This is so, so, so, so much better than any beef jerky you're going to find in a bag.
The dish is called Seen Savanh, but I've also seen it called Sin Savanh or Sien Savanh. I'm far too ignorant about the Laotian culture to know if there's a difference between them. If someone is reading this that actually knows what they're talking about, I formally apologize ahead of time for getting any specifics wrong in this post. I just love this dish and want people to know about it.
I first had it at the old Bamboo restaurant on State Street across from The Irish Rose. It is now Sisters Thai Cafe (which is another great place to eat in town.) I believe that the Wok N' Roll food truck, that is being run by the former Bamboo owners, still serves it but I could be wrong.
I know for a fact that Rock Pho'd on Riverside does because I try to order it at least once a month.
It's basically a Laotian take on beef jerky, or maybe, probably likely, that the "Western" version beef jerky is based on the methods used to make Seen Savanh. I'm guessing that people have been preserving meat for a while now by dehydrating it.
This is what it looks like when you order it.
NOTE: The presentation is MUCH better when you dine-in.
Several strips is tender, slightly spicy, beef (flank?) served with a spicy tomato dipping sauce and a mound of sticky rice. You pinch off some rice, wrap a little meat around it, dunk it in the sauce and experience some of the best meat you've ever tasted.
Literally everything at Rock Pho'd is delicious, it really is one of the best restaurants in the Rockford area.
There is one other dish that I would like to highlight from Rock Pho'd that you might not be familiar with. That's the Nam Khao.
Here's the picture from their website.
I somehow know even less about Nam Khao, but I do know that it's delicious and maybe my favorite entrée in all of Rockford.
Here's their description of Nam Khao:
Deep fried crispy fried rice ball with bits of sour pork, glass noodles, chopped peanuts, green onion, cilantro, mint, and lime.
Think fried rice but with little bits of magic sprinkled in. It's all served with big lettuce cups to make wraps out of. It's a bit messy but totally worth it.
If you haven't been to Rock Pho'd yet give them a try, don't let the menu intimidate you. Ask questions, the almost overly-friendly staff will definitely point you in the right direction.