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Sabai-Dee, Lao cuisine in Edgewater

Sabai-Dee, Lao cuisine in Edgewater
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  • Sabai-Dee, Lao cuisine in Edgewater

    Post #1 - October 3rd, 2007, 1:36 pm
    Post #1 - October 3rd, 2007, 1:36 pm Post #1 - October 3rd, 2007, 1:36 pm
    I have been eagerly anticipating the opening of Sabai-Dee ever since dug posted about it on the Openings/Closings thread. They opened yesterday and my wife and I were not disappointed.

    We were a little apprehensive when we saw the first offering at the steam table. Had we walked into a Panda Express by mistake?
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    Things started looking up at the next stop:
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    Just past the kung pao chicken were attractive banana leaf-wrapped-bundles which was a sweet/gooey rice/banana offering that really hit the spot.

    We knew we were in a different kind of place at the next station. Red curry chicken, two kinds of Lao sausage (beef + pork), and Pa Lo stew, a sweet comfort dish featuring tofu and hard boiled eggs:
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    Also available--marinated grilled chicken and fried chicken wings:
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    ...salads and various pre-wrapped sweets and things:
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    My wife and I were impressed by the robust flavors. The sausages had that little funky edge that we love, but the texture wasn't great, perhaps suffering from residing at the steam table. The salad was tasty, but it included shredded pork skin, which I really don't like (it's the texture--should it be chewed?) We also took home a tomato-based salsa-like concoction for dipping that was really sensational. I hope they rotate in a variety of dishes as time goes by (no menus printed yet). And the sesame balls proudly included lard on its short list of ingredients.

    Prices are reasonable:
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    And the staff was very friendly:
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    The fellow managing the place, Kevin, said that both of his parents were lifelong chefs. They've worked in restaurants their whole lives and wanted to try something different. I think they are off to a great start. It was nice to see a number of customers coming in around lunchtime. Kevin also said that Chicago magazine had stopped by to take pictures.

    I live a couple blocks away so the carry-out only thing wasn't a hassle. There is room for a few tables and Kevin said they were planning on adding some soon. I wish them well. Such a delight to have tasty, inexpensive, interesting food in the neighborhood. And also good to have Laotian food back on Chicago's culinary map (RIP Cafe Nhu Hoa). And "sabai-dee" means "hello" in Laos, in case you were wondering.

    Sabai-Dee
    5359 N Broadway, Unit A
    773-506-0880
    10am - 8pm


    Not sure if they take credit cards yet, but there's a Jewel with an ATM down the block.

    Edited to reflect addition of table seating
    Last edited by tapler on October 29th, 2007, 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - October 19th, 2007, 8:29 am
    Post #2 - October 19th, 2007, 8:29 am Post #2 - October 19th, 2007, 8:29 am
    I am extremely remiss in posting to this thread; I'm pleased at least to be able to bump it back up, though.

    Lovely Dining Companion and I went for take-out a week or so ago and were taken with this simple spot. Kevin, the Laotian-born owner, was extremely helpful and eager for us to try the various dishes and so we tried to put together a variety of items. Unfortunately, since I didn't write anything down, my recollection of exactly what we had must suffer in consequence. Please don't let that keep you away.

    Like tapler, we were initially suprised to see several apparently Chinese dishes to start. But one of the strengths of Sabai-Dee is its wealth and breadth of offerings, both hot and cold. We skipped past the Chinese dishes (full disclosure obliges me to admit that we presumed, without asking, that given their tags and appearance, they were in fact Chinese) and tried to select a variety.

    Since we invariably have a refrigerator full of leftovers, we also tried hard not to overbuy. Which means we need to return to try some of the many, many other items that were on display. But we did end up with several apps and several main courses.

    Among the former were Vietnamese-seeming rice paper-wrapped shrimp rolls (the dipping suace was a slightly sweet, dark soy-based sauce) as well as some tiny, deep-fried shrimp-filled rolls.

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    LDC also opted for soup, which appears fleetingly in the upper-right corner together with the condiments packed for its proper enjoyment.

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    Sadly, I recall too little about the soup to offer any description. I can say without reservation, however, that all of the above was quite enjoyable, if not exciting or revelatory.

    Main courses included a red chicken curry (appearing first below) and a beef and eggplant "stew" (appearing underneath the chicken shot).

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    There were, as tapler's pictures well attest, an enormous variety of other items available and we are both eager to return and try some of them. The chicken curry, while reminiscent of Thai curries, was less "aggressive" (to choose a not-entirely-apt word), more subtly spiced. Very smooth, with an unexpected depth of flavor. The beef/eggplant dish was again, reminiscent of Thai flavors while, at the same time, distinguishable. As a general matter, my suspicion is that anyone liking Thai would like this cuisine--or at least Sabai-Dee's rendition. Given that Laos and Thailand (and Vietnam) are neighbors, the strong similarity of flavors is not surprising. But I don't know enough (okay, I don't know anything) about Laotian cuisine to identify the slightly different emphasis.

