Lakeview's ATK offers bold flavors of Thai cuisine
November 2, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- You wouldn't know it from a quick glance, but this tiny restaurant in Lakeview has one of the most ambitious Thai menus in the city. The ATK stands for Andy's Thai Kitchen, and the owner is hoping to expand his customers' impressions of what true Thai food can be.
"It's basically Thai, but I'm focusing on real Thai food," said owner Andy Aroonrasameruang.
That means while he'll keep some of the Americanized, predictable noodles and skewers.. He'll also have his "boat noodle" dish, which features a heady broth of chicken and beef stock, embedded with meatball, shredded brisket and sweet soy sauce; in a wide bowl, boiled Chinese broccoli and bean sprouts are tossed below a cap of softened rice noodles. The hearty soup- which is thickened and flavored with a bit of blood - is to Thai children what chicken noodle soup is in America.
Salads are plentiful, and his riff on a traditional papaya salad is noteworthy. Instead of serving it raw, he coats shards of papaya in tempura batter and fries them; eventually plating them with a vibrant dressing of fish sauce and lime juice-soaked green beans, cherry tomatoes and shrimp.
On his puffy catfish salad, meanwhile, those green shreds are mango, not papaya, and they hover over a bed of catfish that's been picked clean of bones and quickly fried with Thai chilies.
"..with green mango, chili, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic and onions," he said.
His khao soi - one of the best dishes from Northern Thailand - is a hearty, rich coconut milk-infused curry with bits of chicken. It typically houses boiled egg noodles, as well as crispy ones on top. At the table, you add as much pickled greens, fresh shallots, crushed peanuts and fresh lime juice as you like.
"This is one of my favorites. I'm not from the Northern Thailand..I love the yellow curry, a little bit spicy from the red chili curry, and you can put chicken or you can put pork," said Andy.
Andy says unlike his previous employer, who offered two menus - one for the timid, the other for Thai ex-pats - this time around, he's put everything on just one, unified menu.
"You don't have to come in and ask, can I have a secret or another Thai menu; I feel it's like everyone should have, treated the same level," he said.
946 W. Wellington Ave.
restaurants, steve dolinsky
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