Jin Thai, Herb in Edgewater offer unique, authentic Thai food

Sunday, February 1, 2015
Jin Thai, Herb in Edgewater offer unique, authentic Thai food
Jin Thai and Herb in Edgewater - just a block apart - are both serving some truly unique Thai dishes.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- You can find pad thai and chicken curry in just about every Thai restaurant in the region.

But there are a pair of Thai restaurants in Edgewater - just a block apart - serving some truly unique dishes.

Beef stock, sliced beef shoulder, a smattering of bean sprouts, watercress and rice noodles are just the beginning to a proper bowl of boat noodles. At Jin Thai in Edgewater, Thai ex-pats come for the bracing bowl of soup pretty much every day in the winter.

"Boat noodle, originally, we serve in the canals in Thailand when I was a kid," said Chai Roongseang, owner of Jin Thai.

The soup can be doctored-up with Thai chilies, fish sauce, vinegar and even crispy pork skin. But the key here - and the reason you don't see it on a lot of menus around town - is the addition of beef blood, which, along with the chiles, vinegar and garlic, helps fortify the soup.

"Because it makes that soup tastier and thicker," he said.

Just down the block, Herb is attempting to re-define Thai food by going a tad more upscale in presentation. One of their typical starters is miang kham, a dish as common in Thailand as a hot dog in Chicago.

"Very important dish in Thailand and very popular. It's like street food," said Herb's owner Patty Neumson.

A betelnut leaf serves as a base and wrapper for a host of ingredients: toasted coconut; a peanut; fresh shallots; fresh ginger; sliced lime; tiny, lethal Thai chiles; dried shrimp; and a tablespoon of palm sugar to round it out. The combo of sweet, salt, spice and bitter is pure Thai, and it's meant to be eaten in one bite.

"And we have so many small little dishes to eat all together at one time," she said.

Thais know it well, of course, but even newcomers are taking to it fast.

"When they come back, they ask for it too. They love it," Neumson said.

Both are two unique dishes you're only going to find in a handful of Thai restaurants in the city - and they are both on the same block, which makes being adventurous kind of convenient.

There are obviously a lot more than just those two dishes between the two restaurants. But it's recommended that you eat them there and not get them to-go to ensure optimal temperature.

Jin Thai

5458 N. Broadway




5424 N. Broadway