Sunday, December 19, 2010

Arun's and Violet Hour

Arun's Thai
4156 N Kedzie
Chicago, IL 60618
12 course chef designed degustationThere was no printed menu and I opted to enjoy the wine pairings with this meal. You'll note the dish descriptions get progressively shorter, but the fact I was able to decipher this much of Arun's complicated menu was a total shock to me!
  • Bite sized salad of Betel Nut leaf, ginger, shallot, lime, peanuts, toasted coconut, red chilies, and coconut tamarind sauce
  • Traditional Thai spring roll, Dungeness crab, tofu, cucumber, bean sprout, shiso, and hot mustard
  • Steamed rice dumpling, minced chicken, shrimp, jicama, with sweet and sour tomato vinaigrette.
  • Pork Larb with Chaing Mai spices, roasted red poblano, cucumber, and cilantro
  • Rice noodle fried shrimp, pink vermicelli, tofu, cucumber, bean sprouts, egg crepe, lemon, chives
  • Spicy Rice noodle soup with essences of anise, pork belly, smoked egg, and tofu.
  • Crispy fried snapper with sweet and spicy sauce and carved carrot fish
  • Sea Scallop with kabocha chili sauce and asparagus plank
  • Panang curry beef with coconut milk and fresh herbs
  • Spicy Chicken with holy basil and zucchini
  • Sweet sticky rice phyllo package with banana and hard candy
  • Okra Blossom and Lychee Sorbet with ginger baked pear
Leif's experience with Leadership Greater Chicago has been incredibly rewarding already and now that the group has bonded they have started to arrange gatherings outside of regular LGC events and that means I get to go along! Last night the "dining club" came together to enjoy dinner at Arun's Thai. Talk about a simple statement that can ratchet up diners' expectations into the stratosphere...Arun's is listed among the 1000 places to see (eat) before you die. Did it live up to the hype?
I would have to say yes.
After considering the heavy handed compliments that have been paid to this establishment over the years, I tamped down my expectations slightly and reminded myself that consistency should be celebrated. Each and every dish we enjoyed was solidly grounded in near flawless technique. The company and the carved carrot fish were both first rate! The betel nut leaf appetizer, noodle soup, shrimp, and sweet sticky rice were all exceptional, but and couple of the appetizers and the family style entrees seemed to fall just a little flat. The wine pairings were thoughtful and effective, and while at times a little rushed, the staff was knowledgeable and kind. We were, after all, a party of nearly 20 and considering that yields 240 artfully presented portions over a three hour dinner, I'd say both the kitchen and front of the house staff held it together quite well. I've never had Thai cuisine elevated to that level in my life and that simple fact cemented Arun's solidly on my long list of most memorable meals.

Following our dinner we all headed over to the East Village home of another LGC fellow and his wife. They won a private party on Facebook sponsored by Ketel One vodka. The event included the services of a mixologist from The Violet Hour, a security guard, catering, and free transportation for all guests within 25 miles. It was just insane. I had some yummy grapefruit tequila elderflower thing and a ride home in the Ketel One Car!
What an incredible evening!

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