Serai | Logan Square | Asian | Restaurant

Serai Menu Image

Hours: Lunch: Saturday-Sunday; dinner: Sunday, Tuesday-Saturday
Closed Monday
Open late: Friday & Saturday till 11

Price: $$

Southeast Asian cuisine, including authentic traditional Malaysian dishes.

Restaurant Details

The city hasn't been host to a true Malaysian restaurant in the eight years since Chinatown's Penang literally went up in smoke. Logan Square's Serai may traffic in pretenders like crab Rangoon and mango chicken, but it still has a lot of Malaysian food on the menu, representing that syncretic blend of Indian, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, British, Dutch, Portuguese, and native influences. And it's good enough to skip a long trip out to Penang in Arlington Heights or Asian Noodle House in Hoffman Estates whenever you get a hankering for curry laksa, char koay teow, or Hainanese chicken and rice. Serai does all of those Malaysian classics and more, and it does them quite a lot better than its suburban competitors. The aforementioned chicken-and-rice dish originated with southern Chinese immigrants but was adapted all over southeast Asia. And yet a decent version is hard to come by in Chicago. Serai may have captured the lead in that arena by offering a boiled and blanched bird with flabby, fatty skin, hacked and arrayed on the plate with a garlicky, gingery sauce and the all-important rice, infused with the richness of the bird's boiling medium. Who performs that crucial last step anywhere else in town? Other worthy benchmarks of Malaysian cuisine include the Indian-style roti pratha, shreds of soft and crispy coconut-scented flatbread meant to be dipped in a thick, sweet red curry with potatoes and chicken. There's char koay teow, wide, flat noodles that carry the proverbial "breath of the wok" smokiness, tossed with tensile shrimp and squid and seasoned with sweet soy and chile. And there's nasi goreng, fried rice with the pungent shrimp paste belacan, tempered by the wok's heat to produce a satisfying background funk, and crowned by a crispy whole omelet with a creamy interior.

Mike Sula

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Price: $$

Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, Discover

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