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Pork Crawl 2016, Los Angeles, CA

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About Los Angeles, CA

American palates today are more adventurous than they’ve ever been. Global cuisines are prevalent on menus and now consumers, and the restaurant industry at large are talking about taking their ethnic explorations regional. What exactly does this mean? For the sixth Pork Crawl, the Pork Board set out to answer this question by studying both Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine. After reviewing cities coast to coast, we found Los Angeles, CA to be the perfect location for the 2016 culinary journey. As one of the most diverse cities in the US, the various culturally rich neighborhoods, from Thai town to Koreatown and Boyle Heights to East LA, make the city of angels the epicenter of food diversity.

To kickoff the event, guests were invited to Honey Pig for a Korean barbecue experience in Koreatown. Guests enjoyed a variety of marinated pork cuts from the loin, belly and neck that were cooked on the table’s domed grills. Kimchi and vegetables were cooked alongside the pork soaking up all the delicious flavors of the marinades and pork juices. They were served with fresh accouterments to be wrapped in rice paper, creating the perfect balanced bites! It’s safe to say the authentic meal set the tone for the two-day culinary adventure!

The next day guests gathered for an educational presentation of regional Mexican cuisine from Chef Jason Alley of Comfort and Pasture in Richmond, VA. Chef Alley is best known for his Southern comfort food but has a passion for Mexican cuisine. At the time of the crawl, he was recipe testing for his new Oaxacan-style taco restaurant, Flora. For the presentation, Chef Alley delved into every Mexican province from the Yucatán Peninsula to Baja California to explain how the cultural influences and local ingredients impact not only the flavors of the area’s dishes but also the style of cooking.
Putting this knowledge to work, the group boarded a bus for a brief stop at Northgate González Market, a family-run Hispanic grocery chain in Los Angeles. The group sampled bites from the well-known prepared foods section, tasting pieces of giant chicharrón, juicy carnitas, every salsa you could imagine, and handmade tortillas from the onsite tortilleria. Then the group stopped in the butcher section identifying multiple types of chorizo and longaniza sausages, as well as a variety of pork cuts. The market was just a sneak peak into the food to come. Combining the classroom education and sensory sampling, the group was ready to venture out on a six-stop taco crawl. The handpicked restaurants exemplified the culinary delights from the Yucatán Peninsula, Oaxaca, Michoacán, Central Mexico, Sonora and Baja. See restaurant stops below.

The next day guests awoke ready to eat more pork and learn from Chef Robert Danhi, Southeast Asian Cuisine expert and author of the James Beard finalist cookbook Southeast Asian Flavors. Chef Danhi shared his knowledge on the gastronomy, ingredients and techniques that make up the regions’ different culinary cuisines. The lecture spanned a pork tour through Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

After a detailed presentation complete with samples Chef Danhi lead the group to Siêu Thi Thuân Phát, an expansive Asian market. The tour showcased many ingredients not available in American grocery stores from tropical fruits to fermented proteins and wheat noodles to vinegars and fish sauces. After the market guests put their palates to work during a seven-restaurant crawl, tasting dishes from the regions discussed earlier in the day. The Crawl even included some impromptu karaoke from Chef Alley! See restaurant stops below.

The event ended over cocktails and exchanging notes at Seven Grand in downtown Los Angeles. After tasting dishes from a variety of regions guests departed with a clear understanding of the different characteristics that make up the often generalized Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisines.

Regional Mexican Chef Host Jason Alley

With a reputation for Southern food at its finest – simple, unpretentious and delicious – Chef Jason Alley is one of Virginia’s most renowned chefs. He took the Richmond culinary scene by storm when he opened Comfort in 2002, and then again in 2011 with Southern small-plates restaurant Pasture. Now, he’s the man behind the upcoming Sur Taco and Sandwich, a Southern-inspired taco joint inside Champion Brewing Company, scheduled for year-end 2016.

Growing up in Pulaski, VA, Alley started cooking at age four, and it soon became a calling. He worked his way from Hardee’s to kitchens like 1848 House, Blue Ridge Grill and Europa Café and Tapas Bar. He eventually opened Comfort to answer the call for authentic Southern food in Richmond.

Alley’s dedication to delicious, uncomplicated Southern food hasn’t changed – to the delight of his critics and customers. In the almost 15 years since opening Comfort, he’s collected numerous awards, including Best New Restaurant 2003 and Best Downtown Restaurant 2006 and 2007 from Richmond Magazine. He was also honored with a 2016 lifetime achievement award from Richmond’s own Elby Awards. His food has been featured in Southern Living, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, GQ and The New York Times.

Southeast Asian Chef Host Rober Danhi

Robert Danhi has worn many hats in his 30-year career: chef, teacher, author, photojournalist, TV host, world traveler, and more. A highly sought-after expert on Southeast Asian food, he spends time crossing the globe looking for must-taste international cuisine.

Danhi decided food was his passion at age 15 when working as a dishwasher in Los Angeles. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Hyde Park in 1991 and worked his way up the kitchen ladder to Executive Chef before moving to teaching – first at the Southern California School of Culinary Arts and then back at CIA Hyde Park. In 2005, he founded Chef Danhi & Co Inc., a culinary consulting firm with a focus on menu and product R&D.

