>> Chicks Isan | Eat the World NYC

20 December 2018

Chicks Isan


It took a while, but I finally had a meal I enjoyed at the DeKalb Market Hall. It seemed to this point to be a place good people went to make underwhelming food... beloved arepa makers and burger chefs are here, but the versions just are not up to snuff. The other vendors I had tried to this point were just, well... uninteresting. Admittedly I only scratched the surface, but it was just a run of bad luck.

But Chicks Isan came to the rescue. They opened Monday and are still getting their legs under them, but signs are good. As of our visit, they had a limited menu of five dishes, and even one of those (nam khao tod) was unavailable. They plan to expand to their full menu as soon as possible, which includes interesting dishes like kai yang, naem si krong moo, and grilled pork cheeks.

In Thailand, it seems like most Thai people have made Isan food part of their lives, eating it at least once a week no matter which part of the country they live in. Isan restaurants are ubiquitous in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and points between.

What may have surprised me the most was the dish less associated with traditional Isan cooking, zaab wings ($9, above). "Zaab" is a word that translates into "tasty" or "delicious," but is only used when talking about Isan foods that contain a combination of fish sauce, lime, and plenty of chili. This gives you somewhat of a hint at what the marinade and spice dusting of the ample portion of fried wings is going to be like. Recommended.

The first bite of som tum thai ($10, above) did not wow, but as you progress and the chilis catch up to you it begins to find its way. The papaya seems to be cut fresh to order, as that famous "pok, pok" comes from the kitchen. As always, dishes like this have a ratio of fish sauce, lime, and sugar that has to be done just right and I think Chicks Isan will get this better as they get accustomed to daily operations.

The same can be said for the larb moo ($9, above), which has all the right components in it. This is a dish that cannot be eaten without sticky rice (what are you, some kind of monster?), so grab a side of that for $3. The portions are quite large for these last two dishes, the whole order and rice lasted two people for two meals.

Chicks Isan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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