Fat Rice is a delicious new restaurant in Logan Square that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s run by the people behind X-Marx, a fantastic sounding underground/pop up dining club that I never got to try. The cuisine at Fat Rice is maybe a little hard to describe, since most of us Middle Westerners aren’t used to it – it’s Asian fusion, but with much more of a focus on southeast Asia, especially places influenced by the Portuguese, like Macau. (The Portuguese really got around in the 16th century, and left their culinary mark all over Asia, India and Africa.)
Anyway, I think of myself as a pretty adventurous eater, and I like to think I’ve tried almost everything available, but Fat Rice offers some really incredible, really surprising, really out-of-this-world flavor combinations. We had spicy roasted peanuts with chopped marinated lotus root, sour chili and pickled cabbage, a plate of perfectly cooked smoked tofu and chives, and then this utterly amazing hot pot of Portuguese chicken. The mussels were so perfectly cooked they nearly melted on my tongue. The chicken was astoundingly tender, and coated in crispy sweet baked coconut and spices. The curry sauce was pure culinary gold, I would have downed shot glasses full of it. The whole dish was packed with so many different things, but they blended together seamlessly. The cocktails are incredible too, tart and bright and sweet and very, very drinkable. It’s been a long while since I ate something that really felt new, but as Fat Rice points out, these flavors are actually 500 years old.