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  • Fat Rice

    Post #1 - November 11th, 2012, 6:47 pm
    Post #1 - November 11th, 2012, 6:47 pm Post #1 - November 11th, 2012, 6:47 pm
    Fat Rice is in their soft opening this week. We went on Saturday and enjoyed it very much. If you've eaten at an XmarX dinner, you know the kind of flavors to expect. The idea is (more or less) where Portugese explorers went on their way to China. Mixing of cultures, for example items from the cuisine of Macau.

    They do have a liquor license, with a small but quite nice beer and wine list (didn't notice if they do liquor or not).

    Even though it was a "friends and family" dinner, I didn't notice service or food issues. No doubt they will come up, since it is a brand new restaurant.

    Fat Rice
    2957 W Diversey Ave.
    (773) 661-9170
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #2 - November 24th, 2012, 2:55 pm
    Post #2 - November 24th, 2012, 2:55 pm Post #2 - November 24th, 2012, 2:55 pm
    Went again last night (Fri) with a group of 5. We had to wait for a table, and there were quite a few other larger groups also waiting. There really isn't anywhere to wait - the bar was taken up with people eating. There were people hanging out by the bathrooms, and people hanging out in the entryway.

    The menu has expanded. The amount of food you get is a lot, though it was funny - one dish was a fish dish, and there was a lot of every ingredient except th fish. Everything was delicious, I particularly liked the Fat Rice dish. Everything is big enough to share, but we all felt like that dish you just wanted to get yourself, nothing but that, and work through all the layers and flavors. We were digging down to the bottom to get the rice that had been saturated with all the yummy juices from everything on top. The servings of potstickers were huge, too - I think there were 7 to an order.

    While they have cocktails they do not have a full bar.

    Service was good, we felt like the explanations we got were fine, and things came out and were taken away at a reasonable pace. Everyone was pleasant, and kept apologizing that we had to wait - but we had expected to wait, arriving with 5 people at 7:30 on a Friday night. We ordered some drinks, and chatted. I liked the music. It maybe was a scootch loud, but not so loud you couldn't talk - and it was a good mix, not too loungey and not too dancey.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #3 - December 13th, 2012, 11:06 pm
    Post #3 - December 13th, 2012, 11:06 pm Post #3 - December 13th, 2012, 11:06 pm
    First time in tonight--loved it!

    We started with a selection of pickles--spicy cukes, sour cabbage (basically kimchi) and a sweet eggplant--and the baccalao. The pickles were great--even the sweet eggplant which isn't something I typically like. And the baccalao was perfect--not overly salty and the texture was right on. AND they give you enough crostini--I hate having to ask for more--no need with this serving.

    Next up was the Gordo salad--the ultimate ethnic version of a garbage salad! Charred Padrón pepper, Tea Egg, Jamon Iberico - Parrano cheese, Anchovie, nicely varied greens, some of the sweet/savory coated nuts that they sell under the "mama's nuts' label, a few croutons with a Mango Chutney Port Viniagrette. I think that was everything but not sure! Again, slightly sweet dressing but perfectly acidic. Even with all of those ingredients, it worked--and it was an enormous portion--I could happily stop in for a quick dinner of just that salad--doubtful that I could be that disciplined but I often find myself craving a great salad and this one would fit the bill.

    Lastly we tried 2 of the wok/main items--Shaking Chili Whitefish (Sichuan Peppercorn, Shishito Peppers and Preserved Lemon) and the Balichang Catfish with Tamarind, Pork Belly, Soft Tofu, Thai Eggplant and I think a few other ingredients. Both of these dishes were fantastic. The fried Whitefish had an incredible texture--crisp coating, greaseless, deliciously moist inside and the perfect accent of numbing peppercorns (not spicy, just flavorful) and crunchy shishitos. And the Catfish dish was hearty with so many interesting textures and ingredients.

    There's really nothing I wouldn't order again (and again!) but there are still so many things to try, starting with the Linguica which looked very tempting coming off the grill and the Fat Rice dish which needs to be shared by a larger group. Can't wait to get back. I've definitely missed Abraham and Adrienne's food!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #4 - December 14th, 2012, 10:33 am
    Post #4 - December 14th, 2012, 10:33 am Post #4 - December 14th, 2012, 10:33 am
    The Fat Rice (arroz gordo) is perfect for two - there seems to be 2 of each thing in there. However, it is a huge portion and you don't need anything else to eat if you get that! The best part (to me) was the rice on the bottom and sides that had gotten charred where it was slightly stuck to the serving vessel.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #5 - December 16th, 2012, 5:29 pm
    Post #5 - December 16th, 2012, 5:29 pm Post #5 - December 16th, 2012, 5:29 pm
    I had dinner at Fat Rice earlier this week and thought the food was delicious and exciting. The highlight of our meal may have been the signature Arroz Gordo, which was crispy-edged and chock full of good stuff like prawns, chicken thigh, tea egg, roast pork and clams, but most everything we had impressed us with its assertive, distinctive flavors. Wintermelon soup with sichuan-style bacon dried scallop and scallion, smoky tofu, sour chili cabbage, linguica and several others (I forgot some of them because I didn't do the ordering) were items I'd happily order again. The only missed bet was the Coffee & Cream dessert, which had some nice elements but didn't really come together as a whole for me personally. Pineapple upside down cake, otoh, was really nice -- moist, flavorful and not crazily sweet.

