[Photograph: Josh Coy]

I had two conflicting thoughts when the server brought out my sandwich with a jovial, "Can I get you some Sriracha for that?" (1) This sandwich is so lifelessly flavor-challenged that only a healthy jolt of the red rooster could possibly revive it, or (2) this place loves the heat and would gladly scorch my face off if I knew the password, but since I didn't, I'd have to self-apply the burn.

Luckily, it was the latter. And about that sandwich... ripe with thoughtful flavors and loved up with Filipino spices, the Country Bird ($9) starts with "our birds don't do drugs" boneless, flour-dusted crunchy fried chicken, which is cut into thin, crispy pieces. It is then adorned with smoky, shaved Gouda and fresh Roma tomatoes. A few sprigs of cilantro add what lettuce never really does, another layer of flavor. The shaved onion salad with calamansi vinaigrette either gets lost in its own subtlety, or is simply overshadowed by the fabulous pimento mayo, but that's just fine by me. It's all assembled on a locally-produced Pandesal bun, which is nice and airy despite its hefty stature. The flavors are full and distinct here, yet delicate, almost breezy. Adding Sriracha, I finally decided, would be like plucking a dandelion with a bulldozer. Besides, they have house-made sauces like the banana ketchup and the eponymous P.O. Sauce that are worth checking out.

Pecking Order

4416 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 (map)


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