As far as I'm concerned, a salad can only be improved by addition of meat, or, better yet, something fried—anything, really, to remove the notion that I'm eating something vaguely positive for my arteries. So the Crispy Onchoy Salad ($12) at Andy's Thai Kitchen in Lakeview is basically my dream—a nest of tempura-battered Chinese watercress topped with shrimp, ground chicken, mint, and onion, in an addictively incendiary chili dressing.
I've known Thai salads to contain fried toppings, but I've never seen a salad in which the entire base is fried, too. A staffer says the recipe originates in Bangkok, and knowing the Central Thai prowess with a wok full of hot oil, I'm not inclined to argue. Although it's nearly impossible not to inhale the hot, crispy stems the moment they arrive, I actually enjoyed the greens more after they'd had a few minutes to cool down and soak up the biting sweet-hot sauce. The chicken and shrimp help make the salad a substantial meal, and the fresh herbs and raw onion help cut the heaviness, mercifully tricking me into believing I'd just enjoyed a light, refreshing lunch.