About 2 years ago I started this blog because I was living in a corporate “food desert” of sorts. There were 2 quick lunch options around and, for a person who tends not to bring their lunch, that got old quick. Now, I work in an area where there are quite a few options but yet they all seem pretty homogenous. They’re chains. On Monday May 7 a restaurant is opening that I already crave: Saucy Porka. And, it just so happens that it has deep food truck roots.
Amy Le, who started Duck N Roll, is opening this breakfast-lunch joint in the heart of the financial district. I invited a hungry, food-loving friend and we ordered way too many items on the menu for our stomachs to bear (our eyes thought it was a phenomenal idea). In fact, the menu was a wonderful oasis in an area desolate of fresh ingredients and tastiness yet laden with a gajillion fast food chains (side note: a nearby chain is owned by one of the corporations who testified to continue to exile food trucks from the city center *coughwowbaocough*).
The concept is a Latin-Asian fusion restaurant. There are menu items familiar to food truck x
freaks who have tried Le’s fare, layered with the delish dishes from the talented Chef Rafael Lopez, who once worked for the Wagyu Wagon food truck. While there are Latin-Asian fusion restaurants in Chicago, the best way we can distinguish this one is that it feels honest yet inventive.
Here’s what the two of us ordered (don’t judge):
- Chorizo Egg Roll Chihuahua cheese, sweet potato, red cabbage, onion avocado aioli: Not gonna lie, can’t pass up an egg roll. This could have easily gone super greasy, with the chorizo and fried-ness and such, but it wasn’t. This was the dish that was gone just as quickly as it was set on our table.
- Umami Nachos topped with your choice of pork, chicken or meatless with scallions, pineapple, tomatoes, and queso fresco cheese: We didn’t get meat on ours, and neither of us are fans of pineapple nor tomato. I know, why the heck did we order it? It still sounded great, and Le’s mango salsa is a long-time fave, and this did not dissapoint. The chips were substantial enough to hold the hefty toppings, but they tasted light enough that we still had room for the entrees. We did note though that there wasn’t a stand-out ingredient of the dish, we missed a power player like something spicy or salty. Bacon? Jalapeño? We had solid Pipens and Rodmans, but longed for a Jordan.
- Curry Sweet Potato Fries served with queso fresco cheese. My +1 ordered this. If there are 2 things I don’t like it’s sweet potatoes and curry, so I had little interest in this. After one bite, I reconsidered it all. Of all our apps, this was the one that was so craveable and perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing.
- Asian Style Paella served with Chinese Lap Chang pork sausage, chorizo, edamame, scallions, and cilantro. The sausage wasn’t the crumbled Mexican-stlye chorizo I expected; it was sliced sausage-style chorizo (not true Spanish style either, it was less greasy and more subtle). The pork was the mouth-watering protein in this dish, doled out in mouth-water chunks atop a bed of beautifully seasoned rice with its trusty spicy sausage sidekick playing a complimentary Robin to its Batman.
- Domo Arigato miso braised beef short ribs served on French baguette topped with a pickled Asian slaw: My friend got this and, as a baco virgin, didn’t know what to expect. She recognized the dough from baos, but seemed to appreciate the presence of the slaw that balanced out the heftiness of the meat and masa (what do you call bao dough/bread?)
- Cupcakes Our food truck-loving conscience told us we couldn’t leave without trying the two cupcakes Flirty Cupcakes food truck made especially for Saucy Porka. Yes, you can get food truck fare at this brick-and-mortar! We even heard other food truck owners lent their support to help prepare for the night; that’s the kind of love food truck owners have for one another hear (eat that, NYC). One was a Mexican Chocolate cupcake and the other was a Ginger Lemon cupcake. We thought it was pretty cool that the two had collaborated to create desserts that weren’t just there to have a sweet to finish the meal, but they were thoughful and meaningful collaborations. I was hoping for a more potent ginger presence in the Ginger Lemon cupcake, but l liked that the frosting was so thick it legit cut like butter. For those of you who have read this blog for a hot minute, you know I don’t have a sweet tooth; I’ll defer to you all to rate these cup-sized cakes.
If you are downtown in the near future between the hours of 8am-4pm, let your behind over to Saucy Porka. They open Monday May 7, so let’s support Amy! We’ll be back opening day to wrap both a figurative and literal hug around Ms. Le, and hope to see you there too! Also, though our eyes were roughly 12x the size of our stomaches, there is a significant portion of the menu we have yet to eat through, so tell everyone what you think in the comments below!
400 S. Financial Pl (Cross St: Wells, a couple doors down from Dunkin’)
Open Monday – Friday 8am-4pm