    Desserts were simple: a pumpkin-filled jelly/paste was wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed--a great hit with me--and the little cake resembled a Chinese moon cake, filled with a sweet black bean paste (I think).

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    Go! Enjoy! Kevin is a wonderful, attentive and helpful host. The place is spotless and offers a veritable cornucopia of things to select from. While not remarkably different from Thai, the food IS, nevertheless, different and I'd hate for such a labor of love to fail to attract sufficient attention.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #3 - October 19th, 2007, 10:27 am
    Post #3 - October 19th, 2007, 10:27 am Post #3 - October 19th, 2007, 10:27 am
    Thanks for posting - I'm looking forward to checking it out soon when I hit up Golden Pacific next door for some items!
  • Post #4 - October 29th, 2007, 8:30 am
    Post #4 - October 29th, 2007, 8:30 am Post #4 - October 29th, 2007, 8:30 am
    Sabai-Dee has added some tables to their space now, so you don't have to eat in the car anymore.
  • Post #5 - March 4th, 2008, 7:37 pm
    Post #5 - March 4th, 2008, 7:37 pm Post #5 - March 4th, 2008, 7:37 pm
    Strolled into Sabai-Dee today.

    My first impression was that it was clean and bright.

    I grabbed a papaya salad. It was prepared Lao-style with a crab sauce. It was very spicy (as requested). The crab sauce was a bit overpowering to me, but I had never had it before. After a few bites my palate adjusted and the other flavors started to come through. It was very slightly sweet, salty and had a good dose of heat.

    The owner is very personable, and spent some time pointing out and describing some of the other dishes for me. I'll definitely go back soon to try some of them.
  • Post #6 - May 8th, 2008, 7:55 am
    Post #6 - May 8th, 2008, 7:55 am Post #6 - May 8th, 2008, 7:55 am
    Let me add a few other dishes to the above. By the way, although there is a steam table, I arrived later at night (about 8:30) and all the dishes were fresh. They included:

    1) homemade sausage--with nice little chunks of fat inside and a bit of heat.

    2). Egg-noodle soup w/ bbq pork and wontons. The soup was served red-hot and the broth had a silky texture with a hint of garlic and cilantro for additional flavor

    3). I usually don't order deserts at Asian restaurants, but there were about a dozen offered, and I couldn't pass up the sticky rice with fresh mango. Richly flavored with excellent toothy rice.

    Cost w/ tax for the above, along with an iced Thai coffee: $15.77

    Well-lit and pleasant inside, with a welcoming host and a pictured menu to help you decide, Sabai-dee is a good alternative to the options down the street on Argyle, particularly if the parking there is non-existent.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #7 - July 19th, 2008, 11:34 am
    Post #7 - July 19th, 2008, 11:34 am Post #7 - July 19th, 2008, 11:34 am
    Finally dropped by on Friday just after noon while taking a day off work to do various errands. Overall it was 95% delightful and delicious, as described by many, and 5% Monty Python sketch.
    I was the only one there, and the host/owner was as friendly and helpful as everyone reports. There was markedly less on display than in the photos and descriptions above up-thread, but the menu was provided so I assume I could have ordered anything.
    On the wall next to the steam table were very clear color photos of most of the dishes. Among these was a photo labelled "pork sausage" and the subject, pictured in cross-section, looked just like the Issan sausages I've had elsewhere, i.e. light brown/khaki colored outside, plump round shape, uniform fine-ground filling inside. I said, "I'll have the pork sausage," gesturing toward the photo. I also ordered the marinated/grilled cornish hen.

