To celebrate the last day of school yesterday, I drove my kids through the Chicago noon rush hour for a Southeast Asian smorgasbord. We didn’t have a ton of time before my youngest son’s doctor appointment, but would make the most of it.
I’ve blogged before about our amazing meals at Fat Rice, Chicago’s only Macanese restaurant. They’ve recently added some Southeast Asian dishes to their new lunch menu, so we went all out and ordered each of the four entrees for one adult, one teenager, and two young kids. And of course we had no leftovers!
After the initial chaos when my youngest knocked over his full glass of ginger-lemon soda, things calmed down after that. We started with nasi lemak, a Malaysian coconut rice dish surrounded by small salted fish, peanuts, greens, pickled cabbage, a tea egg, hot chili paste, cucumber, and chicken.
Abe Conlon, one of the owners, brought us the dish and explained how to serve it. We were to mix all the ingredients together, and could adjust the amount of spice by adding more or less of the chili paste. My youngest two kids fought over the tea eggs, but ended up asking for more of the salted fish.
Our next dish was the zhu-pa-bao, or porkchop bun. Since I don’t eat pork, I let number one son do the honors. My younger two tried some of pork and devoured the crab chips.
Next up: curry laksa! Like nasi lemak, I first tried laksa on a SE Asian vacation with my mom when I was 20. The four of us loved this coconut curry soup with noodles, fried tofu cubes, bean sprouts, cucumber, basil, green onion, red chili pepper, and what I think is fried onion on top.
Since my oldest son doesn’t eat eggs, the tea eggs that came with the laksa were served on the side. I can never pass up a chance to eat tea eggs (mainly because I’ve tried to make them twice and have miserably failed both times!). These, however, are just perfect! A subtle tea and star anise flavor with a yolk that’s moist and fluffy.
We also had their delicious piri piri chicken, the only dish I’d had before at Fat Rice (but that was two Chinese New Years ago). Piri piri chicken has a distinct and delicious tomato peanut sauce. It wasn’t as spicy as the other dishes, but was just as flavorful.
Since we were pressed for time, I asked the other owner, Adrienne Lo, if we could get a couple Portuguese egg tarts to go. If you have to have one dessert at Fat Rice, it should be the Portuguese egg tarts (although the other desserts are all amazing, too). I paid, we grabbed the bag of egg tarts, and rushed off to the doctor appointment. When I opened the bag after the appointment, I found more than a couple of egg tarts. They didn’t last the ride home!
Thank you, Adrienne and Abe, for your generous hospitality! We can’t wait to go back!