Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: I’d been anxious to try this restaurant for months now, totally intrigued by the idea of blending Portuguese, Macau, and other global street-food influences, and further convinced by the owners’ other ventures – much-lauded underground dinners and irresistibly delicious nuts that are beloved at my neighborhood farmers’ market. Perhaps predictably at this point, I was so blown away by the whole meal that I couldn’t pick just one best bite. I loved my cocktail, sweetened by vanilla and tamarind with a licorice kick from star anise. I loved the colorful trio of pickles, giving eggplant, peanuts, and cauliflower a new sweet-and-sour character. I loved the potstickers, with an eye-catching lattice of crispy dough still holding them together on the plate, and the silky, spicy pumpkin soup. There was enough going on in the fat noodles and Portuguese chicken to keep my palate constantly engaged, and the serradura dessert’s dreamy guava-banana layers made for spoonful after spoonful of happiness.
We did pass on the eponymous fat rice dish, which can be ordered as a prix-fixe meal with soup, vegetable, and dessert, so I already have a built-in excuse to go back. If you go, plan to arrive as close to the 6 p.m. opening time as possible (or even join the line that forms beforehand) to avoid long waits in the already crowded space.
The details: Fat Rice, 2957 W Diversey Ave., Chicago.