We had only lived in Oak Park, Chicago’s neighboring village on the west, for a short time before we realized that the vegan options in this otherwise progressive community, are, sadly, pretty limited. We have Flat Top Grill, which we love, a couple of Middle Eastern restaurants, a café with some decent options, a pretty good Thai restaurant and not too much more. When word got out that Penny’s Noodles, a small, local chain, would be opening a outpost here, the excitement was palpable. I seemed to overhear “When is Penny’s opening?” in every conversation. Or maybe that was just my overactive, yearning imagination. It finally opened at 1130 Chicago Avenue in Oak Park. They have four other locations in the area.
We’d been to Penny’s Noodles in the city, and, frankly, we were never blown away by it. Living in a city with so many fantastic options, it was usually a destination born out of circumstance, like, “Oh, look, there’s Penny’s and we’re hungry.” These days, though, I count my blessings to have a Penny’s Noodles nearby, and the food has definitely grown on me over the years. It is probably not the world’s most authentic Thai food (which is good for vegans as that usually has fish sauce in it) but it is tasty and generous in portion. The servers are always helpful to us with our requests. As with all Asian food, I always specify that we do not eat fish sauce, chicken broth, etc., My meals at Penny’s have never caused any problems.
The Vietnamese Spring Rolls are a yummy, light appetizer. For meals, we love the Vegetarian Bowl, rice noodles topped with raw veggies and limes, the hearty Pad Se Eu (specify without egg), and the Vegetable Noodle Soup is an excellent choice when you’re feeling a little under the weather. Bean Thread Noodle (again, without egg) is light but filling as well, and the Stir-fried Vegetables Over Rice (not online but at the shop) is tasty, wholesome and generous in portion. There are several other dishes that can be veganized with tofu replacing the meat. Another great quality of Penny’s is they never seem to overcook the vegetables: they are crisp and perfectly cooked. They do deliver if you’re just not up for going out, and their prices are very reasonable, ranging from $6.95 to $8.25 for entrees.
For more info: 708-660-1300 or PennysNoodleShop.com