    I kind of wish it were BYO because the beverage list didn't wow me as much as the food did. This seems like perfect fare to pair up with some sour beers or Basque ciders but none of them appear on the beverage list. I'd love it if a few such items were added but it wasn't like we had trouble selecting something to drink off the menu. It's an interesting list, even if not in my wheelhouse.

    Even on a Tuesday, it was pretty crowded by about 7:15, so I'd suggest going early on a weeknight for the best experience. I really wanted to go back on Saturday but at this point, unless one could arrive right before they opened, I believe that would be a fool's errand.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #6 - December 23rd, 2012, 11:04 am
    Post #6 - December 23rd, 2012, 11:04 am Post #6 - December 23rd, 2012, 11:04 am
    I don't know whether it was because of the holiday weekend or because Yogi ("It was so crowded...") was right all along, but Fat Rice was pretty dead at 9PM Saturday. Take that for what it's worth.

    This place has a ton of promise, no doubt: the pickling was on point; the la was definitely in effect in the floral and very tongue-deadening power of the numb numb rabbit; and the smoke flavors sang on the tofu and linguica dishes Ronnie noted. The quality of the product they are using is evident in the fat noodles dish, which has a just-right XO sauce; I will say, however, the shaking whitefish dish just didn't come together the way those great fried-then-stir-fried dishes at Lao Hunan do.

    Once this place finds its groove, it should be something.
  • Post #7 - February 1st, 2013, 7:00 pm
    Post #7 - February 1st, 2013, 7:00 pm Post #7 - February 1st, 2013, 7:00 pm
    Three of us had dinner at Fat Rice last night and enjoyed it for the most part. For me, the best dish is a tough debate between the Fat Noodle and the Fat Rice. We had the Fat Noodle which is hand rolled chee cheong fun with your choice of either mushroom & egg or x.o. sauce. We chose the x.o. sauce. The real star here are the thick, chewy noodles which are some of the very best I've ever had, but the x.o. sauce, while not the best I've tasted, was still quite good.

    The Fat Rice was also excellent. Unlike paella, it's served in a narrow, deep bowl so you don't get quite the socarrat that you would with paella. No problem, you still get some, and you also get some of the largest, most magnificent, flavorful, and perfectly cooked head-on prawns imaginable . . . along with delicious clams, roast pork, dense Portuguese sausage, delicious tea-smoked eggs, chicken thighs, olives, almonds and peppers. It's served with two sauces on the side - one akin to a soy sauce, the other a vinegary hot sauce that relies upon both habaneros and ghost peppers for heat (although it's not quite as hot as you'd expect given the peppers used). If I had one complaint about the dish, it's that it's piled high to the top of the bowl, so you have to dig through some of the top meats and the like to get to the rice, and it can get a little messy. But I should shut up at the risk of making the portion smaller. However, I might suggest they remove the pits from the olives - I thought I was going to crack a tooth. But the flavors here are really terrific. The area of the restaurant we sat was dark and I wasn't going to use my flash, so my picture of the Fat Rice is about the only one worth sharing:

    Image
    Fat Rice - the dish


    With the Fat Rice (a full meal for two persons), you also get two soups, a vegetable, and two desserts. We tried both the pumpkin soup and wintermelon soup. It's not a good thing when you taste soup and can't possibly note the flavors in the soup. The pumpkin was the worse of the two, too thin to really taste the pumpkin. The wintermelon was only slightly better - I could taste the bacon, but not necessarily the wintermelon and definitely not the scallop.

    For our vegetable, we chose the yu choi (very similar to bok choy) and it was terrific, perfectly cooked to keep the texture intact, and with a delicious sesame accented sauce.

    Separately, we also ordered an evening special of a fish curry (can't remember the type of fish). We liked the fish - it was nicely cooked. And the curry was decent but could have been a little more assertive with flavor. The sauce was also a little too oily.

    Finally, for our two desserts, we chose the pineapple upside down cake and the serradura (a parfait of sorts, with guava, sweetened cream, banana, cookie crumbles and almond brittle). We all thought the cake was fine, nothing more, but we were practically fighting over the serradura which had such a great combination of flavors. If I could offer one small suggestion for the serradura, it would be to add just a little more of the unadvertised almond brittle to the parfait for texture (and maybe almond flavor). But we all agreed it was excellent as it was.

    I had one cocktail, the GSP, which has white port, ginger, saffron and mint. It didn't do much for me and the saffron flavor was so powerful that it was the only flavor that really came through. On the other hand, we ended the meal with some of the stellar teas from Rare Tea Cellar.

    Service needs work. For part of the meal, we were served by Adrienne Lo, one of the owners. And Adrienne was terrific, happy to engage in conversation, and obviously very knowledgeable about the menu. Other servers had very little knowledge of the menu, although one poor guy admitted it was his first day. Also, be aware that you might have to fight to keep your food. Too often, they tried to take food away before we were finished, even trying to take the same dish away multiple times. We also often had to request new silverware, serving spoons, small bowls for sharing food served in a large bowl, etc. Obviously, they're still new-ish but there were a whole lot of service gaffes that had to be addressed and at times it became a little exhausting . . . with the customer having to perform more work than should be necessary.

    But I found the space welcoming and nicely designed and I look forward to trying more of the menu. There were several dishes I've never tried before, some fantastic flavors, and I really look forward to them getting through their growing pains.

