It’s Ethan Lim’s Khmer bar food against your wolfish hunger at Monday Night Foodball
Earlier this summer, I sat down at one of the most exclusive tables in town. No, not Alinea. Never. It wasn’t The Crib, either, (RIP).
It was an eight-course blast at Hermosa, Ethan Lim’s little sandwich shop by day, a fixed-price “family meal” of six seats at night. Lim’s on-going nightly pop-up – in which he buries his guests in extravagant abundance – is the conceptual opposite of his daytime commitment to always asking Will It Sandwich? While you can still get his now legendary Cambodian Fried Chicken Sandwich by day, after dark you will likely be treated to the crunchy, herbal, spicy, birdy, crunchy, and served with sides of marinated papaya and Thai eggplant salad. This is only a middle ground. By the time the platters filled with rat tail noodles, black pepper ribeye lok lak, and Khmer-style porchetta hit the table, you’re desperate to locate just a corner of the digestive real estate so you can enjoy. frosted sugar, deep fried bananas that end the bacchanal evening.
Lim’s family meals are sold out until next summer, but in a few days he will be bringing bananas, eggplants, the OG CFC sandwich, and an otherwise new menu of Khmer-inspired bar fare to the Kedzie Inn. It’s the seventh week of Monday Night Foodball, the Reader weekly chef’s pop-up.
Marinated Thai eggplant, $ 10
Pork ribs with salted tamarind, peanuts, coriander, fennel, $ 15
Cambodian fried chicken sandwich, marinated papaya, long beans, $ 11
Charred Kroueng toast, eggplant spread, maitake, shishito, $ 11
Tots loaded, Prahok Ktiss, coconut cream, $ 12
Fried banana, $ 4
Lim also makes Salted Tamarind Caramel Pork Chops, toddlers loaded with coconut cream and prahok ktiss (aka Cambodian bolognese). It’s a shameless meaty menu, but it does cover plant eaters with a vegan toast topped with a spread of grilled eggplant and roasted vegetables, marinated in kroeung, the basic Khmer spice paste.
You can’t order these daytime or nighttime things from Hermosa, nor can you drink the evening drinks collaboration with Kedzie’s Jon Pokorny. This is an invigorating daiquiri made with the spirit of funky Javanese molasses and rice known as the Batavia arack. I’m going to call it “Lemongrass Arackuiri”.
Hurry before a bigger, stronger animal snatches it from your jaws. Lim is taking orders now, but as always, appointments are welcome and appreciated. Meet on Monday at 5 p.m.
4100 North Kedzie