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Ask Chicagoist: River Kwai -- All Dried Up?

By Sarah in Miscellaneous on Aug 3, 2005 1:05PM

pad thai.jpg

Dear Ask Chicagoist,

At Belmont/Paulina, there was a long standing and much loved late-nite restaurant known as River Kwai. After 11 pm or so, the line would stretch out the door. Then, about two weeks ago, I noticed a huge orange sticker placed by the City on the window that this place has been indefinitely shut down--and peering inside it appears that the whole place has been gutted.

What gives? Did the city shut this place down due to hygiene? Building code violation? There was a notice on the door to email for more info, but I had not received a response. Moreover, there is no info available on the City's food license site. Can you crack this mystery, and help hundreds of late-night revelers understand and cope with the loss of their beloved River Kwai?


Every once in a while, Chicagoist's life gets Very Easy, even for just a moment. Like when our friends call and say, "congrats on your new apartment--let me know when I can help you move your stuff!", or when someone drops in at the Ask Chicagoist offices with the gooey chocolate brownie that we were craving 5 minutes earlier. But, dear readers, these moments are rare and should be duly cherished. Life becomes especially precious when someone asks us to crack a mystery, and then proceeds to crack it himself!

Our friend M.B. wrote about the River Kwai, after having done 90% nearly all of the investigation. We asked around a bit, but kept going out for Thai food, since it is nearly impossible to talk about Thai food without slipping out for a spicy pad see ew with tofu. Anyway, stuffed after lunch, we got another update from Investigator M.B., who finally submitted an email from the restaurant owners:

Hello M____. Sorry for being so late with this reply. We had to close down because the building was not up to code. We would have to make major repairs which we cannot afford right now. We wish we could open up again. But unfortunately we cannot. We are very sorry for this. Please tell everyone you know that eats there or if you see them outside the restaurant to email to this address []. thank you for your time!

Another mystery solved, dear readers! After all that excruciating effort on our part, we're ready for a steamed veg spring roll, and perhaps a mango-licious dessert. M.B., we realize this news must be devastating; may we treat you to a syrupy-sweet Thai Iced Coffee for all your efforts?

Has your favorite eatery vanished? Craving green curry tofu? Need some advice? Email Ask(at)Chicagoist(dot)com.

Thanks to for the pad thai snapshot!