Ethnic Food in the NE Suburbs?
I live in the area, so here are a few recs:
Woo Lae Oak (on Algonquin Road in Rolling Meadows) is a higher-end Korean restaurant (they have several locations internationally). While it is more expensive than most Korean places (though not really "expensive" in the grand scheme), it is also much more elegant and with generally better service, although some of the staff don't speak English very well. Famous for their Bibim Nang Myun (cold buckwheat noodles with vinegary/spicy sauce) . They also have some elaborate set dinners, which aren't translated in the menu, so you'll need to ask. Tabletop grills are available, too.
There is a brand-new Malaysian restaurant, Penang, on the same street. We thought the food was good, but way overpriced for the area ($6 for a beer and $20-something for shrimp entrees--"city" prices). I think they will get a lot of resistance from the locals at those prices...but the food was quite tasty. Worth a visit, however, because it's good and quite different than what else is around here.
There are many Thai restaurants in the area (in nearby downtown Arlington Heights alone, there are three). Most are good, but none are particularly noteworthy (compared to the best ones in the city of Chicago). I like Bangkok Cafe in Arlington Heights.
Nobu's Japanese Restaurant (not, not the one of "Iron Chef" fame) in nearby Schaumburg is quite good and reasonably priced. Sushi, noodles and most of the usual mom-n-pop Japanese restaurant dishes, but generally executed better than other places in the area. I am extremely particular about my sushi and this is one of the very few places in the area that has consistently delivered a top-quality product (albeit just your basic non-trendy, non-exotic stuff). But the fish is fresh and cut properly and the rice is correct.
Yu's Mandarin (on Golf Road, east of Roselle Road) is an extremely popular Chinese/Korean restaurant (mostly Chinese, but there are Korean-style dishes on the non-English menu). They make some of their noodles in-house (the Peking noodles are a personal fave) and also have really great live Dungeness crab when in season. The restaurant is also notably cleaner than most Chinese places in the area (they have a glassed-in open kitchen)...the grunge factor is distressingly high at many of the nearby places, including some of my formerly-favorite spots.
Most of the Mexican food in the area is dismissable, although Fuego in Arlington Heights is several notches above the others I've been to. I've heard great things about a Mexican seafood place called Flamingo (not too far from R.M.), but haven't tried it.