Monday, September 21, 2020

Fullerton Restaurant

-Grubbing in Chicago
The sighting of a near extinct local dish

Can a dish be considered a regional delicacy if only one place serves it? Or isn't that more of a unique item that gets associated with a specific spot and not a certain area? I'd tend to agree with the latter which is why I was always hesitant to call 'Hamburger Akutagawa' a regional Chicago dish. Reason being is to my knowledge it was only available at what was formerly called Hamburger King and or "Chester's" by some. The restaurant is no more but many of it's dishes live on at Rice N Bread. I've been eating there since the late 90's as it was a couple of my friends (and their dads) favorite spot back then. I most always got that 'Hamburger Akutagawa' which is Asian-American style diner comfort food at it's finest. Anyway I'd long wondered about Fullerton Restaurant which rests at the corner of Fullerton and Western. A place that I wasn't even sure was open anymore.

 Locals Favorite in Logan Square
So one day I browsed the google images of this place and surprised I was when I saw a picture of Hamburger Aktugawa uploaded by a customer. My original thought was it was a picture from Rice N Bread uploaded on Fullerton Restaurants page. Akutagawa is a little known regional dish that came out of Chicago’s Japanese-American community which thrived in Lakeview post World War II. Wok scrambled eggs are stir fried with green pepper, onion, and bean sprouts with your choice of meat. Chopped hamburger being standard. Rice and gravy plus toast come on the side. This dish originated at the aforementioned Hamburger King and was apparently served at at least one other now defunct spot (North Shore Grill). Legend has it Akutagawa was the last name of a regular customer who really liked this dish. Until recently I thought HK was not just the first spot to serve it but also the last. Little did I know it was still being made in my neighborhood as well. It’s not on the menu anymore but it’s always available. I asked and the friendly staff told me it was a holdover kept from the previous owner. He probably had a connection to HK. Hope you enjoyed today’s lesson in Chicago food history. 
Hamburger Aktugawa at Fullerton Restaurant

Fullerton Restaurant
2400 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60647 
(773) 384-5500

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