I need to feed my Thai obsession. I know if I go for too long without Thai food, we eat it for a few days straight. Awhile back, I was seated between Michael Kornick of MK and the Chicago editor for eater.com who were doing a pretty hard sell on Tac Quick. I always feel like a numbnuts when I can’t contribute to the “ooohing and ahhhing” of a restaurant. But I’ve learned that there will always be foodies that can one-up me at a dinner party. I look at it as how I expand my data base of what’s out there. And you know if chefs and other food writers are raving about a place, GO. So, once they put it in my head, the Thai obsession was flowing with a red-hot passion. I keep a list of restaurants at my desk of where I need to eat. The list is compiled from all different publications, online sites and word-of-mouth from industry insiders. Tac Quick moved to the top of my list that night.
I called Prince Charming and Snooty to join me for a Thai feast. We were told by the Editor to ask for the secret spicy menu. For sure I was asking for anything secret. We were also told to bring a bottle of Rose. Check…did that too. We were seated smack in the middle of the place and I could see every meal pass by. It smelled like…my Thai Heaven. While they were chatting away, I studied the menus. They knew better than to have any input as to what we were going to taste. The waitress was extremely helpful in making suggestions of some of Tac Quick’s must-try dishes. Here is some of what landed on our table:
- Spicy Basil Rolls with ground beef, basil leaf, jalapeno and cabbage served with ginger sweet & sour
- Crispy on Choy
- Chicken Panang Curry
- Pad Thai Kung Sod Haw Khai, Glass noodle and shrimp “Pad thai!” folded into an omelet
We also had a dish that I can’t recall the name or find on their online menu, but it was stir fried ground chicken with a Thai chili sauce and topped with fermented duck eggs. Now, I can already see the face you just made. When the waitress suggested it, I thought the word fermented could also mean…OLD. But I have to say, it was an interesting texture (much like a dark hard boiled egg) and surprisingly not too strong considering my expectations of “fermented”.
Every single dish we tasted was screaming with abundant flavor. Not that anything was overpowering, except for maybe the spice from the secret menu. Be prepared if you ask for the secret menu that you truly can handle the heat. Snooty was sweating like a nervous child. The menu offers some standards but also has a fantastic assortment of atypical dishes. We took a table vote at the end of the meal and the Crispy On Choy was the runaway winner. It’s prepared with tempura fried Chinese watercress, shrimp, ground chicken, mint leaf and onions with spicy chili paste lime dressing. The sauce had the perfect spice balanced with citrus and tang. The tempura fried watercress amazed me. That a chef took each individual leaf and fried it was the crown of the dish. With each bite, you had crispy, sweet, spicy, and citrusy over a simple ground chicken. Now, I can’t stop thinking about going back. I didn’t actually pacify my Thai obsession, I made it worse. For most diners, especially those who visit the city infrequently, Tac Quick is worth the trip. It’s a local crowd, BYOB, inexpensive and casual on the North side of town. I’m hungry for some crispy just writing this.
3930 N. Sheridan, Chicago