Every now and then, a restaurant opens in the suburbs that warrants an immediate trek from the city. Forest Park’s Habrae Thai Café & Eatery is such a spot. It’s a celebration of Bangkok’s sweets, which pastry chef Ussanee Sanmueangchin grew up eating. She got her start selling desserts to area Thai grocery stores before opening the restaurant with her husband, Jumpol “Jump” Prasitporn, in July 2021.
Those desserts are the main reason to visit, but the menu also offers savory options, like one of the best bowls of khao soi in the Chicago area. With tender braised beef and flat egg noodles in a complex coconut curry broth, it hits all the right notes — rich and creamy, with some sneaky hot spice.
Sanmueangchin, who attended baking school in Bangkok, serves a seemingly endless lineup of Thai desserts. You can find charcoal pudding and khanom tan (toddy palm cake) in a display. Also on the menu: kluay ping (grilled banana coated in caramel sauce). Want some ice cream? Try the coconut milk, which you can get topped with mango or turned into a sandwich. Perhaps most enticing is lod chong: green noodles, made from flour and pandan leaves, that are served over crushed ice and drizzled with a sweet blend of palm sugar, coconut cream, and jasmine. It’s a refreshing combination ideal for hot days.