Chicago Eats: JJ Thai Street Food | chicago foodie girl


Chicago Eats: JJ Thai Street Food

Located along a bustling stretch of Chicago Ave. in West Town (one of my favorite foodie areas in the city!), JJ Thai Street Food is a small BYOB restaurant specializing in food found in Thailand’s streets and markets. Unlike numerous other Thai restaurants in Chicago that serve a hybrid of Thai and Chinese cuisines in order to appeal to a wider American audience, JJ's focuses on offering traditional and authentic Thai recipes under the leadership of Chef and owner Jiranya Thosatheppitak.

Back when I was on my mission to find my go-to neighborhood Thai spot, I turned to my IG peeps to gather all the recommendations. Hands down, JJ Thai Street Food came back as the number place to try. While it's not in my neighborhood, so many people raved about it (with so much passion!) that I made a point to add it to my must-try list. Thank goodness I did because one trip was all it took to keep me traveling halfway across the city for their fantastic food again, and again!

Peek Gai Tod: fried marinated chicken wings served with house spicy sauce. This is one of Mario's (aka my other half) go-to orders and one of his favorite versions of Thai chicken wings! Unlike many Thai dishes, these wings don't have a high heat level, but they do pack an intense flavor punch. They're light and crispy with a bit of sweet, salty, and umami in every bite – you might even end up skipping the sauce, as they already have such a great amount of flavor.

Pla Muk Yang: grilled squid served with Thai spicy seafood sauce. Speaking of go-to dishes, JJ's version of grilled squid is one of my all-time favorites! The squid is lightly charred and smokey and has the perfect texture (soft, tender, and not overly chewy). The sauce is zingy and salty with a nice amount of heat from the red chili and herbs. It's a perfect dish for those who love grilled squid and newbies you're looking to convert!

Look Shin Gai Ping: homemade grilled chicken meatballs on skewers served with sweet tamarind sauce. Widely known as Chef Jina's favorite menu item and the perpetual crowd favorite at our local Thai food festivals, these meatballs are meat, juicy, and utterly addictive! Not only am I a fan of meat on a stick (it's just fun to eat!), but also I love the signature sweet, tart, and tangy tamarind sauce.

Khao Panaeng Neua: traditional stewed Panang beef curry served over Thai jasmine rice. Admittedly, this isn't the most photogenic dish, but what it lacks in sexiness, it more than makes up for in deliciousness. This heavily aromatic and hearty red curry is salty and sweet with a lovely nutty flavor, a bit of heat, and the perfect amount of herbs. It is pure comfort food, and one of those dishes that you cannot stop eating!

Khao Lard Ka Praw Gai: stir-fried ground chicken with basil, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and Thai chili peppers served over Thai jasmine rice. While this popular dish can be found at practically any Thai restaurant, JJ's version is particularly nicely done, as the savory, sweet, and spicy elements are all extremely well balanced and not at all oily. As the food is all made to order, you also have the ability to customize the heat level – I usually order the regular level, but you can get it all the way up to extra spicy (beware: when they say extra spicy, they really mean it!).

You can try all of this deliciousness and more at JJ's Thai Street Food: 1715 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL.

JJ's Thai Street Food is a Thai SELECT Certified restaurant. Thai SELECT is a certification program funded by the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand. For restaurants to bear a Thai SELECT certificate, their menus must be comprised of at least 60 percent of dishes considered to be authentic: the restaurants employ the same or similar cooking methods as in Thailand and may import ingredients from Thailand as well. Currently, there are 542 restaurants in the U.S. that are certified with this distinction. For more information, please visit Thai SELECT.

Disclosure: I received compensation to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.

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