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The Complex Flavors of Simply Thalia

By John DiGilio in Food on Dec 23, 2010 7:30PM

2010_12_DiGilio_Thalia2.jpgBeyond the standard purveyors of salads and veggie sandwiches, finding more exotic and exciting vegetarian lunch choices downtown can be a challenge. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those choices. Sometimes, Simply Thalia to the food court at Block 37, deciding where to have a more inspiring veggie lunch just got a little less difficult.

The philosophy behind the menu at Simply Thalia is, well, simple: "Simply healthy, simply fresh, simply delicious." About the only thing that is not simple about this petite restaurant is the complex array of flavors they are serving up. The Satay Tofu Bunh Mi has everything you expect to find in this traditional Vietnamese sandwich - fresh vegetables, pickled daikon, French bread. What makes it stand out, however, is the flavorful peanut sauce with which it is dressed. It gives the bunh mi a tasty, little kick. The Thalia Bimbim Bop with its fried egg, spinach, rice, and sprouts is flavored with a special house sauce that adds a nice, peppery twist to the restaurant's take on a Korean-inspired favorite. It too can be made with tofu rather than the usual beef. Simply Thalia has a way of preparing its tofu that leaves it firm and "meaty" - a nice step up from the usual custard-like texture found in so many other restaurants.

Simply Thalia is owned and operated by the same folks behind the popular Thalia Spice in River West. Like its larger sibling, the focus of the menu here is Asian fusion. The menu features an eclectic mix of dishes, from noodle and rice bowls to sushi, sandwiches, and sweets. There are soups and salads to round out the offerings. The items on the lunch menu can even be ordered "bento" style for a true Japanese-style grab and go experience. The only downside to Simply Thalia is that it has a small dining room. So if you plan to eat in, get there before the lunch rush fills it up.

Simply Thalia is located at 108 North State Street in the pedway of Block 37.