    Here's a link to their website, which includes a link to their menu.
  • Post #8 - March 8th, 2013, 11:03 am
    Post #8 - March 8th, 2013, 11:03 am Post #8 - March 8th, 2013, 11:03 am
    Ate here last night. I think restaurants should decide whether they want to take reservations or they should offer people somewhere to wait. The experience I had was rather perplexing. I got there much earlier than my friends, because it's a bit of a walk though a bunch of slush from the train and I wasn't sure how long it would take. I thought, well, I'm early, so maybe I'll have a drink and a snack at the bar, especially since I was a bit dehydrated and tired. The bar had a lot of empty seats. But the hostess told me I could absolutely not sit there unless I was going to eat my meal there and they would not seat me anywhere without the rest of my party. I told her that seemed odd and then I awkwardly stood next to the doorway for awhile before she came back. I guess I looked unhappy so she explained the policy again and noted there were no more empty seats at the bar anyway. But there were and I pointed it out, a seat next to a man. She said "oh, he's waiting for someone else." I was like "I thought you didn't seat incomplete parties?" At this point I wondered if I smelled bad or something, so I did something that my friends later chastised me for, which is that I tweeted to them "Why can't I sit at the bar and have a drink?"

    Because of that, Adrienne Lo, one of the owners, came over and sat me at the bar next to the man, who then looked at me angrily, and said that the original hostess was mistaken. But as soon as the man's dining companion arrived, I was unceremoniously evicted from that spot with my cocktail and relegated to the doorway again, where I stood for 45 more minutes as my friends joined me. The other owner, Abraham Conlon, came by and contradicted Adrienne by telling me that the bar wasn't really a bar, that it was for eating. At this point I was tired and hungry, but I waited on. F

    I am used to sitting at the bar and I often end up just deciding to eat there, as I often do at Au Cheval or Girl and the Goat. I have eaten at a great deal of restaurants in many places and worked in a few myself, and never had such an experience before, except at places that accept reservations and fill the bar that way. HIlariously enough, an industry acquaintance happened to come by as a solo diner and they ended up seating him awkwardly in the middle of a communal table. There was a steady parade of people trying to sit at the bar as they entered, who had to be blocked by the hostess. It is not a high-traffic corner of Logan Square, so it's not like you can pop into another nearby bar to wait like you can at long-waiting places on Restaurant Row. At one point there was probably a crowd of 9-10 at the doorway.

    The food was good though. There were a few misses like a salad gordo that seemed underdressed, a bland cauliflower curry, and the cocktails which were weak and bland. I really liked the lamb vindaloo, which is new on the menu and had a fantastic kick without being too spicy. The XO noodles and the sichuan bacon were deliciously savory. The winter fruit dessert had some lovely and unusual cloud mushrooms. The food reminded me of a mix of Momofuku-inspired Asian-American and more upscale Chinese, Indian, and Thai food. I would probably be back if they decide to open a lounge, like Adrienne suggested, or take reservations, but otherwise there are similar options in Chicago that don't require you to deal with things like this.
  • Post #9 - March 31st, 2013, 11:16 pm
    Post #9 - March 31st, 2013, 11:16 pm Post #9 - March 31st, 2013, 11:16 pm
    They now have a waiting area which is located about 50 feet East of the restaurant. You access the space from Diversey after you put your name on the list with the hostess at the main restaurant location. It is connected to the restaurant, but only for the staff. It's a cool space; only about 200 square feet, but decorated nicely. There is seating for about a dozen and you can order drinks / snacks. It's apparent they are listening to their customers and trying to make the waiting experience more tolerable. My hour or so wait was very enjoyable.

    I'm not sure if it is open everyday, however.
  • Post #10 - April 1st, 2013, 7:46 am
    Post #10 - April 1st, 2013, 7:46 am Post #10 - April 1st, 2013, 7:46 am
    milz50 wrote:They now have a waiting area which is located about 50 feet East of the restaurant. You access the space from Diversey after you put your name on the list with the hostess at the main restaurant location. It is connected to the restaurant, but only for the staff. It's a cool space; only about 200 square feet, but decorated nicely. There is seating for about a dozen and you can order drinks / snacks. It's apparent they are listening to their customers and trying to make the waiting experience more tolerable. My hour or so wait was very enjoyable.

    I'm not sure if it is open everyday, however.

    Excellent to know - thanks.
  • Post #11 - April 14th, 2013, 2:07 pm
    Post #11 - April 14th, 2013, 2:07 pm Post #11 - April 14th, 2013, 2:07 pm
    Had dinner here on Friday and can vouch for the waiting room--it makes a HUGE difference. Instead of waiting around where you were clearly in everyone's way and enduring the longing (and sometimes less polite) looks of those desperate for a table, you can now hang in a comfortable little asian-decorated den. We even got to enjoy a snack--eggplant slices stuffed with pork and shrimp, coated in crumbs of some kind and fried--perfect bar food.

    As for the meal--they continue to do so much great stuff that you just don't see elsewhere in Chicago. We tried to limit ourselves only to things we hadn't tried--so this time we started with spicy garlic cucumbers, Charlie's Peanuts (loan holdover from past meals--so good) and smoky tofu & trumpet mushrooms--loved them all but especially the tofu dish--great textures, nice acid, tofu was smoky and chewy--I love starting with these little bites. Next up was a new dish--fried clams (both pieces of bellies and slivers of the body) on a bed of terrific rice noodles with a vinegar/chili sauce. Clams perfectly cooked and could've eaten a bowl of the noodles as my main course. We ordered 4 of the medium dishes for our mains--the XO noodles, hanger steak with shishito peppers, a new dish--shrimp and okra in a curry sauce with bananas--and, my favorite, the sichuan bacon with mushrooms and other vegetables. All were very good but the bacon was definitely the consensus favorite of the table.

