We love a good pop up restaurant
On August 13, Chefs Club New York announced their fourth Chef-in-Residence, Abraham Conlon. Colon is co-owner of the famous Chicago restaurant called Fat Rice where guests can enjoy a wide variety of global foods that were prepared with traditional techniques. And what is so neat about Chefs Club is that it is essentially a pop-up restaurant that is inspired by the resident Chef, in this case, Colon. Fat Rice blends the flavors and foods from all over Asia including China, India, and even brings the flavors from the colonial roots of Portugal. And last Friday we got the chance to experience an amazing tasting from Fat Rice and let me tell you, we were blown away.
Upon walking in, we noticed how cute and chic this place is. The décor takes inspiration from the Chinese red light district, specifically drawing inspiration from “The Ladies Room”. The energy around this restaurant is cool, calm, relaxed, but has this level of edge and sophistication to it. We were seated by the counter where we got to look into the kitchen and see how all of the food was being made. The menu itself is diverse and draws inspiration from cultures from all around Asia. And everything that was featured on this menu looked delicious.
What is cool about this menu is that it tells you what region the dish takes inspiration from, so we were able to have an idea of what foods, spices, flavors, and cooking styles these regions have. We started off with the presunto which is made up of peaches, Fermin Iberico ham, basil, and burnt vinegar. This was a good dish, similar to what you would find on any Italian charcuterie plate. The ham had the salty and smoky flavor that paired well with the peaches’ sweetness and the burnt vinegar cuts through with some acidity that isn’t too forceful. I also realized after eating this dish that I may be allergic to peaches, so I had to take some time to recover after eating it. But, given the choice to eat it again with this knowledge, I have to say that the offer would be extremely tempting.
Our next meal was the Portuguese Cheese which was made of sao Jorge, pineapple jam, mustard greens, and a house salt cracker. The cheese itself was a very sharp cheese, although not overbearing where it destroys your senses. And the pineapple jam was delicious. The sweetness was a lot but I think as long as you pair it with the cheese, the sharpness and sweetness balance out. And the house salt cracker was addicting both by itself and as a vessel to eat the cheese and jam. I enjoyed the side of mustard greens because the bitterness of the greens sort of cleansed my palette from the cheese and jam.
Our next dish was the Polvo which is made of braised octopus, red wine, cinnamon, piri piri, potatoes, and preserved peppers. I am a huge sucker for potatoes in any situation and when cutting through this potato, my fork went in like it was cutting butter. The potato itself was creamy and when you sop it up with the red wine sauce it makes for a lovely bite. The octopus itself was cooked really well and was very tender. The acidity from the red wine came through very prominently in this dish and supplemented the flavor of the octopus greatly.
We then had the Chili Prawns made with a Vinho Verde butter sauce, which we were told by our waiter that it was a must-have. This dish is messy but in a good way. I thought it was fun to sever the head of a prawn yourself and suck the meat out. However, this dish is spicy from the chili, so if you can handle spicy foods then go for it. Otherwise, you will be sweating. The chili paired well with the natural sweetness of the prawn though. And the butter sauce added a great richness that helped cut up the spiciness from the chili. That being said, still a pretty spicy dish. But, very, very good.
Our last dish before we tapped out from being too full was the Pork Cheek Vindalho. This dish is made with pork cheek, Eurasian achar, and charred scallion. The second this dish got to the table, it filled up our space with this sweet but spicy aroma. This in itself made us excited to eat it because you don’t always get the chance to experience food right off the bat with your nose. That seems a little pretentious, and hey, maybe it is, but once you order this dish you’ll understand. The pork was cooked so well and basically melted in your mouth. The sauce added a sweetness with a slight tang at the end when it hits your tongue. Paired with the pork cheek the savoriness from the pork balanced well with the sweetness, and once the tang set in, it left you wanting more.
Overall, the meal at Fat Rice was one of the best meals we have had. The experience in itself was amazing, having the décor look very chic and cool. The food was to die for. There was so much complex flavors and spice added that it was an easy sell for us to like it. If you need a new place to go and try, please go to Fat Rice located at Chefs Club New York. It won’t be here for too long!