Ghin Khao Eat Rice serving up Northern Thai street food in Pilsen

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thai restaurants in Chicago usually have the same kinds of dishes: curries and noodle dishes, like pad thai, are everywhere.

But a new restaurant in Pilsen is taking a different approach, by only making the dishes reminiscent of Northern Thai style street food snacks and other home-cooked dishes.

Salads and grilled dishes are typical on the streets of Thailand, so it's no surprise when a Thai cook, who grew up with mom's home cooking, wants to replicate those honest flavors.

When nothing is toned down for tourists and the chilies, fish sauce and lime juice are turned up to full volume, that's when things start to get interesting.

Chilies and garlic, the basis for many delicious Thai dishes, are pounded into submission, then combined with dried shrimp, crunchy green beans and a mound of thinly-shredded green papaya, for what will eventually become som tom, one of Thailand's best-known dishes from the Northeast. At Ghin Khao Eat Rice - on a stretch of Cermak in Pilsen loaded with mostly taquerias - the owner is trying to replicate those honest dishes, prepared as if they were for family.

"Growing up in a Thai household with my mom and family, that's what we ate. Mostly just northern Thai food," said Nova Sasi, the Chef and Owner of Ghin Khao Eat Rice.

Sasi says it's one of the reasons he opted not to offer curry or pad thai.

"When I go to Thailand, I don't really eat those things. I mean the curry is delicious, pad thai is the national dish, but there's other dishes I enjoy here too as well," he said.

Dishes like nam tok. Grilled pork shoulder that's been marinated in dark and light soy and oyster sauce, it's sliced on an angle, then combined with loads of Thai ingredients.

"Lime, fish sauce, mint, a lot of herbs, cilantro, scallions, toasted rice powder," he said.

Those bring out the sweet, salty, spicy and bitter notes of all great Thai dishes. The same applies to his som tom.

"There's a lot of different som toms out there in Thailand, I just do the traditional one," said Sasi.

Isaan is located in Northeastern Thailand; it's not only the origin for som tom, but also a special sausage he buys from a Thai lady who happens to make them just like home.

"Isaan sausage is a Northern sausage. I like it because of the taste. It's a sour taste, comes from fermentation and it's just delicious," he said.

Sasi says he hopes guests will appreciate the flavors of his childhood, and are fine with a menu that's limited, in part, due to the limitations of his tiny kitchen.

"I just wanna specialize in a few dishes and don't want to overwhelm people with a lot of things."

In Steve's Extra Course Video, he takes a look at one of the restaurant's dessert options: mango with sweet, sticky rice.
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In Steve's Extra Course Video, he takes a look at one of the restaurant's dessert options: mango with sweet, sticky rice.

Ghin Khao Eat Rice
2128 W. Cermak Rd.
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