The best Chicago chef whose food you've eaten without ever knowing his name (or even that there was a particular chef behind your dinner) could quite possibly be Andy Aroonrasameruang, who learned his trade at Banana Leaf but has spent about the last decade at TAC (Thai Authentic Cuisine) Quick. More than perhaps anyone else in the city, he's brought the bright and eye-opening true flavors of Thai food to non-Thai Chicagoans, and a cult following on Chowhound and LTHForum soon spread to surprisingly general knowledge that TAC Quick was the place in a city full of Thai spots.
Part of the reason for this was that where other authentic Thai restaurants kept the Thai dishes on their own, non-English menu, Andy's specials board at TAC Quick was an easy guide to current authentic dishes coming from his kitchen such as roti kaeng karii neau, crispy en choy, or deep fried holy basil with minced chicken and preserved eggs. The other reason was that, simply, for around $8.95 a big dish, you got food that blew a lot of $100 per person joints away.
Which brings us to a momentous change in the Chicago food world: per LTHForum, Andy has left TAC Quick and Sunday will bring the opening of his own new restaurant, ATK (Andy's Thai Kitchen) at 946 W. Wellington (a former Sushi & Noodles, which is to say, generic is being replaced with sui generis). In a statement on LTHForum, Andy says:
I would love to send you this regard and say thank you so much for you best support while I was operating Tac Quick for over 9 years. It is the best time to move forward and start the new business and new life. The new restaurant will be still focusing on real authentic Thai food. And I promise to bring you more of an interesting and flavorful Thai in the year to come.
We will have more as his new restaurant opens and we get to know its menu, but in the meantime, we hope this means that the number of exceptional Thai restaurants in town has increased by one, and that TAC Quick can maintain the standard that he brought to it for many years while ATK takes him in new directions.