Friday, February 28, 2014

Uncle Mike's Place

Location: 1700 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Uncle Mike's Place on Urbanspoon
A Quick Word:
Somehow, Uncle Mike's Place has evaded my knowledge of Chicago restaurants for many years.  One of my buddies mentioned a Filipino breakfast and I was sold on giving it a try.  Being half Filipino, I had very high expectations.  And, I will gladly say, this breakfast met every one of those expectations.  As soon as you walk in, you realize you are not in a 5-star restaurant, but you see the Filipino employees and the huge variety of customers eating the same Filipino breakfast.  It had to be good... and it was AMAZING.  You can order one protein (tocino, longanisa, bangus, spam, and steak) or, in my case, two.  The prices are a little on the higher side for breakfast, but it is 100% worth it when you see the size of the meal, the side dishes, the complimentary lugao, and the authenticity of the cuisine.  It reminds me of eating in the Philippines.  This was absolutely one of the most memorable meals I have had in Chicago in a while.  I may be biased because it reminds me of my childhood, but I would easily walk more than 5-miles for this food.  And, I know many people that would do the same.  And, for those reasons, perfection was the only rating that would fit!  A must try restaurant!

What I Ate:

Tocino and Bangus Combo Breakfast

It was a hard decision for me to only choose two of the proteins offered for their Filipino breakfast, but it had to be done.  I went with the Tocino and Bangus combo.  This massive breakfast comes with a whole order of tocino (specially marinated pork shoulder), a deep fried bangus, garlic fried rice topped with two eggs (my choice was sunny side up), a bowl of chocolate-coconut tapioca, and a couple of different vinegar concoctions--the first with tomatoes, patis (fish sauce), and vinegar and the other with vinegar, garlic, and black pepper.  I was  ABSOLUTELY AMAZED when the dish arrived at our table.  It was a huge breakfast and as authentic as it gets.  The bangus was my first bite.  It was fried to perfection, de-boned, and tasted amazing dipping into the vinegar and garlic.  The tocino had that sweet, yet salty flavor to it and had a good fat-to-meat ratio.  It was tender and plentiful.  Pop those two yolks over the garlic fried rice and pour the tomato-vinegar mixture on top and enjoy.  All of the components and flavors are meant to compliment each other... the acidity, the sweetness, the saltiness... WOW.  I took a picture for my mom and she can't wait to visit Uncle Mike's Place.  The combo breakfast was only a couple dollars more ($12), so definitely think about getting two proteins.  You will not be disappointed!

Lugao

The restaurant won me over with their daily made lugao, which is given complimentary to every customer! Lugao is a Filipino version of congee or a rice porridge made with chicken and chicken broth.  Their version has very finely ground rice and was topped with fried garlic, scallions, and a piece of tofu.  I have seen other places use chicharrones and even different types of egg.  Not only is it complimentary, it is a huge portion.  They give everyone a bowl, which is perfect for the cold weather the city has been dealing with.  The lugao was spot on, reminding me of my mom's!  There was plenty of pulled chicken meat.  The fried garlic added a complex flavor to the soup.  Everyone needs to try this and see why I crave this childhood dish.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
DO:
- Free parking along Grand.  Plenty of it too!
- They are open fairly early so keep this place in mind for breakfast.
- My buddies ordered the steak and the longanisa.  They also loved it, so definitely check those two combos also.  Spam is also available and will be my next choice!

DON'T:
- Don't order anything else on the menu.  The filipino breakfast is the GREATEST!  I promise, try it and you will not be disappointed

How far would I walk for this food?


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