Monday, June 17, 2013

Fat Rice

I have long bemoaned the fact that Chicago is sorely lacking a Portuguese restaurants.  Now I will grant that for an ethnic restaurant to survive, it really helps to have an ethnic population that would eat such cuisine.  While there isn't a Portuguese population as such, I am sure that there are Portuguese people here and there are people that have been to Portugal so I have thought that a Portuguese restaurant could succeed.  Last year, Fat Rice, a restaurant that serves the food of Macau, a Chinese district/territory/autonomous zone (like Honk Kong) on the coast of the Indian Ocean that was for a long time, a colony of Portugal.  The cuisine is a fusion of Portuguese and Chinese cuisines.  Both areas are on the coast, so there is a lot of seafood but there are many Asian spices like ginger and chilies and because it is a natural fusion, it doesn't feel forced.  Located on a corner, the entrance to the restaurant is on he corner of the building.  The dining room is relatively small but has two communal tables that seat about 10 people each, about 4 4-top tables, and a corner bar surrounding an open kitchen that will seat another 12 people.  The place has kind of a rustic look to it.  The place is done in dark wood and has old kitchen tools hanging on the walls.  Because the place is small and they seem to do a pretty good business, they have opened a separate waiting area which is also attached to the kitchen but diners have to leave and go to down two doors down the street to enter.  This room has a couple of benches with hinge-attached seating that swings around and a small bar where you can buy all of the drinks in the restaurant as well a small menu of bar snacks.  As I came without a reservation at a busy time, I did have to wait about 40 minutes but it was fine because serendipitously, a couple of my friends decided to try the restaurant at the same time.  I had a beer, they have a good selection of craft brews, and an order of Jamon Iberico Mangalica which was slices of Jamon Iberico, a cured ham that comes from pigs that live in the woods of Spain and Portugal and eat acorns and truffles for the last few months of their life.  It is very light and in addition to the excellent pork flavor, it also has a nutty and buttery flavor.  The jamon was served with Asian Pear, Garlic Almonds, and Mustard Sprouts.  The dish was very light and good and the pear went very well with the ham.  I am generally not a fan of ham but this was much less gritty than most pears normally are and was actually pretty good.  My friends ordered a mixed bowl of warm Mama's Nuts, which were also very good.

When I was seated, I was seated at the bar because I like to watch the goings on in the kitchen.  My friends, while they weren't with me, were seated very close.  Which while nice, the room was loud so it was hard to carry on a conversation unless you were next to each other.  For my appetizer, the first official course of my meal, I ordered Linguiça with Chili Cabbage (cabbage with piri piri peppers), Cilantro, Ginger, and Olives.  The sausage was cooked well and was juicy.  It kind of reminded me of kielbasa but it went well with the spicy cabbage and ginger.

The main courses at Fat Rice are large and are generally meant for two people.  One person could eat it but if they also got an appetizer and dessert, they would probably be pretty uncomfortable.  For my entree, I had a dish with a very descriptive name, Porco-Clamo, and that is exactly what it was.  Served in a clay pot it was a stew of slow cooked pork shoulder, littleneck clams, potatoes, olives, and more peppers in a natural jus.  This was very good and more than I was going to be able to comfortably eat.  The pork was served on the bone, but it was so tender that it easily slid off the bone when you took a knife to it.  This was all served with coconut rice which provided another good flavor to the mix.  I enjoyed what I could of this and took the rest home so I could also enjoy dessert.

For my dessert, I ordered what was called a Serradura and was a custard type dish like a flan or a panna cotta.  The custard was actually thinner than flan or panna cotta but it was sweet cream based and pretty good.  It was served with Guavas, Bananas, and topped with Almond Brickle Cookie Crumbs.  It was sweet and fruity with a variety of textures from the fruit, the creamy custard, and the layer of nutty cookie crumbs.  It was very good and a fitting end to a very good dinner.

I really enjoyed my meal here at Fat Rice.  The staff was friendly, the place was nice, and the food was really good.  While Chicago still does not have a Portuguese restaurant, they have come much closer with Fat Rice and I will definitely be back.  

No comments:

Post a Comment