The first time I went to the northern-Thai-focused Sticky Rice it was by chance. The half-dozen return visits in the next month? Those were intentional. A wonder cabinet of Thai food, Sticky Rice, run by a charming and very patient staff, is endlessly interesting and cheap enough to serve as your substitute kitchen. Their standard English-language menu would be novel enough, with things like deep-fried quail and shrimp on sugarcane, but thanks to a translation of the lengthy Thai-language menu, the options are almost inexhaustible. I've only excavated a tiny quadrant of both menus, but among the standouts are banana blossom salad, Burmese-style curry, duck curry with lychees, and northern Thai larb (made with ground pork and intestine). The only real problem with Sticky Rice is that it's so hard to relinquish these known pleasures for unknowns. But be bold: you can't spend your whole life eating jellyfish salad, after all. Also, for those interested in real grub: with dishes like fried worms and ant-egg omelet, Sticky Rice is your Chicagoland insect-eating destination.
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