Brunch is a game that Logan Squarists take seriously. From hearty fare like chilaquiles and migas, to the comforting classics like french toast and biscuits and gravy, to the holy trinity of eggs, bacon, and toast/taters, this neighborhood has it all. But every once in awhile, you might want to switch gears and try something else — good thing Logan Square delivers.
We went on a mini brunch tour of Logan Square looking for something different and ended up sending our taste buds and bellies to various parts of Asia. Between traditional Malaysian dishes and modern twists on Japanese flavors, these spots are serious brunch game changers.
Fat Rice (2957 W. Diversey Ave.)
Our brunch adventure began at local Macanese restaurant Fat Rice, where traditional southern Chinese cuisine meets Portuguese flavors. We started with a round of cocktails (obviously) and partook in their Bloody Mary, Boozy Bourbon Tea, and Mango Mimosa. From satisfyingly savory to refreshingly fruity, it was a great way to start the day. One of our companions went with a little pot of the dark, smoky Kickin’ Nina House Blend tea, which was a perfect way to warm up on that particularly chilly day.
The menu isn’t bogged down by pages and pages of options, so it didn’t take us long to figure out what we all wanted. The perks of dining with your squad? Getting to order pretty much one of each entree.
But first, we started with the boiled pork and ginger dumplings which were sitting in a delicious, tangy sauce. We tried the Zhu-Pa-Bao, which was a monstrous pork chop sandwiched between a more modestly sized, freshly baked, crusty bread made in house. Some spicy mustard added a bit of zing and the crab chips on the side were almost as addictive as fries.
The Melakan Clams are, unfortunately, not on the current menu but by all accounts, the dish was light but flavorful. The Minchi Hash was comfort in a bowl with the minced pork and beef, coconut rice, and sunny side up egg (it’s not brunch unless there’s a runny yolk somewhere). The Chai Tow Kway was incredibly hearty with the sweet Chinese sausage, chewy radish cakes, and scrambled eggs on top – that dish will definitely stick to your ribs (i.e. soak up any of last night’s revelry). The meal ended on a sweet note with the Portuguese Egg Tarts which were a delightful creamy, flaky treat.
Yusho (2853 N. Kedzie Ave.)
For our next stop, we crossed over to Japan for Yusho’s brunch. Ramen was king on this menu which, like Fat Rice, didn’t boast an endless amount of choices. They offer a prix fixe option where $25 will get you a choice of ramen, a drink, and dessert. I think you know where we went with this one.
We ordered a round of mango rum punches which were tart, refreshing, and not overly boozy. Two of us selected the Spicy Chicken Ramen with bok choy, pickled cucumbers, and nori. It was warm, definitely spicy, and the pickles added a bit of zip and brightness. The rest of us went with the Pork Miso Ramen with pancetta, braised pork shoulder, and a poached egg (hello, runny yolks) which was meaty and rich, with a bit of crunch from some bean sprouts.
And since heaping bowls of delicious, deeply flavorful ramen weren’t enough we ordered the 2X Fried Chicken for the table. The chicken was juicy, the skin was extra crispy, and the chile dipping sauce added some creaminess and heat to the dish. The entire meal was incredibly satiating and soul-warming but to top it off, there was their seasonal soft serve. The flavor of the day was angostura with a chocolate chip on top – it was a little sweet, a little spicy, and the perfect way to round out another amazing stop on our brunch tour.
Serai (2169 N. Milwaukee Ave.)
Our journey around Asia ended in Malaysia at the newly opened Serai with a much needed ladies brunch. Just to note, Serai isn’t exclusively Malaysian; they offer a small selection of Chinese and Thai fare as well, such as Kung Pao chicken and Pad Thai. And while they technically don’t have a specific brunch menu they do open at 11:00 am on Sundays and Saturdays, which makes it fair game in my book. And once you eat at Serai, you’ll wish they were open for breakfast, too.
If dining at the city’s only Malaysian restaurant isn’t enough to get you in the door, Serai is also BYOB. We started the last leg of our brunch adventure with DIY mimosas and bellinis, and an order of the pan fried pork potstickers before perusing their extensive menu. The dumplings came out quickly and were deliciously plump, chewy, and meaty.
Our group was craving noodles that afternoon and went with the Drunken Noodles with beef and the Char Koay Teow. The Drunken Noodles are a classic Thai favorite and didn’t disappoint. With the basil, vegetables, and peanuts this dish was salty and savory with a light touch of sweetness. The Malaysian Char Koay Teow was at once different and familiar with its soy and chili sauce punctuated by flavors of shrimp and squid.
We also sampled the Malaysian national dish, Nasi Lemak, which is a coconut rice dish accompanied with vegetables, a scrambled egg, an oversized shrimp chip, and your choice of protein. We went with the Ayam Merah, a crispy fried chicken adorned with a sweet chili sauce. Between the sweet coconut rice, the salty crispy chicken, and the token egg, it was my kind of comfort food.
So, if you’re looking to jazz up your brunch game, we hope you’ll try one of these incredibly delicious restaurants!