What’s cooking in and around Chicago? Here’s a look at one of the region’s delicious dishes that you can’t miss.
When Chinh Pham and Son Do moved to Chicago a few years ago, the Vietnamese couple were disappointed that they couldn’t find a restaurant that they felt was an appropriate representation of their country’s culture.
So, Pham and Do decided to bring the flavors of their hometown of Ho Chi Minh City to Chicago, by opening Sochi Saigonese Kitchen in Lake View earlier this year. The menu offers traditional Vietnamese cuisine, with some elevated interpretations of classic dishes.
The wife-husband duo, who met while studying business at university, have no formal culinary training. But they are self-proclaimed foodies and have spent years traveling the world trying new cuisines. Pham said she learned to cook from her mother.
Every day for their first five years in the United States, Pham and Do cooked home meals they hoped would one day be on the menu at their dream restaurant.
When Sochi Saigonese’s cuisine started to become a reality, the couple knew there was one dish in particular they needed to include: Shake Beef. It’s a traditional dish from their hometown, which is still known as Saigon by locals, Pham said. It was a childhood favorite for both of them.
Growing up in poverty, Pham and Do said shaking beef was the type of meal they ate when their families had money to splurge on a meal.
“It’s the dish we all want to have because it’s so good, but it’s expensive,” Pham said and Do agreed. “This is why we have such fond memories of it,” she added.
Pham said they tried to stick with the traditional dish. The beef tenderloin is cut into 2-inch cubes and rests in a marinade including oyster sauce and pepper for at least three hours. When the steak is ready, it is fried over high heat.
“The concept of this dish is to try and keep the original flavor of the beef,” she said. “But at the same time, you want to improve it a bit, make it tastier by using it like the flame to burn the outside of the meat.”
Meanwhile, the melted bone marrow is mixed with roasted garlic and thyme. It goes into the fried rice, which is also mixed with ketchup, Do said.
The dish is “very simple,” Pham said, but it makes for a tasty meal. “The bottom line is that when you eat it with a little fried garlic and then the rice itself with the ketchup and beef seasoning, it’s a really good combination,” she added.
Sochi Saigonese Kitchen, 1358 W. Belmont Ave. Shake beef costs $ 32. https://www.sochikitchen.com
Do you have a favorite dish from a Chicago-area restaurant? Let us know by e-mail at: [email protected]