3 new Southeast Asian spots to savor in Chicago

If you've got Southeast Asian fare on the brain, you're in luck: we've found three new Chicago eateries that will quell your craving. Here are the newest places to check out the next time you're in the mood for Southeast Asian cuisine.

Lotus Banh Mi

166 W. Washington St. (between La Salle St & Wells St.), The Loop

Photo: Kim D./Yelp

Specializing in made-to-order Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and bowls with a healthy twist, Lotus Banh Mi recently expanded with a new location in the Loop.

At the new spot, diners can customize their bahn mi or pho, choosing their own protein, toppings, and sauce options. They can also include extras like spring rolls, fried eggs, and avocados.

Lotus Banh Mi's current Yelp rating of 3.5 stars out of five reviews indicates the newcomer is finding its way, but it's still early days.

Yelper Jason M., who reviewed Lotus Banh Mi on January 10th, wrote: "I got the bahn mi/pho combo and was very happy with it. The sandwich is large and generously filled, and the pho could barely be called soup since it's so loaded with noodles and your choice of protein."

And Wyatt F. said: "These folks have great bahn mi and delicious spring rolls. Try the pork bahn mi with the chicken spring rolls! Glad they moved in down the street from work."

Lotus Banh Mi is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (It's closed on weekends.)

Aloha Wagon

1247 S. Western Ave. (between Washburne Ave.), Near East Side

Photo: Aloha Wagon/Yelp

Aloha Wagon is a Filipino and Hawaiian spot that recently opened in the Near East Side.

The new eatery offers a number of casual options that include "beach buns," tacos, and lunch plates. Diners can expect to find dishes like the kalua pork tacos with homemade chile de arbol salsa; the Hawaiian grilled barbecue chicken plate; and fish tacos with wasabi aioli.

Sides include spam musubi, fries, and potato macaroni salad.

Aloha Wagon's current Yelp rating of five stars out of 18 reviews indicates a warm reception from users.

Yelper Alexandra A., who reviewed Aloha Wagon on January 14th, wrote: "Got the mixed plate: half a Hawaiian barbecue chicken and half chicken katsu. Comes with a side of rice, macaroni salad, and a side salad with dried cranberries. Great meal option for anyone."

And Ruth C. said: "Amazing food! I've been wanting food like this near me in the south side for a long time now. The owner is very kind and hospitable. He is from Hawaii and knows how to cook up a mean dish!"

Aloha Wagon is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (It's closed on Sunday.)

Mai Tai Sushi and Sake Bar

614 S Wabash Ave. (between Balbo Ave & Harrison St.), Loop

Photo: Choong J./Yelp

Mai Tai Sushi and Sake Bar emphasizes sushi, but it also offers Thai and Asian fusion eats.

According to the eatery's website, chef Jirawat "Choong" reinvents pad thai "by using 18 homemade ingredients following a secret recipe from the eastern part of Thailand."

Beyond the signature dish, Mai Tai offers noodle dishes like the drunken noodles with sweet basil, green beans, and tomatoes; classic Thai curries, including a spicy red curry with coconut milk, Thai eggplant, and bamboo shoots; and a wide variety of sushi options.

With a 3.5-star Yelp rating out of 17 reviews on Yelp, Mai Tai Sushi and Sake Bar is still finding its way.

Yelper Yaejin R., who was one of the first users to visit Mai Tai Sushi and Sake Bar on January 17th, wrote: "I get a 45-minute lunch break at work, and their quick/friendly service lets me enjoy good food in time ! I've tried their poke bowl, pad Thai, and the orange chicken. All are great."

And John T. noted: "I really liked this place. Great selection with cuisine from pretty much all over Asia. The sushi is what I got on this particular occasion. The crunchy tuna roll, Godzilla, and soft crab were all excellent. "

Mai Tai Sushi and Sake Bar is open Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m, and Sunday - Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.