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Fat Rice Serves Up Asian Favorites by Way of Portugal

By Victoria Johnson | November 30, 2012 5:08pm

LOGAN SQUARE — Without knowing the back story, Fat Rice's menu can look a little perplexing.

Under the appetizer menu are the Chinese standard potstickers, but also available is linguiça, or salada gordo (Portuguese for sausage and fat salad, respectively). Likewise for the entrees, there's the Balichang Catfish, named for the city in China, or the Portuguese Chicken, made with mussels, chorizo and curry.

To owners Adrienne Lo and Abraham Conlon the Asian-by-way-of-Europe seemed quite natural. Sure, Lo's ancestry is Chinese and Conlon's Portuguese, but the pair were drawing from something deeper that — good old colonialism.

"We're interested in preserving a lot of these kind of historic recipes and exploring their origins, and then adding our own touch to things we love," Conlon, 31, said.

Fat Rice, located at 2957 W. Diversey Ave., opened on Nov. 16 and currently serves dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Conlon said they hope to be open for lunch and carry-out early next year.

As the Fat Rice website says, the menu is influenced by "the Euro-Asian unions of China, India  and Southeast Asia's colonial past," but more specifically from the regions colonized and influenced by Portuguese travels over the last 500 years.

To that end, Fat Rice draws from the lesser known cuisines of Goa, in India, Macau in China, and East Timor. And while it's not in Asia, the menu also features some dishes inspired by the former Portuguese colony in Angola, Africa.

"It's kind of this full circle thing," Conlon said, adding, "This has already been done. This has already way been done a long time ago. But not a lot of people know about it."