Photograph: Lindsey Howald Patton

The interesting thing about a restaurant doing Filipino fusion is that there is hardly a clear-edged Filipino mold to riff off of in the first place—it's all fusion, really. The country's cuisine is among the most patchwork I know of, thanks to its proximity to, trade with, and/or history of being dominated by China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Spain, the United States, and Japan. Pecking Order's menu pays a bit of respect to that mix, with things like house-made longaniza (which is similar to Spanish chorizo) and egg noodles. But the dishes that the restaurant takes particular pride in are ones that are particularly popular or only found in the Philippines, like the calamansi vinaigrette and banana ketchup.

Pecking's Filipino-style fried chicken has earned its popularity, but this time I went for A Bowl of Good Stuff ($12), a coconut curry dish piled with chunks of light and dark meat chicken, sautéed green beans, salty flits of caramelized onion, and fine shavings of green onion.

Right off the bat, this dish is less spicy and more savory than other Southeast Asian coconut curries I've had. Every bite brings something different to the fore. One mouthful gives you the warmth and creaminess of the coconut; the next is all-out chicken stew; then you snag a caramelized onion and it's a salty little explosion.

At the bottom of the dish, your rice (brown in my case, but the choice is yours when you order) soaks it all in, while atop you have a julienned latticework of crisp cucumber and tart green apples. Without the sweetness you expect from Thai curry, the green apple was a fun addition. And if Pecking Order—with its bright reds and blues, eclectic wall art featuring chickens, and funky kid's sidewalk chalk font pointing the way to the bathrooms—isn't fun, I don't know what is.

Pecking Order

4416 North Clark Street, Chicago IL 60640 (map)

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