Thai Potato Chips and a Secret Late-Night Congee Menu at Me Dee Cafe | Bleader

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thai Potato Chips and a Secret Late-Night Congee Menu at Me Dee Cafe

Posted By on 11.17.09 at 02:38 PM

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Ravenswood's Me Dee Cafe is an odd little place, a mere six tables squeezed between a wall of Thai snacks, a freezer full of mochi, and walls decorated with squabbling cartoon brats and troubled cows (a herd of bipedal, urinating bovines graces the wall in the loo). The main menu is loaded with inexpensive but decorously presented Ameri-Thai standards with hints of fusiony gimmickry such as a noodle dish tossed with fat disks of Polish sausage, grilled mushrooms with chihuahua cheese, and plates garnished with raspberry and blackberry gumdrops.

But there are a number of other things that make Me Dee far more intriguing than just that.


First, there's an unusually wide assortment of sweets—cheese cakes and mochi, a tangle of deep-fried banana, taro, and sweet potato slices, a trio of warm pandan-flavored Singapore cupcakes, as well as jellies and teas. But from the freezer, a smooth creamy lemongrass green tea ice cream was about as good as it got, as most of the other cold treats we tried were freezer burnt beyond edibility.

So until we paid up I was mostly excited about the half-dozen varieties of ruffled and flat Lay's brand Thai potato chips on sale, which I've been munching my way through ever since. Lay's rolls out culturally specific flavors all over the world (try the roast chicken next time you're in Canada). Thailand gets things like nori seaweed, hot chile squid, and Mexican barbecue, and Me Dee seems to carry the whole line except the unappealing-sounding mayonnaise. Extra barbecue and Mexican barbecue don't taste radically different than U.S. counterparts, while nori seaweed doesn't really distinguish itself. But the two seafood flavors are a bit sweet and not unpleasantly fishy, and my favorite, sweet basil, builds to an incendiary burn.

Me Dee also offers a late-night congee menu written exclusively in Thai, which we didn't discover until we were leaving. The owner hesitantly handed one over, explaining that we probably wouldn't like it. (We'll see about that.) Local linguist, cook, and world traveler Leela, who authors the beautiful and fascinating SheSimmers blog (bookmark it) was kind enough to translate the menu, which she says is a typical late-night/post boozing/clubbing restorative selection.

She writes:

"The way it works is, they give you plain rice porridge as the main dish and you can pick 4-5 sides to go with your plain congee. The translation is as follows:

Large congee $3/Small congee $1.50

*Slivers of dried sweet pickled turnips stir-fried with eggs $4.50
*Thin strips of pickled bok choy stir-fried with eggs $4.50
*Yam (rhymes with "some" - a Thai word referring to a melange of things tossed together in a dressing that comprises the salty, sour, sweet flavors with some heat, of course) salted duck eggs $4.50
*Ong choy, aka water spinach, stir-fried with fresh garlic, chile, and sometimes fermented black bean sauce $4.50
*Deep-fried (the word is not present in Thai, but understood) plaa salid (that has been salted and dried) $5
*Crabmeat Khai Jiaw (Thai omelet) $5
*Yam Chinese Sausage (aka Lap Cheong) $5
*Gai Lan stir-fried with flakes of salted fish (mostly cod or halibut) $5
*Stir-fry of minced Chinese olives and ground chicken $5
*(Homemade?) "Sweet Fish" — fish fillets pounded thin, candied, dried, deep-fried, and cut into strips $5
*Spicy clam stir-fry (I guess with holy basil leaves?) $5
*Yam dried shrimp $5
*Deep-fried seasoned dried pork $5

Thanks, Leela.

Me Dee Cafe, 4805 N. Damen, 773-989-4444

Me Dees secret congee menu
  • Me Dee's secret congee menu

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