-Grubbing in Chicago
Khmer Cooking in Rogers Park
We're more than halfway through the calendar year but I expect a few places to open between now and the end of December that will be named among the years most exciting openings. But for now one of the spots that pops into my mind immediately is Khmai Fine Dining on Howard in Rogers Park.
Recently Opened in Rogers Park
Khmai is a Cambodian restaurant that's the latest offering from a mom and daughter duo who did catering and pop-ups before going brick & mortar. Cambodian cuisine is relatively rare in Chicago with the exception being the corner of Armitage and Kostner where Googoo's Table and Hermosa Restaurant reside. Outside of those spots, which come from the same family, this is the only other place to find Cambodian food in town. If you've never had it before it's a little different from the Southeast Asian flavors you may be used to in that it skews sweet with lots of citrus and sour. It's not as hot and spicy as other Southeast Asian cuisines but it's every bit as herbaceous. Chef Mona Sang cooks Khmer style dishes which refers specifically to the cuisine of the Khmer people. Rice is a popular ingredient as is beef so for starters I highly recommend the Sach Koh Ang which are steak skewers marinated in a Kreoung paste which is the Khmer word for the herb and spice pastes that make up the flavors of Khmer cooking. These are a leading candidate for the best thing I've ate this year. I tried them on my first visit and couldn't resist getting them again when I returned to try more.
Cambodian Beef Skewers (Sach Koh Ang) at Khmai Fine Dining
Khmai is the type of spot you want to visit with a group so you can try a few things. I was solo on both of my visits so I still need to try more of the menu because for now I find it hard to pass on those skewers. But I also opted for the Lort Cha (stir fried pin noodles) with ribeye on the rec of my waitress and I was happy with her call. Short and chewy rice noodles are stir fried with bean sprouts and two types of onion as well as a mix of liquids including fish sauce which is topped with chopped peanuts and a fried egg plus crispy garlic and a dollop of chili sauce. Khmer dipping sauce comes on the side, it's sweet but seems to work well with just about everything. I've never been to Cambodia but these are the flavors I remember from a visit to Cambodia Town in Long Beach. Happy to have them here.
Lort Cha at Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining
Khmai Fine Dining2043 W Howard St
Chicago, IL 60645
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