Homer: Are you saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
As I also share Homer Simpson’s love affair with the pig, here’s a shortlist of my favorite establishments where I pay homage to this wonderful, magical animal.
Dragon Mark (Monterey Park): It’s all about the fried potstickers. Just the right amount of pork, just the right amount of wrapping – charred with a smoky wok seared finish. http://www.yelp.com/biz/dragon-mark-san-gabriel
Ji Rong (Rosemead): I love their beef rolls here and will save the review for the bovine love edition. But, for pork – their Shanghainese spare ribs are little nuggets of perfectly fried and black vinegary glazed goodness. http://www.yelp.com/biz/ji-rong-restaurant-rosemead
La Bottega Marino (Larchmont): I only ever came here for the pasta carbonara. Glossy al dente spaghetti mingling with crisp pancetta. To purists, the bits of caramelized onion may be a bastardization of the dish. But, they add notes of sweetness to nicely balance the salty smokiness of the pork. I haven’t gone back in years for fear I may fall back under its spell like a torrid ex-flame. http://www.labottegausa.com/
Lou’s (Hollywood): Yes, there’s great wine and tasty tapas here with fresh farmer’s market items and the ubiquitous but always tempting gooey burrata. But, their pig candy – bacon encrusted with brown sugar is their signature item and dangerously addictive. http://www.louonvine.com/
Santouka Ramen (West LA): Based inside of Mitsuwa market, Santouka’s ramen is my “Calgon” to the food court eating experience. (For those who grew up in the post-internet age, here’s what I’m talking about http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCC-E8ktcMg) The super premium black pork melts like butter and rich broth is I dare say, nearly soulful. With just this little bowl of heaven, the rabid shoppers, glare of fluorescent lights, and white noise somehow fade away. http://www.yelp.com/biz/santouka-ramen-los-angeles#hrid:wcA5WLQtf4dl9SroIqm1yw/src:search/query:mitsuwa%20ramen
The Original Texas BBQ King (Downtown, LA): I haven’t hit up BBQ King since they made the move from Sunset/Figueroa to their new locations. Bummer, as I would always “happen” to cruise down Sunset to smell the bbq-perfumed smoke coming from the oil drums and pull over to get my fix. The baby back ribs are the fall off the bone variety. And their house sauce casts a smoky, sweet spell on everything from meat to baked beans. http://www.texasbbqking.com/
Yuca’s (Los Feliz): I love how in Mexico (and often on the side streets of LA), there are taco stands that are one-meat only. Carnivores who are monogamous or who have strong gastronomic preferences can cut to the chase and have an intimate experience with their meat of choice. While Yuca’s does offer other meat, they really should be just a pig stand. Ignore everything else, and just focus on the tender, velvety pork served straight-up (carnitas) or spiced Yucatan style (cochinita pibil). http://www.yucasla.com