ALBANY PARK — The owner of a new Thai restaurant developed a love of food thanks to his mother’s cooking and now wants to share that passion with Albany Park neighbors.
Tony Sakmunwong opened Chim Thai Cuisine, 3254 W. Montrose Ave., at the end of last month with a menu focused on traditional Thai recipes.
“It’s not fusion. I have real Thai food for people to try,” Sakmunwong said. “We’re trying to offer home-style cooking you may not be able to get somewhere else.”
Sakmunwong took inspiration from his late mother’s cooking to create dishes like khao krapow gai kai dao — stir fried ground chicken prepared with chili, garlic, and holy basil leaves in a savory and sweet sauce served over rice with a Thai-style fried egg.
“Anyone who is Thai usually knows how to make it at home. It’s a simple Thai food. But I don’t always see it on the menu at other Thai restaurants,” Sakmunwong said. “My mom used to cook that for me all the time when I was a kid and that’s why I wanted to put it on the menu.”
Opening a restaurant had been on Sakmunwong’s mind for a long time. He was ready to move forward with his plan before COVID-19 hit Chicago in 2020, putting enormous strain on the restaurant and service industry.
The severe disruption to daily life at the start of the pandemic slowed down his plans to open because the uncertainty around the restaurant industry made him realize it wasn’t a good time to open, he said. But he said he realized waiting out the pandemic also wasn’t the right strategy.
“I saw a lot of businesses close down, but … I realized if I don’t open this now I may not ever do it,” Sakmunwong said. “So I decided to fulfill my dream and just go for it this year and see what happens.”
Sakmunwong said Albany Park appealed to him because of the neighborhood’s diversity. He said he likes the idea of adding his Thai restaurant to the variety of restaurants in the area.
“Chim means ‘taste.’ I want people to come and taste our food, which is why I chose that name in Thai. And the neighborhood has been good to me since I’ve opened. They’ve given us a lot of support,” he said.
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