressed with citrus juice, dried shrimp, little bits of long bean and tomato, and some hot pepper. I suspect that they substituted carrots for green papayas, which were difficult to find, as the treatment was exactly the same as for green papaya salad. And they had a grilled chicken, called simply charcoal chicken, that was delicious. Another of my favorites was a simple dish called hot pepper shrimp, that was, well, hot peppers, shrimp, and lots of onions in a very simple sauce based on fish sauce. It was their unwillingness to dumb down their food, ie leave out the dried shrimp or lean on soy sauce at the expense of fish sauce, that made the place so good, in my opinion.

    This place was really no nonsense, the single small storefront that Siam Noodle now occupies, a good bit of carry out business, but a quick turnover on tables. You could order your food at the back counter while you waited for a table and they would time it so that when a table came up, your food was out almost immediately. Not a place to linger. There were a significant number of Thai immigrants that ate there, who lived in Uptown generally and particularly in some of the subsidized HUD buildings nearby. It was always amusing to see the Thai patrons eating with soup spoons while the white patrons showed of their chop stick chops. Water was served in the lovely low hammered metal bowls, and had to be requested. Most dishes were about $3.50 when I ate there regularly, and thus cost me only a bit more than an hours wage, which was affordable to me. I ate there more times than I have probably eaten at any other restaurant in my life, save perhaps the best pizza place in the world, a subject on which I will not dwell in deference to misguided pizza-eaters anywhere.

    The new and larger Siam Cafe morphed into a lackluster, lunch-buffet type of place, although they have some spectacular kaffir lime trees in the front window. The gentleman in question still presides over the front of the house.
  • Post #21 - December 26th, 2018, 9:48 pm
    Post #21 - December 26th, 2018, 9:48 pm Post #21 - December 26th, 2018, 9:48 pm
    In the early 70's through the 1980's I can recall quite a few Thai restaurants that were in the near north and north side of Chicago. In the Early 70's Lincoln and Western had 3 or 4; Opart, Rosed, Siam Village and Thai Villa was on Lincoln Ave. 2 doors north of Grace on the east side of the street. I was working at Ratso's on Lincoln Ave. then and a young Thai man came to work in our kitchen in 1975. Jack took me to every single Thai restaurant that was in Chicago at the time including, Thai Star, Star of Siam and a place on Illinois just west of State whose name eludes me at the moment. We ate food that was not on the menu...per se. Later, many Thai restaurants and food shops and markets opened on Argyle. Sukumvit on LaSalle just north of Division and featured a myriad of vegetarian as well and vegan (jai food) options on and off the menu. Thai Classic on Clark St. in the plaza just south of Roscoe (where Happy Sushi was) was very good with the seating that had leg room below the table. Thai Town was wonderful as well. I have been eating in Thai restaurants in Chicago and the Suburbs for over 40 years and came to know many owners, backers and partners of the joints. My wife worked in over 20 restaurants from 2005 until 2018 (she still comes back to work in Chicago every summer). We currently have been living in Thailand for the past 5 years and I can assure you the food here is quite different from that which is served in America. Thai food in Chicago has a rich and abundant history...I am happy to have been enjoying it for so long.
    TFox...I eat to live and I live to eat
  • Post #22 - December 27th, 2018, 12:51 am
    Post #22 - December 27th, 2018, 12:51 am Post #22 - December 27th, 2018, 12:51 am
    TFox125 wrote:Thai food in Chicago has a rich and abundant history...I am happy to have been enjoying it for so long.

    I am just as thrilled to have a post updated after 13 long years. Your thoughts are appreciated.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #23 - December 27th, 2018, 3:24 am
    Post #23 - December 27th, 2018, 3:24 am Post #23 - December 27th, 2018, 3:24 am
    Cathy - I was reminded by a close friend yesterday about all the group dinners that we had at Thai Classic on Clark St. in the mid-80's but the name was eluding this old brain of mine. I Googled "Thai Restaurants in Chicago 1970's and 1980's and I came up with your thread on LTH. It has been a long time since I visited the LTH site. My friend and "brother" Chef Alan Lake is a regular contributor and was the person who pointed me to this group of food lovin' folks in the first place. I truly wish that I could remember all the Thai restaurants that I ate at since the day in June of 1974 that "Thai" Jack took me into Rosed and broke my cherry with some outrageously spicy curry dishes. They were "phet mak mak" to say the least. After that, he took me all over the city killing me with exciting new taste sensations. Today however, that level of spice and heat is child's play to me. I am cooking most of my dishes over here with 8 to 15 Thai red and green chilies [when required] and the lady in the market, who pounds my Massaman curry paste for me, ramps up the heat to the max...without losing flavor.

    All the best for the New Year and if you are ever in the Central Coast of Thailand give us a call...we will show you some Thai food.

