Saucy Porka new option for Loop lunch
November 9, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Not all partnerships work. But for some reason, the sweet and savory offerings at Saucy Porka - tucked away along a tiny street near the El across from the Stock Exchange building - manage to play nice.
"When we co-created the menu together we decided we really wanted to stay authentic to the flavors that we grew up with and not try to be too kitschy," said Amy Le, one of the two chefs at Saucy Porka.
Bacos are essentially Chinese bao served like a taco in a steamed, Taiwanese gua bao bun.
"I grew up eating baos with Peking duck and plum sauce on top of it, and then obviously Rafael grew up eating a lot of different variety of tacos, so I was like, why don't we combine the two and create like a baco," she said.
Miso-braised beef shortribs are showered with pineapple salsa, while Thai chicken curry is dressed with an Asian slaw. Another mashup, the Saucy Porka sandwich. Pressed like a Cuban, the French bread is loaded with slow-cooked pork carnitas then crowned with funky, fiery kimchi cabbage. Even the Asian-style paella somehow works.
"You can't go anywhere in Puerto Rico - or most of Latin America - without having a traditional arroz dish that usually has pigeon peas," said Le.
Here, those gandules are replaced by edamame; the sofrito and coconut milk-laced rice is enhanced by Chinese sausage and chorizo. Even desserts get fused. Like the banana-nutella-stuffed beignets.
"Vietnam has a lot of French influence in it, so we wanted to do kind of, it's almost a churro/beignet mix that we do with the dough," said Le.
A lot of people get down on fusion for some reason, but whatever Saucy Porka is doing works. Right down to the condiments on the table: here's your sriracha for your Asian influence; your Cholula hot sauce for Mexican influence, and honestly, it all works together great.
The restaurant is only open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. during the week. They're closed weekends.
400 S. Financial Pl
restaurants, steve dolinsky
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