    We finished with the perfect dessert--small bites of fruit--asian pears, jack fruit, blood oranges, cloud mushrooms(all lacy, crunchy texture) and mint in a fragrant juice that, again, I could've enjoyed by itself.

    For me, Fat Rice is so successful because they manage to include interesting ingredients without overdoing it--flavors and textures are balanced and it doesn't skew too sweet. They really stand out in the crowd of "hot" spots for me--I could go back every week.
    Last edited by boudreaulicious on April 16th, 2013, 4:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #12 - April 16th, 2013, 4:00 pm
    Post #12 - April 16th, 2013, 4:00 pm Post #12 - April 16th, 2013, 4:00 pm
    Great to hear they have a non-torture-based waiting for a table system now.

    They also just won Best New Restaurant in the Eat Out Awards
    http://timeoutchicago.com/restaurants-b ... out-awards
  • Post #13 - April 28th, 2013, 11:46 pm
    Post #13 - April 28th, 2013, 11:46 pm Post #13 - April 28th, 2013, 11:46 pm
    The extremely short list of places where I will willingly wait 2+ hours for a table has now officially doubled, from 1 to 2. Until this weekend, Mosca's in Avondale, LA was the only place on this list of mine. It's been the only place on the list for 30 years and I never thought that list would ever expand (at my age, 2+ hours is a measurable percentage of the time I have left :wink:) However, after waiting for about 2 hours for a table on Friday, I can now add Fat Rice to the list. I knew full well that it'd be insane walking in there at around 8 pm on a Friday evening but on the heels of WhiskyFest, along with a couple of friends -- including one who'd never been there before -- it seemed like the right call, anyway. And it was. Our dinner was sensational and the wait in the new waiting area was actually quite lovely, too.

    I've been to Fat Rice about a half-dozen times now and those visits have almost always been during the week, which usually makes it a lot mellower when I show up. Once recently, a very nice friend got there ahead of us and waited for our table. By the time we arrived, the wait to be seated was only a few minutes. Another time, my wife and I drove by at 9:55 pm, decided to stop and were rewarded with 2 near-immediate seats at the bar. But now the secret's out. Fat Rice is about to ascend to its rightful place at the very top of Chicago's already fantastic dining scene. Throw in the great weather on a Friday evening and well . . . the only surprise would have been if the wait was shorter than 2 hours.

    We waited at the door for a few minutes because it was so slammed that they actually needed a few minutes just to assess how long the wait would actually be. During that time, we were told frequently that they'd let us know asap and that they didn't want to mislead us. After not too long, we were told that it would be at least 2 hours but that there was room in the waiting area and that if parties ahead of us bailed, we'd be seated sooner. We received our playing card and walked over to the waiting room.

    All the seats were full but the room is comfortable and cozy. So, we stood and ordered some whiskeys, and a couple of snacks. After a very brief time, 2 seats opened up at the counter along the south wall, then a third. So, after just a couple of minutes the 3 of us were sitting in the soothing comfort of the dim red lighting, chatting, sipping whiskey (Very Old Barton), listening to some nice tunes and having some snacks (Mama's Nuts sampler and Shrimp Chips). It was just a nice way to hang-out. I think it must have been an hour before I even looked at my watch the first time. One moral of the story is certainly to never go to Fat Rice with people you don't really dig hanging out with. But another is that folks who operate their restaurants with the understanding that they are part of the hospitality industry totally rule. I felt more welcome, cared for and comfortable during this 2+ hour wait than I've felt at some restaurants where I was seated immediately and the tab was over $350 a person. Don't tell anyone but it's a bit of a party over at Fat Rice.

    At around 10 we were ushered over to the dining room, where our evening of hanging out, sipping whiskey and eating some excellent food continued rather seamlessly. There were quite a few new items on the menu and we let our awesome server, Joanna, know that we were pretty hungry and that our preference was for chef to send out whatever he was excited to serve. We also let her know if it was too effing busy for that, we'd make the call ourselves. She helped by suggesting a bevy of the new dishes and chef Abraham added a few of his own choice and our meal 'officially' began.

    We started out with 3 selections from the 'Pickles & Bites' section of the menu: Ginger Lime Cauliflower, Sesame Jellyfish, (Smoked) Seafood Escabeche. I enjoyed all three of these but the jellyfish and escabeche just blew me away. I just loved the bold, assertive flavors in these nibbles. The smoke element of the escabeche was so perfect and the distinctive bite of the jellyfish really allowed me to savor all the complementary flavors in the dish. These were some great palate openers.

    From the 'Small' section of the menu we had the Grilled Sardines (fennel, olive, radish, papa seco) and the Chilli Clam (vermicelli noodles, black bean, garlic butter). The sardines were very tasty and really a testament to the beauty of pristine seafood handled skillfully. They were cooked perfectly -- pungent, meaty and moist. The clams -- a combination of steamed and fried -- was a more chef-driven dish that I thought was phenomenal. I just couldn't believe how perfectly the flavors and textures in this dish synergized into something far more than the sum of their parts. The black beans were actually fermented black beans, which was a brilliant choice. They were like little exclamation points dotted throughout the dish. I think all 3 of us were just speechless when we ate this.

