This week’s Best Bite: Hong Kong-style French toast, eggplant & more, Cha Gordo brunch at Fat Rice

Hong Kong-style French toast, radish cake, minchi hash, Fat Rice
Peanut butter and banana-stuffed Hong Kong-style French toast with jam and fruit; pan-fried radish cake with stir-fried seasonal vegetables; minchi hash with stir-fried minced pork and beef, sunny egg, coconut rice, and bok choi

Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: Since opening in Logan Square just under two years ago, Fat Rice has quickly become a darling of the Chicago restaurant scene and has even earned national attention for its Macanese cuisine, a distinctive fusion of Chinese and Portuguese flavors. Even though I’ve blogged about Fat Rice before, the Cha Gordo (or “Fat Tea,” a spin on Macanese high tea) brunch was a unique enough experience to merit its own post. The dim sum menu made it easy to try more dishes than at an average morning meal, so we ordered a little of everything.

I have to begin with the Hong Kong–style French toast, a decadent study in contrasts. The peanut butter-banana filling and peach-berry compote were comforting and familiar, but otherwise, the toast was out of the box: it was deep-fried in a batter spiked with lime zest, then scattered with slivers of young coconut and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. It was what might result if a school lunch PB&J went on an exotic vacation. I couldn’t get enough. The minchi hash, reminiscent of Korean bibimbap, and the unexpectedly smoky pan-fried radish cake were both excellent as well.

Sweet and sour stuffed eggplant, Fat Rice
Sweet and sour stuffed eggplant with shrimp and pork

This brunch also strengthened my conviction that the eggplant at Fat Rice is just better than the eggplant anywhere else. The texture of each slice was soft without being mushy, soaking up an irresistible sweet-and-sour sauce, and the shrimp and pork stuffing added a richer dimension that felt very brunch-appropriate. We also wanted to make sure to partake in the “tea” portion of the Cha Gordo, so we shared a boozy carafe of black tea mixed with spiced whiskey, sweet vermouth, tea shrub, and mint. While I’d gladly drink it year-round, it really set the mood for a laid-back feast amidst flowers, string lights, and fresh air on the charming side patio.

Boozy bourbon tea
Carafe of boozy bourbon tea with spiced whiskey, sweet vermouth, black tea, tea shrub, and mint

The details: Fat Rice, 2957 W. Diversey Ave., Chicago.

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