The Best Pork Rice Bowls in Los Angeles | KCET
The Best Pork Rice Bowls in Los Angeles
Pork rice bowls are unapologetically decadent. A healthy piece of pork glistening in its own fat and draped over rice is one of the best comfort dishes available. Fat is a necessary evil; it's what gives the plate flavor.
The dish isn't complicated. It is just pork over rice. Pork belly, thinly sliced pork, cubed fatty pork -- any variation works really. Enjoy it, eat it slowly, let the fat disintegrate in your mouth.
Here are our favorite places for it in Los Angeles:
There's something enchanting about the pork over rice, or rouzaofan, at Tofu King. If you hang out at the restaurant long enough, you'll see the chefs pluck out large slabs of frozen meat from the back freezer and bring it into the kitchen. And somewhere behind the scenes, the magic happens. The pork is braised for hours until it reaches its signature creamy consistency. Marinated with different colored soy sauces, sugar, and rice wine, it comes out sweet and savory all at the same time. The pork is cubed, scooped over a bowl of rice and paired with a bit of pickled mustard greens which helps cut the fat and add balance. Finally, a stewed egg is placed on the side for good measure. Pair it with a side of their a-choy (a mustard green), also conveniently topped with fatty pork. 713 W Duarte Rd Ste C Arcadia, CA 91007; (626) 254-0223.
The Coffee Commissary is a petite coffee shop on the criss-cross intersection of Olive and Alameda in Burbank. The pork belly brown rice bowl isn't a main attraction -- after all, it's a coffee joint. But it is on the menu and a hidden gem worth ordering. An ideal balance of protein to carbs to vegetables, the bowl is sprinkled with an aromatic flair of sesame seeds and a generous dollop of gochujang. A mark of a worthy rice bowl is balance and this passed with flying colors. Textures were all over the place, in a good way. The pork belly was tender, soft, and melted into the dish. Pickles, folded into each other, were thrown in for an acidic kick and the best part was that they weren't overpowering. The rice had a cooked crunch to it and the vegetables lightened the whole. And on top of it all, this glorious rice bowl had a runny egg. 3121 W Olive Ave, Burbank, CA 91505; (818) 556-6055.
Marugame Monzo's rendition doesn't look like much. In fact, it looks kind of tired. Pale pieces of thin pork are layered, like waves, over rice and there's just a smidgen of green in the form of very thinly diced scallions. But once you taste it, your perception will immediately change. Monzo's pork belly rice is anything but sad. It's addictive and juicy and the minimalistic seasonings (just scallions and a bit of ginger) work to the dish's advantage. The focus is on quality of the pork and its natural juices is all that's needed to make this a dish a winner. 329 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012; (213) 346-9762.
Roy Choi's Chinatown brick-and-mortar is a rice bowl specialist and their chubby pork belly, adorned appropriately with a fried egg, is worth going back for, again and again and again. The pork is gently fried to a crisp and lathered with Korean chili paste. Pickled radishes, water spinach, and Chinese broccoli make it green and the cotija, a crumbly Mexican cheese, and peanuts add yet another layer of complexity. 727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012; (323) 380-8680.
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