    Sawadee Pi Mai!!! Terry and Wi Fox, Khao Tao, Thailand
    TFox...I eat to live and I live to eat
  • Post #24 - December 27th, 2018, 7:24 am
    Post #24 - December 27th, 2018, 7:24 am Post #24 - December 27th, 2018, 7:24 am
    Regrettably, I can't remember names except for Thai Star, which you already have, but my first Thai food was Thai Star and a couple other places in the early 80s:
    * Thai Star when it was at State and ?Superior? I remember the spice on Chicken with Basil knocking my socks off (but that might have been injudicious use of condiments).
    * A place on Devon several blocks west of the Indian neighborhood on the north side of the street. First Pad Thai, Mee Krob, Panang, fresh spring rolls, etc.. It was the closest to where we lived at the time, so we were there a number of times with friends.
    * A place on Irving Park just east of Clark, don't remember anything memorable here, was only here once or twice as it was close to my brother's place.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #25 - December 27th, 2018, 8:34 am
    Post #25 - December 27th, 2018, 8:34 am Post #25 - December 27th, 2018, 8:34 am
    I was not aware Thai-American cuisine (let's be honest, that's what it generally is here) goes back nearly 50 years in Chicago. I thought it was newer- maybe beginning in the early 80's. So how long since the first Vietnamese place opened? First Korean? First Indian or Paki place? For that matter, about when did the first Filipino restaurant open here? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Just thinking, there could be (or maybe is already, buried somewhere) a thread about ethic food history in Chicagoland.
  • Post #26 - December 27th, 2018, 8:53 am
    Post #26 - December 27th, 2018, 8:53 am Post #26 - December 27th, 2018, 8:53 am
    I remember enjoying Thai food in Oak Park in the '80s.

    Pardon me of I don't recall the names but there was places...

    ... on the corner of Ridgeland and Madison where Cuzzo's currently is, 330 Madison St
    ... on Harlem where Mickey's is, 525 N Harlem Ave, Oak Park

    The food was good but I remember how odd it was that the hot food was served on a bed of lettuce?!?
    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat
  • Post #27 - December 27th, 2018, 8:55 am
    Post #27 - December 27th, 2018, 8:55 am Post #27 - December 27th, 2018, 8:55 am
    Giovanna wrote:My earliest knowledge of Thai food in Chicago is the Thai Room being 4100-ish north on Western Ave. I went there for the first time in 1979, and it was love at first bite.
    I moved to Chicago in the early '80s and spotted Thai Room on Western around the third week of my new, amazing, city. I heard Thai food was spicy, I was a fan of spicy so I stopped for lunch.

    I was Blown Away, flabbergasted, gobsmacked, astounded, head over heels in love!

    There was a pay phone in Thai Room's foyer, I gathered a bunch of quarters and called a friend in Milwaukee, gushed until my coins ran out, he came to visit both me and Thai Room the next weekend. I was so obviously just-moved-to-the-big-city I may as well have had corn silk in my hair, straw in my mouth and worn Oshkosh bib overalls.

    My first Thai cookbook was "The Original Thai Cookbook" by Jennifer Brennan.

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  • Post #28 - December 27th, 2018, 9:08 am
    Post #28 - December 27th, 2018, 9:08 am Post #28 - December 27th, 2018, 9:08 am
    adipocere wrote:First Korean?

    I can offer an undocumented answer: Cho Sun Ok at Berteau and Lincoln Ave has been there according to their website since 1980.

    My Grandmother bought the building where Cho Sun Ok is located in 1971-1972 roughly. The restaurant space already had a Korean restaurant.

    The offices for the family business are directly next door. The smell of fermenting kim chi was quite strong and unfamiliar to everyone. Consequently, nobody from our business went there except my Dad and family.

    Bulgogi and panchan were instant winners in our book. We ate that or large bowls of noodle soup call Sapporo. My Dad's Filipina bookkeeper could not understand why we spent money on noodle soup. She once gave us a packet of Ramen noodle soup, which became a regular at our house.

    Language was a barrier at this restaurant. We pretty much stuck to Bulgogi for years, until I found a Korean food picture book at the Highland Park Library. I was lucky to catch it on the discontinued book rack and now own it.

    My Grandfather has an honorary street sign at Berteau and Lincoln Ave since the early 90s.

    At least for my family, we have been eating Korean food since the early 1970s, which we never thought much about. We were supporting our tenants and getting ourselves fed.

    Regards,
    CAthy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #29 - December 27th, 2018, 10:10 am
    Post #29 - December 27th, 2018, 10:10 am Post #29 - December 27th, 2018, 10:10 am
    Panther in the Den wrote:I remember enjoying Thai food in Oak Park in the '80s.

    Pardon me of I don't recall the names but there was places...

    ... on the corner of Ridgeland and Madison where Cuzzo's currently is, 330 Madison St
    ... on Harlem where Mickey's is, 525 N Harlem Ave, Oak Park

    The food was good but I remember how odd it was that the hot food was served on a bed of lettuce?!?


    Mickey's was a Thai restaurant? We lived very close at the time, and I thought it went right from a Burger King to Mickeys. Was the Thai place there long?
  • Post #30 - December 27th, 2018, 10:11 am
    Post #30 - December 27th, 2018, 10:11 am Post #30 - December 27th, 2018, 10:11 am
    chicagojim wrote:
    Panther in the Den wrote:I remember enjoying Thai food in Oak Park in the '80s.

    Pardon me of I don't recall the names but there was places...

    ... on the corner of Ridgeland and Madison where Cuzzo's currently is, 330 Madison St
    ... on Harlem where Mickey's is, 525 N Harlem Ave, Oak Park

    The food was good but I remember how odd it was that the hot food was served on a bed of lettuce?!?


    Mickey's was a Thai restaurant? We lived very close at the time, and I thought it went right from a Burger King to Mickeys. Was the Thai place there long?

    Not all that long. A couple of years maybe.
    "Very good... but not my favorite." ~ Johnny Depp as Roux the Gypsy in Chocolat

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