Siew yok curry mee, Kedai Tapao

Annnnd we’re back . . .

Last January when the couple behind Malaysian pop-up Kedai Tapao took an extended winter break to visit the folks back in Kuala Lumpur, Jennifer Pou-Alesi spent her first week quarantined in the comfort of her old bedroom, eating home cooking and tapao (“takeout”) of her street hawker favorites (roti canai, curry mee, kai si hor fun). Meanwhile, Mike Alesi had to wait it out on the island of Langkawi, where foreigners do their time before going loose in the rest of the country.

At least he was free to roam, sampling every variety of nasi campur he could find on the island. That all changed when the couple reunited for two months of intensive eating and low-key R & D. “There were no notebooks,” says Pou-Alesi. “We were just trying to be present for family.”

Nasi lemak ayam berempah, Kedai Tapao

I wish I could say I’ve eaten as well in the last three and a half weeks, but it’s been a lot of dispiriting keto-friendly energy bars from the Sweets and Snacks Expo. That’s how long it’s been since we took a spring break from Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up at the Kedzie Inn.

It was a dark time, late May, the memory of which I’m looking forward to erasing over a steaming bowl of siew yok curry mee when Kedai Tapao returns to the Kedzie to inaugurate our summer season this Monday, June 6.

Jenn and Mike, who are both back at work at Lula Cafe, were our second guests last August when Kedzie owner Jon Pokorny and I launched MNF. But apart from fish crackers (always), and their signature curry puffs, they’re throwing down a whole new menu, headlined by the aforementioned double noodle curry soup with crispy roast pork belly (and add-on cockles!), and nasi lemak with sticky fried chicken. There’s also a calamansi-dressed bean sprout salad, and to finish, ice cream conjured from the Aussie malted chocolate beverage Milo, topped dinosaur-style with a shower of powdered malt, just as it is in any self-respecting kopitiam.

Place your pre-orders now—unless you plan to dance with danger and walk in beginning at 5:30 PM this Monday.

Either way, it’s just the first Foodball of a thrilling summer, featuring the return of more veterans such as Mike “Ramen Lord” Satinover and Oskar Singer (formerly Rye Humor Baking); along with Keralan food from Thommy Padanilam of Thommy’s Toddy Shop; fermented magic from Vargo Brother Ferments; made-to-order roti from Dawn Lewis of D’s Roti & Trini Cuisine; Asian stoner snacks from SuperHai; and more.

As always, I’ll catch up with each chef the week before Foodball and tell you how and what to order. For the latest updates, follow the chefs on Instagram (see below), me, and/or @chicago_reader.

Tickets are already on sale for week two, Monday June 13, when Galit pastry chef Mary Eder-McClure (formerly of Limon y Sal) and Kat Stuehrk Talo of Butter Bird Bakery join forces for a four-course, family-style Lebanese-Armenian feast (vegetarian option available).

More on that next week. Until then, scroll down and gaze upon the full Monday Night Foodball summer schedule below:

Milo Dinosaur ice cream, Kedai Tapao

6/6: Kedai Tapao

6/13: Lebanese-Armenian with Mary Eder-Clure and Kat Stuehrk Talo of Butter Bird Bakery

6/20: Jordan Wimby, aka The Melanin Martha

6/27: Chinese-Viet-inspired barbecue from Charles Wong of Umamicue

7/4: Off for Independence Day

7/11: Dawn Lewis of D’s Roti & Trini Cuisine

7/18: Mazesoba from Mike “Ramen Lord” Satinover

7/25: Asian stoner snacks from SuperHai

8/1: Keralan food from Thommy Padanilam of Thommy’s Toddy Shop

8/8: Oskar Singer aka Whole Grain Hoe (formerly Rye Humor Baking)

8/15: Dylan Maysick of Diaspora Dinners

8/22: Vargo Brother Ferments

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