nostalgia at the rice table

8:01 PM Sian Mei Yeoh 0 Comments

pop-up restaurants? whaatttt?? 

this is a fairly new term to me and i've never come across it until recently when i was browsing through timeout chicago website and found this new concept of "pop-up restaurants". a pop-up restaurant refers to a dining establishment that is open one or some nights of the week, usually in an existing restaurant or a commercial food establishment.

one of these pop-up restaurants i found was the rice table that serves authentic indonesian cuisine usually at the sip coffee house around the west loop area. the mastermind behind this is a mother&son team who share their family recipes and culture through their food every other friday. the events are usually found on either their facebook page or website where you can also find the prix fixe menu for the week. oh, did i mention it's byob? and it's cash only so make sure you have some cash before you head over there.

xy and i decided to give it a shot a few weeks ago and i figured since indonesia is close enough to malaysia, their food should have some similarities. and i was craving for spicy malaysian food.

sip coffee house is a very cute coffee place with a vintage style to boot. i am a sucker for the comfy, familiar and cozy type of ambience.

i didn't bring any drinks of my own (they offer water, no worries) so i thought i might just order a refreshing italian soda which was very good. upon the recommendation of the staff, i tried the blackberry mojito drink which i thought was very delicious. 

while we were waiting for the ppl to set up the dining area at the back, i spotted the rice table crew doing last minute prep for the dinner service.

the dining area was minimalist with its own personality. interesting features were the beautiful art pieces on the wall that you can purchase and the chairs were not all consistently the same. i remembered that distinctly because another customer was trying out to see which chair was most comfortable. lol. since we were one of the first people there, we could pick wherever we would like to sit. there was also outdoor seating if you prefer to enjoy the evening outside.

we knew what the prix fixe menu was for that evening but i failed to connect that the menu was leaning more towards the chinese style of food until i tried the food.

they started us out with some crispy and yummy shrimp crackers. either we were really hungry or the chips were really very tasty or both, we found ourselves quickly munching it away until it was all gone and was sad that there was none left but our friendly server came around asked us if we wanted more to which we enthusiastically said yes. 

the dinner was served family style with a serving bowl of rice and if we wanted more food we could have requested extra (without extra cost to us if i am not mistaken)

i wouldn't go too much in detail about each dish they serve but i think our favorite was probably the omelette because of the different ingredients that combined in the omelette and to top it off with the sweet ginger tomato sauce was really different. i really liked the tofu too because it had a slight kick from the serrano peppers (probably the only spicy dish that was present). in general, the food was pretty tasty including the roast pork (be scarce with the sauce though cos it is really salty). the owner/mom (is my guess) came by and asked us if we enjoyed the food which we did. 

the biggest pull to us from this dining experience was not the food but what the memory the food served evoked. the food itself was the essence of what homemade food is - it didn't taste anything at all like restaurant food. when we had the first taste of the dishes, we were transported back to our home and to our moms' cooking. very nostalgic.

while the food wasn't amazing (it was good, don't get me wrong), the nostalgia and the homemade aspect of the food made the experience worth the cost. we both agreed that we would like to return when they offer the spicier options on their prix fixe.

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others