TLO Restaurant Review: Tana Thai Bistro
1:47 PM EST on February 6, 2024
A few years ago, Tana Thai Bistro – 10700 N. May Ave. in the northern fringe of The Village – was on my short list of local restaurants to review.
Unfortunately, the week I was going to review it, I had a massive stroke—my third!—that, unfortunately, left me both tired and Thai-less.
But, with renewed vim and vigor, I have reclaimed (most) of my life, so I finally broke bad and went to sample this oft-mentioned and suggested Thai eatery and to taste their delectable entrees, albeit critically.
Venturing out for a reasonable-sounding double date, my girlfriend and I showed up on a lively Saturday night. In a shopping center near the defunct Winchell’s Donuts—you remember the one!—we arrived fifteen minutes early and already the place was popping.
If you haven't been, Tana is small and compact, taking advantage of as much of its tiny space as possible. We were quickly seated by an open table near the lonely front, which allowed the frigid temperatures to reach us with each mobile food delivery driver's swing of the doors.
With my mouth drying on account of the weather, I ordered a cool drink, the Thai Iced Tea ($3.00).
According to the menu, it’s a Thai favorite with sweetened condensed milk. There's nothing condensed with the flavor, though, as it really wet my whistle while I ordered my dinner along with my agreeable party.
After some light small talk about the news of the world, our blessed starter arrived – the Fried Calamari and Tentacle ($7.00).
The eight crispy fried calamari rings and assorted tentacles tasted a bit like seasoned, textured pieces of rubber-tubing, which when dipped in Thai-style cocktail sauce, tasted pretty good! I truly liked it, and the whole thing went fast.
Sticking to the bodies of water theme, my girlfriend ordered the Salmon Basil Stir-Fry ($13.00) for her main course – a semi-aquatic journey with a crispy salmon cut topped with stir-fried onions, bell peppers, green beans, and mushrooms in a light spicy Thai garlic sauce.
What wonders came out of the Tana kitchen!
Surprisingly, the usual bites of typical salmon were amped up with a beautiful crispy texture. It, along with the onions, bell peppers, and Thai garlic sauce, made love with our taste buds, providing an exceptional, semi-orgasmic dining experience.
For my dinner, I went a different route and tried the raucous tofu-drenched Green Curry ($11.00) – a mix of eggplants, red bell peppers, and bamboo shoots simmered in a spicy green curry sauce that is absolute fire.
Yes, you bet your ass it’s spicy!
Near wild heaven, the taste of the very-specific curry melded well with the robust flavor of the red bell peppers, the always-symmetrical tofu, and the other chunky fixins. When combined with the tongue-numbing heat (level 4, they say), it sent me on a voyage down the Mekong – one for which I didn't want to return.
As sweat drifted off my brow, I considered a dessert to cool down, but my taste buds were joyously damaged, and the front door then swung open to provide some of the cool relief I so desperately needed.
Overall, I see why Tana Thai is frequently suggested. The food and hospitality were great, and totally worth the internal scarring.
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