-Grubbing in Chicago
Northern Thai Food in Ravenswood
Despite the fact I’ve been blogging about Chicago restaurants for more than 15 years I still haven’t posted about all of my go-to spots. No reason in particular other than I just haven’t gotten around to doing so in part because it’s not like most of us don’t know about a place like Aroy Thai. But if not it’s just north of the Damen brown line station where it’s a neighborhood staple. It’s one of the many spots I was put onto by LTHforum back in the message boards early days. The purpose of the still up and running site was to shine a light on spots like Aroy Thai and that purpose was more than achieved as it’s always listed among the city’s best Thai restaurants and rightfully so. There’s no such thing as a hidden gem anymore and it seems like everyone has been everywhere but I still wanted to throw up a little piece on one of my favorite places in town for the bold and beautiful flavors of Northern Thailand. Aroy (which means tasty in Thai) has a nice menu selection of Northern Thai favorites.
Aroy Thai is a very casual spot but the food is very formal. The menu sports many of the classics you’ll find at most Thai restaurants around town but it also has some of the stuff you won’t find everywhere and that’s what I come here for. Options like the Morning Glory (Pak Boong) which is the nickname for stir fried water spinach. I first came across it in Chiang Mai and I instantly became a big fan. Most spots stir fry it over a high heat with garlic and chilies plus dry and liquid seasonings. It’s salty, sweet, and spicy which are just a few of the key components of Thai food. Although Morning Glory is common at restaurants in SE Asia it’s less common here. Aroy Thai is one of the few spots in town that seems to have it.
If I see some form of grilled pork collar on the menu I’ll order it more times than not. I think this might have been the first spot I tried it in the form of Thai style grilled pork neck (Kor Moo Yang). It’s a pretty traditional dish. Aroy serves a version that’s well charred and comes with a wonderfully funky and spicy jeow sauce that packs a ton of bold flavor. I like how they cut the meat up into bite size pieces as it’s tender but comes with a slight chew. Make a complete meal out of it by adding a sticky rice.
4654 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60625