The Cambodian Fried Chicken Sandwich Credit: Ethan Lim

Earlier this summer I sat down to one of the most exclusive tables in town. No, not Alinea. Not Ever. Nor was it The Crib, (RIP).

It was an eight-course blowout at Hermosa, Ethan Lim’s tiny sandwich shop by day, six-seat “Family Meal” prix fixe by night. Lim’s ongoing nocturnal pop-up—during which he buries his guests in extravagant abundance—is the conceptual opposite of his diurnal commitment to always be asking Will It Sandwich? While you can still get his now legendary Cambodian Fried Chicken sandwich by day, after dark you’re likely to be treated to the entire crunchy, herbal, spicy, bird, disarticulated and served with sides of pickled papaya salad and Thai eggplant. That’s only the middle course. By the time the heaping platters of rat tail noodles, black pepper ribeye lok lak, and Khmer-style porchetta hit the table, you’re desperate to locate just a corner of digestive real estate so you can enjoy the sugar-frosted, deep-fried bananas that bring the evening to its bacchanalian close.

Lim’s Family Meals are fully booked until next summer, but in a few days he’s bringing the bananas, eggplant, the OG CFC sandwich, and an otherwise novel menu of Khmer-inspired bar food to the Kedzie Inn. It’s week seven of Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up.

Pickled Thai Eggplant, $10

Salted Tamarind Pork Ribs, Peanuts, Coriander, Fennel, $15

Cambodian Fried Chicken Sandwich, Pickled Papaya, Long Beans, $11

Charred Kroueng Toast, Eggplant Spread, Maitake, Shishito, $11

Loaded Tots, Prahok Ktiss, Coconut Cream, $12

Fried Banana, $4

Lim’s also doing salted tamarind caramel pork riblets, tots loaded with coconut cream and prahok ktiss (aka Cambodian Bolognese). It’s an unapologetically meaty menu, but he has the plant eaters covered with a vegan toast topped with charred eggplant spread and roasted vegetables, marinated in kroeung, the fundamental Khmer spice paste.

Salted Tamarind Caramel Riblets. Credit: Ethan Lim

You can’t order those things by day or by night at Hermosa, nor can you quaff the evening’s beverage collab with the Kedzie’s Jon Pokorny. It’s a bracing daiquiri made with the funky Javanese rice and molasses spirit known as Batavia arrack. I’m going to call it “the Lemongrass Arrackuiri.”

Hurry before a bigger, stronger animal snatches it from your jaws. Lim’s taking orders now, but as always walk-ins are welcomed and cherished. See you at 5 PM Monday.

Kedzie Inn
4100 N. Kedzie
(773) 293-6368

Loaded Tots Credit: Ethan Lim