    When he came to the table bearing sausage, what he carried was a generous portion of deep red/pink, chewy sausage, bearing virtually no resemblence to the photo. It appeared to be a cured sausage, rather than fresh, had discernable chunks of meat in it rather than a fine ground filling, and was not much thicker than a Slim Jim and served in pieces pre-cut on the diagonal. It looked like some of the cured Chinese sausages you see, or even some of the thinner Hungarian salamis you see at Paulina. It was very good, so I didn't consider it a big problem, but I was curious as to what it was. So I asked in as neutral and non-complaining a tone as possible, what sausage this was because I had meant to order the one in the picture, but this was very good. He smiled and said, "No, that's the same one. Exactly the same." This simply seems impossible. They were as different as a Nathan's hot dog from an Italian. Color, size, texture, shape. But clearly, had I pursued it I would have ended up on the wrong side of the Dead Parrot sketch, so I just smiled and bemusedly ate on. There were three different types (or at least shapes) of fried roll present: a larger, darker one that looked more Chinese style, a Thai style one (smaller and with a light colored, flaky wrapper, and tiny bite-sized ones in the same light wrapper. However, they all turned out to be chicken filled. Some with just ground meat, some with meat, veg. and noodles. I had the latter, and it was fine, but not special.
    Didn't have dessert, but the iced coffee was perfect.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #8 - August 11th, 2008, 12:11 am
    Post #8 - August 11th, 2008, 12:11 am Post #8 - August 11th, 2008, 12:11 am
    Had dinner tonight at Sabai-Dee, and had a great meal. There were several in our group, so we ordered lots and shared. For appetizers, we had Ku Chai, a fabulous chive-stuffed, rice-based, pan-fried dumpling; thom mak hoon lao, a wonderfully flavorful papaya salad mentioned above; and larb ngua, a grilled beef salad that was simply fabulous.

    For our mains we had penang curry soup, which was not massively different from Thai versions, but was excellent; basil chicken (with chilies, fresh basil, onions, and garlic), which was sensational; and mi kob lad nar, a mountain of fried noodles with veggies, shrimp, and sauce, which was very good but not quite as vivid as the other two dishes.

    Kao poon soup was yummy -- shredded cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, rice noodles, and chicken in a red curry sauce.

    For dessert, we sampled sticky rice with mango, mixed fruit with coconut, and the surprise winner in this category, mung bean with coconut. All were delicious, however, with the icy mixed fruit being the most refreshing. But we were stuffed by the time the mung bean came out, and it we could still hardly stop eating it.

    So a splendid meal.

    I did notice in the wonderful Asian grocery store next door (Golden Pacific -- which is, in fact, attached to the restaurant, and can be accessed from the restaurant) that in the produce section they were selling pre-shredded green papaya, for those who might want to tackle green papaya salad at home. (If you go to Sabai-Dee, it's worth it to leave yourself some time for Golden Pacific -- fascinating array of exotica, including some "extreme food" for those who fancy it (such as Maeng Da, huge cockroack-like insects that offer no more instruction than "cook before eating). But for those who simply love Asian food, there is a lot of more "ordinary" exotica available.

    I definitely concur with those who have praised spiffy, sparkling Sabai-Dee, both for great food and the friendly staff.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #9 - July 29th, 2010, 9:13 am
    Post #9 - July 29th, 2010, 9:13 am Post #9 - July 29th, 2010, 9:13 am
    Hey guys --

    has Sabai-Dee closed?

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/sabai-dee-chica ... QSeKXj3OLQ

    :(
  • Post #10 - July 29th, 2010, 10:29 am
    Post #10 - July 29th, 2010, 10:29 am Post #10 - July 29th, 2010, 10:29 am
    The Lovely Dining Companion was shopping at Golden Pacific this past weekend and reported that the place was dark. According to her, the sign just said "closed" (just their regular "closing" sign and no other info).

    Let's hope for the best; I'd hate to hear it's gone.

    P.S. FWIW, it pretty much always seemed empty when we'd go in, but we were always assured that business was good when we asked....
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #11 - July 29th, 2010, 1:45 pm
    Post #11 - July 29th, 2010, 1:45 pm Post #11 - July 29th, 2010, 1:45 pm
    I walked by today and they were indeed closed. But looking through the window I saw that the cooler was still stocked with soft drinks, for whatever that's worth. I would hold off writing the obituary until we can gather more concrete info.
  • Post #12 - July 29th, 2010, 1:55 pm
    Post #12 - July 29th, 2010, 1:55 pm Post #12 - July 29th, 2010, 1:55 pm
    Haven't had a chance to ask myself, but my guess is that the owner of Golden Pacific (or possibly even Joe, the owner of Parkview Pets, across the street) may well know what's up. I'll try to get in to see one or the other this weekend.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #13 - July 29th, 2010, 4:47 pm
    Post #13 - July 29th, 2010, 4:47 pm Post #13 - July 29th, 2010, 4:47 pm
    A cashier at Golden Pacific told me they were just on vacation. But that about two weeks ago.
  • Post #14 - July 31st, 2010, 10:51 am
    Post #14 - July 31st, 2010, 10:51 am Post #14 - July 31st, 2010, 10:51 am
    Joe at Parkview Pets across the street said they're closed for good. Steady but not sufficient business (plus, he thinks, some family dynamics). Whatever the reason, I'm definitely sorry to see them go. They were a wonderful addition to scene, friendly, and served consistently good, inexpensive food.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)

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