[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Man, those Portuguese sure got around in the 16th century. When they weren't docking at Macau (or, you know, instigating the Columbian Exchange, which you can read more about here), they were apparently frying up batches of pastels in Indonesia. That certainly explains what the dish is doing at Rickshaw Republic, an Indonesian restaurant in Lincoln Park.

Like an empanada, a pastel ($6) is a fried pocket of dough that can be stuffed with any number of ingredients. Rickshaw's version goes for pure comfort, mixing tender braised chicken with peas, carrots, boiled egg, and rice vermicelli. In fact, it's almost like a chicken pot pie if it weren't for the sambal peanut dipping sauce served on the side. Fortunately, the thin crackly crust isn't the least bit greasy, so you can order these up as an appetizer, and still have room to devour the rest of the exciting menu.

Rickshaw Republic

2312 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map)


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