You may find that Fat Rice is too off the beaten path to go there but not going would be a serious mistake. Surely, when you think about Chicago, especially when you are a tourist, you are more inclined to try the deep dish pizza that the city has to offer and I admit that if we would have not seen the season finale of Top Chef in Macau (the finale was in Macau, not us unfortunately, although I visited this place many years ago) last March, we would not have gone there. The guest chef was James Beard Award-winning chef Abe Conlon who serves Asian cuisine in his restaurant, Fat Rice, with several Macanese dishes. Opened in 2012 with Adrienne Lo who is the manager, Fat Rice offers an interesting and creative menu with striking flavors for a succulent meal. Although I admit that dessert was not that great, the place being short of egg tarts that I am sure are sublime. And if you wonder, the fat rice or arroz gordo is their signature dish, served with curried chicken, char siu (pork), linguiça (sausage), wood-roasted beef and chilli prawns. Unfortunately, they prepare it for the table (It serves 2 to 3 people) and Jodi being vegetarian, this would have been a waste. I asked if It was possible to get it for one as I assumed that, being an asian version of paella, they probably make a large quantity anyway, but they declined. Bummer! Besides this, we had a great dinner, enjoying the following dishes:
I’ll start with the drinks. Jodi had a non-alcoholic beverage called California Dreamin’, made with mint tea, strawberry and lime (quite refreshing), while I got the John Was The Teeth, made with High West Double rye, calvados, benedictine, yellow chartreuse and a scotch rinse.
As an appetizer, we shared the são jorge cheese, a dish from The Azores, that was served with pineapple jam (great pairing of sweet and savory), arugula and some housemade chips that were amazing.
I also tried the chili prawn that is a dish from Macau where giant prawns from Madagascar (I mean, these were of a good size, not like the tiny prawns you often get in restaurants), were served head on (rare as sometimes people consider prawns or fish served with their head creepy), bathed in a delicious white wine and butter sauce that was not that spicy, with fermented black beans. I picked 4 instead of 6 pieces but it was so good that I regretted not getting more…And by the way, you eat them with your fingers, sucking on the juice in the head and they give you wet towels to wash your hands.
For her entree, Jodi chose the daily fried rice that was that day, made with maitake mushroom, egg, ramp and asparagus. I loved it: it had a nice crunch and was quite hearty.
On my side, I chose a dish from Macau that was offered in limited quantity. It was called O Diabo. Served in a clay pot, it had most of the ingredients of the fat rice dish but without rice: char siu pork, wood roasted beef, chicken, as well as pickles, curry, spicy mustard, egg, and vegetables like peppers and cauliflower.
Additionaly, I could have added their O Diabo house made sauce, that is made with ghost pepper: I could have but did not do it as I already tried one time a habanero sauce and my mouth was on fire; so, as the ghost pepper is 2 to 3 times hotter on the Scoville Heat Units scale, I passed. So this dish was good, with a little kick and nice flavors, especially considering that each spoon was different, having sometimes pork, or beef, or chicken, often a combination of 2 or 3 meats. Delicious, but I was still regretting the fact that I could not get their fat rice!
For dessert, we got a mocha chocolate chip cookie that was a bit dry and wanted to try the “Bacon from Heaven” or toucinho do ceú, a traditional custard cake made with almond, honey and cinnamon. I love anything made with almond and was curious to taste it because of the presence of bacon, but, unfortunately, the cinnamon overpowered it and I did not like it.
So overall the food was good, Fat Rice proposing unusual flavors and creative dishes, with few vegetarian ones, but a majority of meat and seafood specialties. I would definitely go back, their menu being quite mouth watering and hope that one day they will propose their fat rice for one person…
Enjoy (I did)!
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Fat Rice - 2957 W Diversey Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647