Yesterday’s lunch

From time to time I meet reader Simon—a cancer researcher who moved here from Vanderbilt—to sample the fare of a local restaurant. Yesterday we went to an acclaimed place that specializes in the food of Macau: Fat Rice. The restaurant, on West Diversey Avenue, is hard to spot because the name is very inconspicuous: on the red-and-yellow poster on the door:

It’s a cozy and crowded restaurant. There are tables but we ate at the bar, washing down the food with a few brewskis:
Our meal started with an appetizer: boiled pork and ginger dumplings in Szechuan sauce:

And we split the house speciality, Arroz Gordo (“Fat rice”), a paella-like dish made with curried chicken, barbecued pork, linguica, chilli prawns, clams, croutons, ginger, a leaf I couldn’t identify, and a big pile of rice underneath, which was slightly charred and crunch at the bottom. Delicious! I don’t remember this dish from when I visited Macau last November, so it may be a case of cultural appropriation.



  1. Posted June 12, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I had to stop and think for a moment about ‘arroz gordo’ – then remembered the Portuguese influence in Macau. Then remembered that in Spanish, is would be ‘arroz graso’ as in fat food not fat person 🙂 And for what it’s worth: 胖饭

  2. Jose
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Jerry, but that doesn’t look like paella at all, neither the picture nor your description.

    • Posted June 12, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Hmm – why not? Seafood, meat and veggies on top of a pile of rice……

      • Jose
        Posted June 12, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Well, that description is not paella either. In paella, seafood, meat and veggies are not on top of the rice, are mixed with it (even cooked with it. Something you could call a “paella like” dish would be, for example, Jambalaya, which I could taste in a recent visit to the proud New Orleans. But even that would be a bad comparison. Paella refers exactly to the kind of ingredients (in purity, there’s no such thing as “seafoo paella” for example), the cooking method and, for the most part, the kind of cooking pan from which the dish takes it’s name, paellera.

        • Posted June 12, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink


        • Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Wikipedia gives a less “pure” description of paella:

          • Jose
            Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, that’s right. Actually, paella and how to make it is kind of a national hot topic in spain (you can guess it comparing the size of the english and spanish wikipedia entries). Myself I have no problem in calling a seafood or mixed one (meat and seafood) paella. Is a national dish (spain) or regional dish (Valencia, where it originated)? Artichokes or not? Snails? Long or short grain rice? etc. But if there is a single defining thing is the pan.

            You see, in east mediterranean (Italy and spain) I have identified at least three main and distinctive methods of cooking rice; in broad strokes:

            Rissotto in italy, with a base of butter, onion and broth (and forgive me italians if I am wrong) and the dish is constanly stirred until finished, with great variation in recipes and ingredients.

            “Arroz” in spain, simple named for the spanish word for rice, which could be “dry” or brothy (caldoso), cooked in a deep pan or pot, and with a great variation in recipes and ingredients too, usually not stirred after you add the rice.

            And paella and/or paella like dishes, made with the paellera pan, rice not stirred afterd added, and with small variations in recipes and ingredients.

            An the in the three of them rice is always cooked partially at the same with the rest of ingredients. With all that what I mean to say is that paella-like dishes is not a wide category. Neither an italian nor a spanish would say rissotto is a paella-like dish, much less “fat rice”. And we know what we are talking about! But don’t worry, I won’t shout cultural apropiation.

            • Posted June 13, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

              I think you’ll find that any “stereotypical dish” from any region or country arouses “no true haggis” moves. 🙂

              Also endless Wikipedia edit wars if the dish is claimable or related to others from other countries. (Shwarma comes to mind, or curry.)

        • Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

          I said “paella-like” for crying out loud!

          • Jose
            Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

            Ok, sorry. I correct myself in my answer to douglas. What he is describing is not “paella like” either.

            • Stephen Barnard
              Posted June 12, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

              The important thing is that it looked great, at least as good as paella in my opinion. 🙂

  3. Hempenstein
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Nice tower/turret on that place!

  4. Charlie Jones
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    WOW–that lunch sounds delicious! I wish I could visit Chicago more often.

  5. Michael Fisher
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    The crispy rice is a Persian invention called tahdig [tah = bottom, dig = pot] – it goes very well with plain, unsweetened, live, sour yoghurt [Greek yoghurt for example]. Overly complex method, but good pics! here:

    It’s a beautiful thing! Easy to master
    ** Always use fragrant Basmati rice of the best quality [there’s a lot of shyster ‘Basmati’ out there]
    ** Thick-bottom pot is best, especially if cooking with the type of electric hob that switches on/off continuously as some do
    ** nearly air tight pot lid – use cloth or foil + weight on lid if lid is a sloppy fit
    ** Use butter or butter/oil mix rather than just oil. I haven’t yet found an oil that tastes as nice as butter
    ** you can flavour the rice with saffron or other things, but it’s not needed IMO
    ** the lowest possible heat you can achieve is best & then be patient for 40 mins or whatever. You stop when it sounds & smells [a hint of burning] ‘done’

  6. Mark R.
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    There’s a newish cookbook out named Fat Rice. I got it from the library last week and looked up the recipe. A difficult looking dish to prepare with lots of specialty ingredients. Ingredient-wise, it looks very similar to Jerry’s version. A garnish is a “tea egg”. In that pile in the photo, it looks like there is an off-colored egg in the middle and at 9 o’clock. I was curious because you didn’t mention it in your description; as if it would be easy to remember all those components! 🙂

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      sorry for embedding. Though it is a cool cover.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      I hadn’t read the sub-title until just now. It looks like this cookbook is based on recipes from the very restaurant we’re discussing. sheesh.

    • Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes, there was a halved hard-boiled egg in there; not sure it was a tea egg, as I do make those occasionally.

      I forgot!

  7. George
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Why wasn’t I invited?

    • dabertini
      Posted June 12, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink


  8. Darren Garrison
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    New bit of insanity for you, oh brilliant, genius flare-y PCC.

  9. Posted June 13, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never encountered a Macau restaurant. I wonder if there are any in (say) Vancouver or Toronto, where there are more Chinese.

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