Mac and cheese? More like Macanese

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Imagine you’re in Macau, eating Macanese food. Rich flavours and spices fill your mouth. The bread that the server brings is used to sop up the butter sauce remains of the prawns and the combination of the bread and butter melts on your tongue. Picture the beautiful beach and sunset as you enjoy fresh seafood with sauteed vegetables and rice. Maybe you can’t go to Macau, but one of the next best experiences is to taste its rich flavours here in Chicago.

In 2012, Macanese inspired restaurant Fat Rice, opened just north of Logan Square in Chicago. Combining flavours from all around the world—Europe, Southeast Asia, South Asia, China, Portugal, and India among others—Abraman Conlon, Adrienne Lo and Hugh Amano began a restaurant with only a small amount of savings. This business would soon boom into one of the most desired restaurants with a long waiting list. In the almost unnoticeable location, Fat Rice is full of life. Whether you want potstickers, fish pie, clams, or pig’s ear salad, all you have to do is ask. Waiters rush between the tables and kitchen to serve hot food to the customers. Meanwhile, newcomers await the next free table patiently.

As you sit down to order, one of the friendly waiters rushes over to offer the history of the restaurant and its owner. You quickly become engaged in the story as you travel around the globe to the origin of the idea. Dishes on the menu are explained and suggested along with drinks that seem abnormal because of their unusual names. Each dish becomes intriguing and you want to try them all. The menu offers a family style meal and the food comes out as soon as it is ready. As you stuff yourself beyond belief, the food warms your belly and soul.

The ultimate dish is the restaurant’s namesake, Arroz Gordo (“Fat Rice”). Full of some part of nearly every other dish in the restaurant, you can barely finish the bowl. Atop a base of rise, duck, and raisins, is the protein—egg, sausage, pork, prawns, chicken and clams—prepared with different sauces and seasonings with pickled chillies, portuguese olives, and chilli lemon. Similar to paella, the dish is full of secrets and rich elements. The meal is meant to be shared, and therefore is catered to parties of every size.

Within the small restaurant, are two other related restaurants, The Ladies Room and The Bakery at Fat Rice, which provide other options. The Bakery offers desserts and pastries made each morning all day, some of which are seasonal and many made with palm sugar (giving the dish an amazing taste!).