    From the 'Medium' section we had the Crazy Squid (bird chilli, sweet basil, green garlic, cashew and "now with more crazy") and the Bacon Egg & Ramp Stir Fry (pickled chilli, tamarind, fish sauce, peanut). Both dishes were explosively flavorful and satisfying. Chef Abraham told us that the "more crazy" aspect of the squid dish indicated that the dish was now even spicier than its previous incarnation. In any case, it was stunning, with squid that had great flavor and just the right amount of chew. There was heat but it wasn't heat for heat's sake. The dish was in balance and the flavor of those bird chiles actually completed the composition beautifully. The bacon, egg and ramp dish was another compelling winner. Like so many other dishes at Fat Rice, it took a form that was all its own. There were such great flavors and textures, it was sad when we finished it.

    From the 'Large' section of the menu we had the Goan Pomfret Curry (green mango, long bean, tomato, jalapeno, thai eggplant) and the Chacuti (chickpea, cauliflower, paneer, cashew, banana pachadi). Again, 2 sensational dishes here. The pomfret was perfectly flaky and moist but beyond the sensational fish, it was just a great dish all the way around. The curry was multi-dimensional, aromatic and spicy. I loved biting into the crunchy pieces of Thai eggplant and just digging all the flavors during the long chew. The Chacuti was downright intoxicating, boasting a delightful combination of ingredients that sang together on every level. Chickpeas and cauliflower are two of my all-time favorite ingredients, so naturally, this really spoke to me. The vegetables had great definition, not too firm but not mushy at all. As full as we were, there was a little bit leftover, which I took home. It made for a fantastic omelet filling for my Sunday breakfast.

    For dessert, we had the Pineapple Upside Down Cake (caramel, cream), which I've just grown to love over my visits to Fat Rice, and the Serradura (guava, sweet cream, banana, tea biscuit crumb), which is just a little bowl of loveliness. We were stuffed but we still managed to put down most of both.

    For my money, Fat Rice is one of the most exciting and important restaurants in the city. Their food is unlike anything else being served in town. They combine great, often under-used ingredients in thoughtful compositions that are expertly prepared. Service is ultra-friendly and the vibe is a thing all its own. It really is a party over at Fat Rice and it's being thrown by a team that seems to genuinely feed on the energy in the room; the energy that is actually generated via great hosting. There is no other place I know of where a 2-hour wait for a table is not only worth it but also part of the fun.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #14 - May 5th, 2013, 11:49 am
    Post #14 - May 5th, 2013, 11:49 am Post #14 - May 5th, 2013, 11:49 am
    I returned to Fat Rice last week, and as much as I enjoyed the food on my first visit, I thought the food was even better this second visit. Though flavors could possibly be described as slightly restrained on my first visit, flavors were exploding this second visit. The greatest example here was the Fat Noodles dish. The XO sauce was a little spicier and little fishier and just a bit more assertive than the first time, and all in a good way. Particularly so given the great, chewy texture of the rolled noodles.

    Though I'm having trouble recalling all of the other dishes we ordered, (the online menu is far from being up to date), my dining companion reminds me we had a chili fried clam dish. While I don't recall every element of the dish, I'll say that I loved it. We also had the bacon, ramp and egg stir fry Ronnie mentions. This resonated more with my dining companion than it did with me. All of the flavors were great, but personally, I found the bacon slightly dominated the dish. Had this been served over rice, or maybe had the ramps been even slightly pickled, I think I might have loved it.

    We also shared a few items from the pickle portion of the menu. We loved the cauliflower with ginger and lime (and I never love cauliflower). My favorite, however, was a jellyfish item (in strands, almost like glass noodles), though again I can't recall it specifically. Neither of us liked the seafood escabeche. We both found it to be too sweet and lacking acidity, and my first bite was an overly fishy, mushy mussel.

    But the overwhelming majority of food was outstanding, bursting with flavor, not restrained, spicy where promised, and just purely enjoyable. I just wish the waits were not so long, but the new bar area a couple of doors down is at least a far better option than waiting around on a street corner, and the servers there are quite friendly and helpful.
  • Post #15 - May 5th, 2013, 12:23 pm
    Post #15 - May 5th, 2013, 12:23 pm Post #15 - May 5th, 2013, 12:23 pm
    BR wrote:I returned to Fat Rice last week, and as much as I enjoyed the food on my first visit, I thought the food was even better this second visit. Though flavors could possibly be described as slightly restrained on my first visit, flavors were exploding this second visit. The greatest example here was the Fat Noodles dish. The XO sauce was a little spicier and little fishier and just a bit more assertive than the first time, and all in a good way. Particularly so given the great, chewy texture of the rolled noodles.

    I wish I could recall all of the other dishes we ordered but the online menu is far from being up to date. I think we might have had the crazy squid dish (and maybe one other item), but I'm not willing to bet my life on it (though I will say whatever it was I loved it). We also had the bacon, ramp and egg stir fry Ronnie mentions. This resonated more with my dining companion than it did with me. All of the flavors were great, but personally, I found the bacon slightly dominated the dish. Had this been served over rice, or maybe had the ramps been even slightly pickled, I think I might have loved it.

    We also shared a few items from the pickle portion of the menu. We loved the cauliflower with ginger and lime (and I never love cauliflower). One other item was terrific (if only I could recall which one it was). Neither of us liked the seafood escabeche. We both found it to be too sweet and lacking acidity, and my first bite was an overly fishy, mushy mussel.

