Sweet and Sour Red Curry of Water Spinach and Pork Belly (Kaeng The-pho) from Immm Rice & Beyond in Chicago


Sweet and Sour Red Curry with Pork Belly from Immm Rice & Beyond in Chicago
(This post assumes that you have read its prerequisite.)

When it comes to Thai restaurants in the West, the one type that brings the widest range of emotions out of me is ran khao kaeng, rice-curry shops.

They’re the ones I hope for (Rotating menu! Variety! New stuff at every visit!), look for (Why are they so hard to find in the US?), get excited about (Hooray! One just opened up in the city!), and am fearful for (I hope they won’t go out of business like the two I’d interviewed in the last 5 years…) the most.

When done right and supported by the members of their community (so the people who run them can continue to do it right), this type of Thai restaurant could become not only the most approachable but also the most variegated and interesting ‘learning center’ for those who want to know more about Thai food and sample a wider variety of Thai dishes.

But the way rice-curry shops operate in the West—and I’ll get into this shortly—can be confusing. Consequently, what’s written about them is sometimes inaccurate. And because I want them to succeed so much, seeing how they’re misrepresented or misunderstood makes me feel nervous for them at times. Continue Reading →

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The Rice-Curry Shops (Ran Khao Kaeng) of Bangkok: Take Them for What They Are


Bangkok Rice-Curry Shop-SheSimmers.com

It was only five-thirty. But dark. Then I remembered that the sun set early in the winter in this country. Looking across the full parking lot towards a brightly lit building in the distance that was packed with people, I knew if there was a right place to come to, this must have been it.

Moments later, a plastic tray in hands, I found myself in a new world. I’d never seen it in Hollywood movies or American sitcoms let alone experienced it in person. Memories of the random photos I’d seen in my mother’s American cookbooks and the random American food names I remembered from my English classes growing up came back in waves. Believe me when I say I was emotional. Continue Reading →

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Braised Brisket in Tamarind-Palm Sugar Sauce


Braised Brisket in Tamarind-Palm Sugar Sauce
I’m a big, big fan of Jewish-style sweet and sour brisket. In fact, after having tried at least 10 different recipes for it in the past decade, I’ve discovered that even the least impressive batch was delicious to me. It’s almost like you really need to try pretty hard to mess it up. Continue Reading →

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