Vong in Chicago
- JfromToronto Jun 6, 2006 05:05 PM
I went to Vong every time I was in Chicago. I just went there again yesterday and what a disappointment!!! The menu and food has changed totally, unfortunately, for the worse. The innovative and delicious dishes were all gone, and the new menu is just average at best, with ok execution. The only interesting item on the menu was the Tea Smoked Duck, but it was neither tasty nor worth the price. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME AT THAT RESTAURANT.
Wait a second...you cannot compare the current VTK (what they now call Vong's Thai Kitchen) with the original restaurant that started by Jean-George Vongerichten. The latter was an ultra high end dining experience. The new one is co-owned by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and is meant to be an inexpensive, causal Thai place that serves pretty traditional dishes. The restaurant makeover happened a few years ago.
I'm sure a lot of people would agree that VTK isn't as good as many other causal Thai places in town. That's fine. But it simply isn't fair to compare the current restaurant to the previous one -- literally the only thing they have in common is that they are Thai based and were named for the same guy.
This is so true. I remember when the change-over happened. I talked to some of the staff, because I noticed the place had become a lot more popular (I used to work around the corner), and they said their business had tripled. There was a decor change and what the restaurant biz calls a "re-concepting." It was obviously a purely marketing decision, and one that paid off. But I don't eat there anymore, either.
I think Luttuce Entertain You was involved from the start, but the original Vong was far more innovative and expensive. Nevertheless, VTK has kept some of the original dishes. It has a better wine list than most Thai restaurants. The decor is nice. Once you get over the dissapointment that it's not Vong any more, it can still be a nice place for lunch.
Personally, I had a mediocre experience at Vong in New York. Actually on the bottom of a long list of favorites from living in New York.
On a side note, I LOVE VTK. I think it is some of the better Thai in downtown area. The dishes are always very fresh and use a bit more diversity in ingredients.
VTK is pretty cheap too, so I can go there regularly for lunch. Service has been spotty from time to time, but I think it was a change for the better.
To me, VTK is to Thai food what Ben Pao is to Chinese Food -- i.e., way too Americanized and dumbed down -- and I guess that's not too surprising since they're both entries from Lettuce Entertain You.
And please don't anyone take this the wrong way, because I'm not criticizing the taste buds of anyone who likes the food at VTK . . . or Ben Pao for that matter. To say that a particular restaurant's cuisine has been "Americanized" is not the same thing as saying that the food is bad.
Although with respect to VTK, I did not like it one bit, and I tried it twice (after the conversion from Vong). Perhaps the worst part of the meal however was the waitress referring to the dessert containing maSCARpone cheese as containing "marCUSpone" cheese. Call me picky but if you're going to have an item on your menu, you better make sure the staff knows what it is.
And in my opinion, with all of the amazing Thai restaurants in Chicago serving food at 50% of the cost of Vong -- Spoon Thai, Sticky Rice, Elephant Thai, Arroy Thai, Thai Aree, etc. . . -- why bother with VTK.