    But the overwhelming majority of food was outstanding, bursting with flavor, not restrained, spicy where promised, and just purely enjoyable. I just wish the waits were not so long, but the new bar area a couple of doors down is at least a far better option than waiting around on a street corner, and the servers there are quite friendly and helpful.


    Filling in the missing pieces here, the 3rd pickle dish was jellyfish in a delicious sesame vinaigrette and the Chili clams which were even better than last time. We did have the crazier squid (good, not my favorite). We also shared the dessert they reminds me of banana pudding. Also good, though I enjoyed the fruit dish I had last time a bit more. Fat Rice is so good--I could definitely eat there regularly. And since I'm perfectly happy eating there on the early side during the week, the waits, hopefully, won't be an issue. At 7:00 on a Tues. we waited about a half hour at the most-just long enough to finish half a drink.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #16 - May 5th, 2013, 12:26 pm
    Post #16 - May 5th, 2013, 12:26 pm Post #16 - May 5th, 2013, 12:26 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:
    BR wrote:I returned to Fat Rice last week, and as much as I enjoyed the food on my first visit, I thought the food was even better this second visit. Though flavors could possibly be described as slightly restrained on my first visit, flavors were exploding this second visit. The greatest example here was the Fat Noodles dish. The XO sauce was a little spicier and little fishier and just a bit more assertive than the first time, and all in a good way. Particularly so given the great, chewy texture of the rolled noodles.

    I wish I could recall all of the other dishes we ordered but the online menu is far from being up to date. I think we might have had the crazy squid dish (and maybe one other item), but I'm not willing to bet my life on it (though I will say whatever it was I loved it). We also had the bacon, ramp and egg stir fry Ronnie mentions. This resonated more with my dining companion than it did with me. All of the flavors were great, but personally, I found the bacon slightly dominated the dish. Had this been served over rice, or maybe had the ramps been even slightly pickled, I think I might have loved it.

    We also shared a few items from the pickle portion of the menu. We loved the cauliflower with ginger and lime (and I never love cauliflower). One other item was terrific (if only I could recall which one it was). Neither of us liked the seafood escabeche. We both found it to be too sweet and lacking acidity, and my first bite was an overly fishy, mushy mussel.

    But the overwhelming majority of food was outstanding, bursting with flavor, not restrained, spicy where promised, and just purely enjoyable. I just wish the waits were not so long, but the new bar area a couple of doors down is at least a far better option than waiting around on a street corner, and the servers there are quite friendly and helpful.


    Filling in the missing pieces here, the 3rd pickle dish was jellyfish in a delicious sesame vinaigrette and the Chili clams which were even better than last time. We did have the crazier squid (good, not my favorite). We also shared the dessert they reminds me of banana pudding. Also good, though I enjoyed the fruit dish I had last time a bit more. Fat Rice is so good--I could definitely eat there regularly. And since I'm perfectly happy eating there on the early side during the week, the waits, hopefully, won't be an issue. At 7:00 on a Tues. we waited about a half hour at the most-just long enough to finish half a drink.

    And sorry . . . I edited before you posted.
  • Post #17 - May 24th, 2013, 5:21 pm
    Post #17 - May 24th, 2013, 5:21 pm Post #17 - May 24th, 2013, 5:21 pm
    I've been back to Fat Rice a couple more times since my last post and it seems to get better each time out. The meal documented here took place on a Wednesday evening. We arrived just before they opened at 6 and the place was so busy -- with a line out the door -- that we barely got in on the first seating. If the third person in our party had arrived a few minutes later than he did, we would have been waiting for the first turn. Luckily, he showed up just in time and the 3 of us sat at the counter.

    The food was just spectacular: vibrant, bold, assertive and cooked with finesse. timing and skill. Even with A&A out of this particular night, a definite throwdown was going on.

    Image
    Layin' down the law
    This was the first time I'd seen these new rules. They're posted on the door, and also printed on laminated cards that are circulated throughout the dining room. Now, on to the food, a good deal of which I already attempted to describe in my previous post. Hopefully, the pictures will speak for themselves . . .


    Image
    Octopus & Mussel Escabeche


    Image
    Sweet Soy Burdock


    Image
    Sichuan Eggplant


    Image
    Smoked Barramundi & Green Mango


    Image
    Smoky Tofu & Trumpet Mushrooms


    Image
    Sesame Jellyfish


    Image
    Linguica | house-made pork sausage, chili cabbage, cilantro, ginger, olive


    Image
    Bacalhau | house-made gooseberry cove salt cod, chili, mint, olive, papo seco


    Image
    Grilled Spanish Octopus | romesco, jalapeno, almond, pickled onions


    Image
    Chilli Clam | duet of steamed and fried with vermicelli noodle black bean, garlic butter


    Image
    Sichuan Asparagus | ground pork, peixinho frito, pickled ramps, preserved lemons


    Image
    Pork & Shrimp Potstickers | ghost pepper salsa


    Image
    Piri Piri Chicken | half bird, spicy "African" tomato sauce, grilled potato, peanut, lemon


    Image
    Arroz Gordo (aka Fat Rice) | fragrant Chinese sausage and sofrito-scented rice with Portuguese chicken, roast pork, linguica, salted duck, prawns, tea egg, littleneck clams


    Image
    Pineapple Upside Down Cake | caramel, cream


    Image
    Macau Rice Crisp | nori, sesame, pork floss


    Image
    Serradura | guava, sweet cream, banana, tea biscuit crumb


    Image
    Spring Fruit in Syrup | rhubarb, jackfruit, grapefruit, asian pear, cloud mushroom, mint (kitchen sent this out for us)

