CHIReview

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining review image
8.4

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining

$$$$

2043 W Howard , Chicago
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

Whether it’s your first or tenth visit to Khmai, you’ll be treated like a regular. The friendly staff warmly welcomes you with a Cambodian greeting. Servers tell you their favorite dishes and chat about all the taste testing they did that day. The chef will drop a plate of savory crepes at your table, and joke about how her mom (who also works here) refuses to let anyone else make the banh chow because hers are the best. 

There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie at this Cambodian restaurant. But it's Khmai's fantastic food and always-evolving menu that keeps us coming back.

Chicago's Best New Restaurants Of 2022 guide image

CHI Guide

Chicago's Best New Restaurants Of 2022

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Khmai is one of only two Cambodian restaurants in Chicago, Hermosa being the other. It began as a catering service, started doing pop-up dinners, and now finally has a permanent space in Rogers Park. Here, you’ll hear the dulcet tones of Khmer music and eat while TVs stream city shots, landscapes, and traditional Cambodian dances. It’s easy to relax in the casual space, full of friends not willing to give up the last beef skewer (understandable) or couples realizing that only one order of tamarind wings simply isn’t enough (also understandable).

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

The menu at Khmai changes regularly, but (unlike when we buy scratch-offs) the money we spend always ends in success. One week they might have somlar machu kreoung, a soothing tamarind broth filled with tender short ribs and vegetables. Or maybe a bowl of chewy vermicelli topped with a rich, garlicky coconut sauce and ground chicken. Hopefully, they'll have the sach ko ang: Juicy beef skewers covered in an irresistible sweet and savory marinade with a pleasant hint of lemongrass.

Every dish is delightful— a complex layering of flavors and textures that makes us say “Ok, this is our favorite.”  But after multiple visits and seeing our “favorites” disappear, we’ve learned not to get too attached. We just enjoy whatever incredible thing is on our plate.

Sign up for our newsletter.

Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.


By signing up, I agree to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Food Rundown

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Mai's Eggrolls

What makes these eggrolls so good are the pieces of taro inside, which add a little bit of nuttiness to complement the ground chicken and mung bean noodle filling. It comes with a fantastic tuk trei, their housemade spicy fish sauce, which adds extra umami and tartness to each crispy bite.

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Sach Koh Ang

Life is full of uncertainty, but one thing you can count on is that we’ll order the sach koh ang every time we see it on the menu. These fatty beef skewers have a great balance of sweet, savory, and spice, and might be the best thing here. Each order comes with rice, plus some jrouk and tuk trei for a little bit of acidity.

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Slab Morn Ang

The reason why we said sach koh ang might be the best dish is because these chicken wings exist. The tender chicken is covered in a sweet and tangy tamarind sauce that absolutely warrants some finger licking afterwards. Plus, we highly recommend dipping the eggrolls in this sauce, too.

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Laab Sach Morn

The only thing more action-packed than a John Wick movie is this salad. Every forkful is a play between contrasting elements—spicy chilis with refreshing lime and tuk trei, warm chicken with fresh radish, bell peppers, and bean sprouts—all of which gets added crunch from toasted rice and peanuts.

Khmai Cambodian Fine Dining review image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Somlar Machu Kreoung

If setting nine phone alarms isn’t enough to get you out of bed, then perhaps the smell of lemongrass and herbs emanating from Khmai’s somlar machu kreoung will. The tamarind broth is tart, spicy, and full of tender short ribs, eggplant, celery, and jalapeño. Order this.

Nom Ya

This is a build-your-own-noodle-bowl situation. A platter of vermicelli and vegetables are served alongside a bowl of creamy coconut milk, ground chicken, garlic, and shallots. When everything is mixed together, the noodles absorb the rich sauce, and the fresh bean sprouts, chilis, squash blossom, and a squeeze of lime add brighteness.

Chicago's Best New Dishes Of 2022 guide image

CHI Guide

Chicago's Best New Dishes Of 2022

Featured in

Suggested Reading

bopNgrill review image
7.5
Review

BopnGrill is a casual Korean fusion restaurant that has fantastic burgers.

Mr. Kabab review image
8.2
Review

Mr. Kabab is a great Middle Eastern restaurant in West Rogers Park.

Gogi review image
7.4
Review

Gogi is a great Korean BBQ Restaurant in West Roger’s Park.

Infatuation Logo
2023 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.

FIND PLACES ON OUR APP

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store