Monday, May 21, 2018

Ca Phe Da

-Grubbing in Chicago
New to the 'Scene'

Shortly after returning from a few weeks in SE Asia this past winter we wanted more as far as the food. So we hopped in the car and headed over to Pilsen where the folks behind HaiSous (write up HERE) opened a casual Vietnamese coffee shop. The hip coffee shop type cafe is big in Vietnam's larger cities and I remember commenting that this could easily be a spot like those in Hanoi.

New locals favorite in Pilsen

It's a bright and airy space with a really nice selection of both drinks and snacks. As far as the drinks go they have all the specialty Vietnamese style coffee drinks as well as cocktails. It's nice for those in the neighborhood to have a place you can get a good drink at before 5p. Then if want you can get some really good elevated bar food too. The menu is pretty simple with a handful of options and some really good ones at that. A mandatory starter for anyone drinking a brew are the crisped up chicken skins. I know the term chicken crack is heavily used for other dishes but this is just as dangerous.

Fried Chicken Skins at Ca Phe Da

One of the more popular items next door at HaiSous are the chicken wings. They seemed to have brought those over here and why not as wings make for a great drinking snack. For those of us that like the flavors of fish sauce these wings are hard to beat when it comes to the non-buffalo variety.

Fried Chicken Wings at Ca Phe Da

While I loved the little Bahn Mi stand they have behind the counter it did not produce the tastes I was hoping they could replicate. Though in fairness I dont think anywhere outside of Vietnam can after trying the best of the best. The biggest problem with this sandwich was the bread itself. It was as soft as the rolls at Jimmy John's thus it just didn't taste right. While I also wasn't fond of the meat itself I think that was more of a personal preference as I like pork a little less fatty than what they had.

Banh Mi at Ca Phe Da

My favorite thing on the menu is the dish that tasted most like our trip. That was the Goi Ga which is a traditional Vietnamese chicken salad. Folks in SE Asia eat chicken a bit differently in that it can almost come across as raw but it's not it's just really fresh. I love the combination of flavors in this dish that also features roasted nuts, lots of herbs and sticky rice, fish sauce and the likes. I'd eat this salad for lunch pretty regularly if I had easy access to it. Pilsen is changing. Spots like this are part of the reason but change doesn't have to be bad and a place like Ca Phe Da is a good ex. of why.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad at Ca Phe Da

Ca Phe Da
1/2, 1800 S Carpenter St
Chicago, IL 60608
(773) 999-1800

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