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #18 - May 26th, 2013, 8:36 am
    Post #18 - May 26th, 2013, 8:36 am Post #18 - May 26th, 2013, 8:36 am
    I was the third (read: late) person. Thanks for amazing the pics, and documenting the insane amount of dishes ordered (although I could have a few more bites of something else, lol). Amazing amount of dishes consumed. The flavors were broad and exciting. All items prepared according to specifications. Hot sauce (not pictured, photog was busy enjoying), was to die for -- liquid gold. I still love the arroz gordo. It is such a great selection of items, and flavors on the menu, and presented in on one dish. The photo (although taken nicely) does not do it justice. There are so many components in it that every scoopful is different. Next photo project, arroz gordo deconstructed.
  • Post #19 - May 26th, 2013, 9:32 pm
    Post #19 - May 26th, 2013, 9:32 pm Post #19 - May 26th, 2013, 9:32 pm
    yellow truffle wrote:Hot sauce (not pictured, photog was busy enjoying), was to die for -- liquid gold.

    Not that you can see much of it but it's in top left corner of the potsticker shot (in the glass jar).

    yellow truffle wrote:Next photo project, arroz gordo deconstructed.

    Sounds like a fine plan. They keep it pretty dark in there but maybe if we got a seat by one of the windows . . .

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #20 - May 27th, 2013, 9:24 pm
    Post #20 - May 27th, 2013, 9:24 pm Post #20 - May 27th, 2013, 9:24 pm
    Q: what happens when you have less than 500 followers on twitter?
  • Post #21 - June 29th, 2013, 8:09 pm
    Post #21 - June 29th, 2013, 8:09 pm Post #21 - June 29th, 2013, 8:09 pm
    Other than noticing that LTHForum had been buzzing about this place, I deliberately read very little about it before our first chance to visit finally fell into place earlier this week. As an added bonus, we were seated at the kitchen end of the bar, an excellent perch to view the kitchen show and, in the end, have a conversation with Chef Abraham.

    If I was in the neighborhood, I'd be there a lot. The Macanese intersection of cuisine is right in my taste buds' sweet spot. Gut instinct said, as much as the arroz gordo appears to be the thing to get, pass on that for a bigger group and just go for things the two of us could share. A good call, as we were able to try 3 pickled dishes, a small, two mediums, and a large, just taking a small amount home for lunch the next day.

    The absolute stand-out dish for me was the hand rolled noodles with mushroom and egg, seen here: http://instagram.com/p/bFcAs8KaQN/
    The combination of flavors and ingredients, also including baby bok choy, was fantastic. I loved the texture of the noodles in this form, along with the tender mushrooms. Chef Abraham told us on the way out that the XO Sauce is also pretty impressive, so that'll be a must-do next time.

    The po kok gai was great as well, I loved the combination of different proteins that the mussels and chorizo added to the stew. Watching them cook this and the other large dishes in the clay pots is interesting; the stove/grill has some kind of contraption to raise and lower it closer or further from the heat. We also enjoyed the house-made linguiça, though it came to us along with all the pickled snacks and everything had a kick of spice. Those tiny little olives were much-needed relief from the heat.

    I was a little surprised that we were the only non-20-something-hipster-types in the restaurant, but perhaps that is why the Chef came over to talk to us. I was in Spain a few weeks ago, so we bonded over the way that he literally worshipped the jamón iberico. He uses every inch of that ham, saying "if you knew what that product cost, you would understand" - to which I relayed my frequent visits to the jamoneria "muséo de jamon" (Museum of Ham!) in Madrid. Now we were best friends, and Chef was thrilled to hear that we had come in from the suburbs to enjoy Fat Rice.
  • Post #22 - June 29th, 2013, 10:16 pm
    Post #22 - June 29th, 2013, 10:16 pm Post #22 - June 29th, 2013, 10:16 pm
    man, I need to get back to this place.. unfortunately, I normally dine out alone, being fairly new to the city and this seems like a great place to go with some friends so it's possible to try as many dishes as possible. anyway, great pics and descriptions ronnie! Thanks,
  • Post #23 - June 29th, 2013, 10:26 pm
    Post #23 - June 29th, 2013, 10:26 pm Post #23 - June 29th, 2013, 10:26 pm
    valgalder wrote:man, I need to get back to this place.. unfortunately, I normally dine out alone, being fairly new to the city and this seems like a great place to go with some friends so it's possible to try as many dishes as possible. anyway, great pics and descriptions ronnie! Thanks,

    Thanks, for the kind words. The downside to dining alone (at Fat Rice) is that you can't try as many items but the potential upside is that you may get seated more quickly. It seems like needing only a single seat at the counter might possibly result in a shorter-than-typical wait, but that's only a guess. It probably just depends on the seating configuration on any given evening.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #24 - June 30th, 2013, 3:30 am
    Post #24 - June 30th, 2013, 3:30 am Post #24 - June 30th, 2013, 3:30 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Thanks, for the kind words. The downside to dining alone (at Fat Rice) is that you can't try as many items but the potential upside is that you may get seated more quickly. It seems like needing only a single seat at the counter might possibly result in a shorter-than-typical wait, but that's only a guess. It probably just depends on the seating configuration on any given evening.

