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Sticky Rice Impresses

By Minna A in Food on Nov 11, 2011 7:00PM

Quietly dominating the corner of Western and Irving Park is a Northern Thai foodie favorite, Sticky Rice. With an expansive menu of more than 100 items, navigating the entire list can be a cumbersome task, but it gets easy when you focus on the the highlights: the 20 items in the Northern Thai section.

Sticky rice is not only the restaurant's eponymous side dish, it's also a staple for many of the entrée choices. In Thai traditions, sticky rice can be mixed with coconut milk, sugar and other flavors to create a sweet dessert, or it can be formed into conical shapes for religious festival and ceremonies. At Sticky Rice, the deceptively small and compact rice is served in a short, stout woven basket and truly is sticky, with a hint of sweetness, just as the name implies.

Don't leave without ordering the Northern Thai sausage appetizer. The sausages are filled with spicy, exotic flavors, and diners have the option to add cilantro, bamboo shoots, red cabbage or all three for a full array of fragrant delights. Each order is only $2 and two orders easily serves a party of four people.

The Gang Kae soup is a cold-weather favorite, packed with bright flavored veggies like basil, baby corn and other vegetables in a hearty, spicy red broth that is uniquely Thai. If that heat and spice is not your cup of tea, Gang Hung Lay is a semi-sweet, savory dish with a funny name but intense flavor. Tender pork is slow cooked in garlic and ginger with subtle hints of red curry.

Don't just order pad thai over and over again! Venture away from your normal Thai favorites and make a trek to Sticky Rice to try the unique flavors of Northern Thai cuisine. Sticky Rice is open seven days a week and is BYOB. Don’t be deterred by the long lines, as seating is usually friendly and prompt.

Sticky Rice is located at 4018 N. Western Ave.