I can’t express how much I love this place. My first visit with Ho Bag left an indelible impression on me. It simply is everything I love in food, flavor that packs a punch, no frills, great ingredients, and a strong focus on charcuterie. I normally don’t go to a restaurant twice, but I wanted Dumpling Man to try this place because if you visit Chicago, and you don’t go to the Purple Pig, well, you really haven’t visited to Chicago, at least your stomach hasn’t.
While this is a bit heavy for lunch, it was the only time we could squeeze in a visit. See Fat Gwai spent the night at our hotel after we karaoked late into the wee hours of the night. We woke up and rolled on over to the Purple Pig, which fortunately was a short walk away from our hotel.
Broccolli roasted garlic, anchovy vinaigrette
To my dismay, this was a warm salad. I wish they had mentioned that in the description. Still though, it was pretty good, maybe a bit heavy on the dressing. Really not fishy at all, but left my mouth with a pucker from the acidity.
Roasted Corn mushrooms, walnuts, fried rosemary
Dumpling Man loves anything with corn, while See Fat Gwai loves anything with mushrooms. This was the perfect dish to please everyone! It had a similar flavor profile to the previous salad, so again a bit heavy on the dressing and pretty tart. I was still a fan. These are salads you definitely need to eat with something on the side or its just too overwhelming. I didn’t like the fried rosemary at all though.
Pork Liver Pate
I didn’t care that I had this last time, or that I would be the only one eating it. I had to have the pate again. It was porky, fatty, mousy, and delicious. It was just a tad too soft, but that was just a minor misstep.
Roasted Bone Marrow herbs
Everyone raves about the freakin’ bone marrow, so we just had to try it this time. One word…meh. I have vowed to stop ordering bone marrow. It really is just blobs of gooey fat! Pate is probably most fat as well but its seasoned and flavored. A gentle pinch of flaky sea salt did bring out some flavor, so I’ll give them good marks for that.
Turkey Leg Confit crispy lentils, treviso, endive, agro dolce
Why would anyone ever order turkey or chicken? See Fat Gwai and I were asking ourselves the same question, but Dumpling Man insisted on trying it. Sometimes he chooses wisely, and this by far was one of the tastiest dishes that afternoon. It was really moist and flavorful. There was a sweet sour dressing or juices running throughout which either came from the meat itself or the nice bitter side salad. Kudos to Dumpling Man!
Scallop Spiedini chickpea aioli
These scallops were much less salty and much more of a meaty sweetness than the scallops at Girl and the Goat.
Octopus green beans, fingerling potatoes, salsa verde
Octopus is another dish I think I’m gonna have to stop ordering too. Somehow I can never find the right balance between supple tentacles that still have a bite to them. It’s either too mushy or too chewy. These were one of the better textures, but somehow all the other ingredients and flavors didn’t come together.
Milk Braised Pork Shoulder mashed potatoes
It’s very strange that this dish looked nothing like the version I had last time. First of all, the portion was much smaller, not that I was not grateful since I was so stuffed by this point. Second of all, the sauce was a mustard color as opposed to a bright red tomato color. The pork was still meltingly tender and overall very hearty. I was just a little puzzled though.
Oh, The Purple Pig! How I love you so and am so sad that you exist only in Chicago. I don’t think Dumpling Man was as enamored with the place as me, but he definitely recognizes it as a quality dining establishment. See Fat Gwai enjoyed himself, but I think he’s easy to please. I can’t wait to visit again, but so far, no trips planned to Chicago anytime soon =(.