    =R=


    that's very true.. last time I went to Fat Rice.. albeit it was a few months ago, I was seated right away at the counter.. same with places like Kuma's etc.. but yeah.. definitely more enjoyable to have a companion at least to try and enjoy more stuff with. I do like that the staff here is very friendly and great about explaining and recommending certain things. Always appreciate when a staff member is honest with their own opinions..
  • Post #25 - June 30th, 2013, 8:01 pm
    Post #25 - June 30th, 2013, 8:01 pm Post #25 - June 30th, 2013, 8:01 pm
    Went to this place for the first time Saturday night with my partner, and we were seated right away (around 9:00pm).

    I thought the staff was excellent--they are really into the food! Love talking with them.

    As for the food....maybe my expectations were too high after reading this thread, but I thought the food was "good" and "competent" but not much more than a "B" for a grade. Nothing was exceptional; nothing was amazing. It was good, yes. But more than good? Not really.

    Also....I'm sorry, if you're going to have an open kitchen, keep things organized and not messy. This kitchen was messy. I won't go into details, but guys--keep things neat and not messy. Listen--although I'm not a chef, I've been into plenty of restaurant kitchens, and have had training from chefs--I know a kitchen, even a very busy one, can be kept organized and tidy.

    Anyway, would I go back? As my partner put it, if we lived closer and the prices were cheaper (tab came to $138 for two with only one beer for me and two cocktails for him), yes, I'd go back. But probably not given that I live in River North.

    This is not to bash the restaurant--it was good. But I must admit, I'm a bit perplexed by the raves its been getting here.

    I guess different strokes...
  • Post #26 - August 12th, 2013, 2:05 pm
    Post #26 - August 12th, 2013, 2:05 pm Post #26 - August 12th, 2013, 2:05 pm
    4th out of 10. Congrats!
    http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforum ... map=%5B%5D
  • Post #27 - August 12th, 2013, 2:13 pm
    Post #27 - August 12th, 2013, 2:13 pm Post #27 - August 12th, 2013, 2:13 pm
    robert40 wrote:4th out of 10. Congrats!
    http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforum ... map=%5B%5D

    Congrats, indeed!

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #28 - September 5th, 2013, 12:56 pm
    Post #28 - September 5th, 2013, 12:56 pm Post #28 - September 5th, 2013, 12:56 pm
    I finally got to try this place out. Six people in the group. Got there at the open and waited for about a half hour. Nibbled on the shrimp crackers with hot sauce (great sauce, crackers were pretty standard) and the pickled veggies which were very tasty. In fact, the pickled veggies were some of the most enjoyable items throughout the entire meal for me. By the way, I just noticed on their website that 6 is the max they will seat- we didn't know this coming in. Good thing we didn't plan to have a bigger group.

    We ordered: Sichwan eggplant, Potstickers (pork and shrimp), Cod collar (one of the specials of the day), Salada gordo (salad, tea egg, jamon mangalica, anchovy), some type of pork belly stew which i do not see on the online menu so i can't give you the specific name, Piri piri chicken, Arroz gordo. The Chef gave us a complimentary dish of the "Charlies's peanuts"

    I loved the cod collar (fish was really fresh) although it was a tad too salty even for me, and i love my food highly seasoned. The salada gordo was very nicely dressed. The piri piri was very flavorful- i loved the peanut flavor, and i was happy to see that the breast meat was not overcooked. The arroz gordo was tasty as well- i thoroughly enjoyed the chinese sausage and linguica buried within, as well as the burnt crispy bits on the bottom. Must mention how HUGE the prawns were in the gordo. They were nice and juicy and I enjoyed sucking the heads. They do seem to enjoy using five spice powder, as I tasted it in a number of dishes. The ghost pepper sauce that came with the dumplings ( i think-it's all a blur now) was spicy and flavorful, but not overwhelming, at least for me. it definitely had kick but considering it's one of the hottest peppers, they did a nice job of taming it. All in all, I felt the food was very good- not astounding. The flavors were very familiar to me and kept reminding me of other dishes I've either cooked from the Phillipines or eaten in Chinatown. I wouldn't mind returning but I'm definitely not going to wait two hours, like I've heard some people have had to do. Our waitress, Joanne, was super sweet. They were pretty busy so getting drinks refreshed was a bit slow, but all in all, good service.
  • Post #29 - September 6th, 2013, 8:03 pm
    Post #29 - September 6th, 2013, 8:03 pm Post #29 - September 6th, 2013, 8:03 pm
    Shrimp, sweet corn and ground cherry stir fry, nori and pork Rice Krispie Treat with shallot caramel, and a fantastic linguica. 10 minute walk from the crib, I will be back. In a couple days. Can't believe it took me this long to go.
  • Post #30 - November 1st, 2013, 6:37 am
    Post #30 - November 1st, 2013, 6:37 am Post #30 - November 1st, 2013, 6:37 am
    Does anyone know how long the wait would be on a Tuesday night, early? I'm guessing from the below that I should try and get there when they open. But otherwise, any ideas what it's like around 7 or so?

    buttercream wrote:I finally got to try this place out. Six people in the group. Got there at the open and waited for about a half hour.


    ronnie_suburban wrote:The meal documented here took place on a Wednesday evening. We arrived just before they opened at 6 and the place was so busy -- with a line out the door -- that we barely got in on the first seating. If the third person in our party had arrived a few minutes later than he did, we would have been waiting for the first turn. Luckily, he showed up just in time and the 3 of us sat at the counter.

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