Dining

Sour Power

Lincoln Square's Rainbow is a hidden Thai gem

Even the roaring fire in our mouth couldn’t stop us from returning to the plate of phla kung, Thai prawn salad, at Rainbow Cuisine.

Comprising barely-cooked shrimp tangled with slivered lemongrass, scallions, red onions, cilantro and mint ($8), the salad is dressed with red-hued sauce at once fiery, sour and sweet.

The miniscule storefront in Lincoln Square, run by the former chef of nearby Spoon, holds only a dozen seats. You’ll want to occupy at least one-third of them, as this is a menu filled with more treasures than two diners can handle in a single sitting.

House-made sai krog i-san ($8) is one of the finest versions of the Northern Thai ground-pork-and-rice sausage in town, brashly garlicky and boldly sour from its extended fermentation.

Hunks of another fermented pork sausage, naem, are buried in a pile of superlative nam khao tod ($8; pictured). The Laotian salad of crisped rice, ginger, onions, peanuts and cilantro is the stuff of which fierce addictions are made.

All of the above dishes are from Rainbow’s Thai menu, which holds dozens of options not on its regular menu. From the latter, we ordered pad see eiw ($7), but with a twist: Ask for it crispy, and the wide rice noodles will arrive fresh from the deep fryer, and exceptionally crunchy.

Rainbow Cuisine 4825 N. Western Ave. Chicago IL 60625 773-754-7660

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