Aroy ThaiAddress: 4654 N. Damen Avenue
I used to be that person who always orders the same thing because I like a safe bet. But now that I live in the 60625 zip code, I decided I needed to take more culinary risks. My mid-year resolution was rewarded at Aroy Thai restaurant, 4654 N. Damen Ave., where they serve up typical-but-tasty noodle and curry dishes along with some northern specialties that will awaken your senses.
The trick is to ask for the second menu (if you don’t already have it), which is full of exotic phrases like “burst fishtrap soup” ($9) and Phat Phrik Khing Muu Krawp (green beans and crispy pork with green beans stir-fried in ginger and chili paste for $10).
I broke out of my crab-rangoon-pad-thai habit and ordered the Phrik Kaeng fish curry ($10), along with Somtam Pu ($7), one version of green papaya salad that comes with pickled crab and deep fried pork rinds. It took a few bites to get used to the bold flavors, but soon I found myself going back for more. I am already looking forward to my lunchtime leftovers.
For my next visit I have already vowed to try the Pad Thai Woon Sen (stir fried bean thread noodles with shrimp, egg, peanuts and bean sprouts for $9.50),which lost out to the fish during my last visit. Eventually I will work my way up to fermented bamboo, preserved duck eggs and fish balls. At these prices (I didn’t see anything over $10), I can afford to be adventurous.
Not ready to take the plunge into the second menu? Well, I’m happy to report that the regular menu of usual Thai suspects does not disappoint. Appetizers such egg rolls and pot stickers (both $5) are full of fresh ingredients and not overly greasy. The beef and broccoli ($8) was surprising memorable. Aroy is hassle-free BYOB, and the family-run operation is tidy but not glamorous. What they lack in décor they make up for with friendly and patient service.