Only true, old-school Chicagoians actually know what it is. Only a few thousand- a few hundred maybe, actually saw it with their own eyes and lives to tell us about it. These people recognized it, acknowledged it while countless others were quick to skip over it and gave it no thought. The rest of us only heard about the legend second hand, got a chance experience it and cannot help but talk about it. It is the legend of the 554.
What is it you ask? Is it a mathematically perfect number that is divisible by the value of its function and also divisible by the total number of its divisors? No, that’s the number 108. Are we talking about the year 554 (DLIV) of the gregorian calendar, a common year that starts on a Thursday and gives us 365 days in a year?
No, my friends. We are talking about a culinary perfection. So simple, yet so bold. Ingredients are few but the combination is perfect. A masterpiece that was conceived by chance perhaps back centuries ago, carried over from generation to generation and introduced to us by chance. Only three main ingredients, but when put together it becomes a union of delicious protein and carb combination on a mission to satisfy the pickiest tastebud. This is 554, also known as BBQ Pork with fried eggs over rice.
The origins of 554 begins with a restaurant located on Wentworth Avenue in the main Chinatown district of Chicago called Seven Treasures Cantonese Cuisine. 30 years ago they opened their doors to the public and somewhere along that time, they had a extensive menu that was numbered from top to bottom. Somewhere towards the end of that menu under the heading “Steamed Rice Plates” was item number “554 BBQ Pork with fried eggs over rice”. A simple dish- a small serving of their BBQ pork entree served with rice, with fried egg on top that is the key to its awesomeness. It was sold at some ridiculously cheap price like $2.50 and people tried it. And people loved it. Loved it so much as soon as they sat down they already knew what they were going to get.
Menu item number 554.
Thirty years later the numbered menus are gone, but when ordered by its famed item number, they know exactly what you want. Now you know about the legendary 554. Try it for yourself and if you like it, you will live to talk about it another day. If you don’t, that’s okay. The legend will still live on.