Sabrosura Serves The Bronx's Best Fried Rice


Fried rice with ropa vieja. [Photographs: Chris Crowley]

Consider the situation. It's nine degrees outside. You leave the comfort of your couch in search of a dish you have been longing for, only to find that it is no longer there. So something else grabs your attention, a promise projected from a paper sign taped on the wall of a shoddy bodega. The counter man asks what you want and you mutter, "cemita de queso de puerco, please."

The sandwich is not good. You did not know that head cheese could be so absolutely devoid of flavor. The sharp chill of the winter only heightens your bitterness. You've struck out twice and you're hungry.

More often than not, I find myself turning to fried rice in situations like these. There's a reason you can find it from Shanghai to Bali: fried rice makes you feel good. I have a deep and abiding love for the dish, whether it's baroque with salt cod or Benton's bacon or simply scrambled with eggs, garlic, ginger, and scallion.

There is an exemplary fried rice called chaulafan to be found in Mott Haven at the Ecuadorian restaurant Luchos Barrios, but to my taste the best fried rice in the Bronx is farther north. It is at Sabrosura, the Parkchester staple billed by its owners as an "American-Born Chinese Dominican Eatery." Last fall, the owners opened up a more spacious, brightly lit location on Westchester Avenue. The menu is extensive, with a focus on seafood, and features plenty of dishes, like mofongo, from outside the Chino-Latino cannon. But I see no reason to stray from the fried rice.

I ordered mine with ropa vieja (which translates literally to "old clothes"). It's meat, in this case beef, that is cooked in tomato sauce and then shredded. All orders come with fried plantain strips, which add a nice crunch, a speckle of cilantro, and slices of creamy avocado. The meat serves its purpose, which is to say that it is chewy and clings to the rice, but it is not that outspoken.

No matter: when you dig into that rice you will lose sight of all other concerns. It's salty but not too much so, devoid of excessive grease, with a mild crunch from the pan that'll set you in a good mood. This is a fried rice that will make you forgot all about the lowly, grease-drenched excuse your local takeout spot peddled.