Danhi’s dedication to Southeast Asian cuisine led him to write, photograph and publish the James Beard Award nominated cookbook Southeast Asian Flavors—Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, & Singapore in 2009. In 2012, he released Easy Thai Cooking—75 Family-Style Dishes You Can Prepare at Home in Minutes. He’s also the host of Taste of Vietnam, a 26-episode cultural, culinary documentary of Vietnam that began airing in Vietnam in 2014.

Restaurant Stops

Chefs Jason Alley and Robert Danhi took us on a tour of regional cuisines.

Day 1: Market Tour, Northgate González Market

The story of Northgate González market is the story of the American dream. Miguel González Sr., a shoemaker, his wife Teresa Reynoso de González and their thirteen children lived in a small town in Mexico. When his shoe store burned down, Miguel and his older sons immigrated to Los Angeles in order to support the family, and Teresa and the rest of the children followed seven years later. They opened Northgate in 1980 – a small neighborhood market where locals could find authentic Mexican ingredients, a friendly, Spanish-speaking staff (all the Gonzalez-Reynoso children) and a secret recipe for chorizo and carnitas.

Today, 40 Northgate Markets stretch from Culver City to Chula Vista – every location with the same dedication to carrying familiar Latin ingredients – fresh produce, in-house tortillerias, like fresh chilis and cheese, chicharrons, cookies and more. As their customers change from first- to second- and third-generation immigrants and anyone who loves Mexican food, they’ve expanded their departments – offering prepared foods for anyone who wants genuine Mexican flavor. The markets are still family-run and they’ve never forgotten their roots. In 2000, the family founded the Familia Gonzalez Reynoso Foundation to give back to the communities they’ve served for more than 35 years.

www.northgatemarkets.com

Market Images

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Day 1: Stop 1, Chichén Itzá

For fifteen years, a stand in the back of the historic Mercado la Paloma has been the number one source for true Yucatecan cuisine in Los Angeles. The family-owned and -run Chichén Itzá focuses on the unique culinary heritage of the Yucatán peninsula – a mix of Mayan, Spanish and Lebanese recipes. Fan favorites include the cochinita pibil with pickled red onions and frijoles negros, house-made longaniza asada with sliced avocado, and the poc chuc (mesquite-grilled pork) in a taco or torta.

Chef Gilberto Cetina Sr. learned to cook with his mother in the Tizimin province of Yucatán. Though an engineer by trade, he dedicated himself to the culinary arts when he moved with his family to the United States in 1986. He opened Chichén Itzá in 2001 to acclaim from foodies and food critics alike. Now he runs the restaurant with his son, Chef Gilberto Cetina Jr., and they’ve been featured in a variety of publications, including GQ Magazine, Hispanic Magazine, Culinary R&B, and the Los Angeles Times. The restaurant was named one of the “5 Essential Mexican Restaurants in Los Angeles” by LA Weekly in 2013.

www.chichenitzarestaurant.com

Featured Pork Dishes

Cochinita Pibil Platos served with Guanabana juice
Vaprocito Tamales

Restaurant Images

Day 1: Stop 2, Taqueria Vista Hermosa

Mercado la Paloma was designed to be a community gathering space – and nothing brings people together like great food. Open since 2000, Taqueria Vista Hermosa is a Mercado stall serving traditional Michoacán food – specializing in tacos al pastor. Their pork is marinated in a secret sauce, layered on a trompo (a long, rotating spit where the pork is stacked and grilled), then shaved to order and served with onions, cilantro and chunks of pineapple. The menu also offers traditional Mexican carnitas in any form you could want – burritos, flautas, tortas and more.

Chef Raul Morales, also known as Mr. Al Pastor, makes his food with a recipe that’s been handed down for three generations. He grew up in Vista Hermosa, Michoacán, layering the trompo for his uncle’s al pastor cart, and took up the trade himself when he ran away with his now-wife to get married. Taqueria Vista Hermosa was part of L.A. Weekly’s Tacolandia 2016 and was selected by MyFoxLA as the best Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles.

taqueriavistahermosa.com

Featured Pork Dish

Tacos Al Pastor

Restaurant Images

Day 1: Stop 3, Tacos Tumbras a Tomas

California taco lovers look no farther than Grand Central Market in downtown LA (DTLA). At Tacos Tumbras a Tomas, Chef Tomas Martinez, his brothers Manuel and Jesus, and the crew cook almost 300 lbs of carnitas a day, slinging enough tacos to satisfy several thousand customers a week. The Michoacán-style carnitas is definitely the star of the menu – an authentic recipe made with boneless pork butt fried in steel drums full of spices and boiling lard. Order one taco and you’ll get almost a half pound of meat, plus salsa, onions and cilantro (and extra corn tortillas on the side – you’ll need them). The stall also offers burritos, quesadillas, tostadas and tortas with rotating meats like pork al pastor, chicharron en salsa verde and morcilla.

Chef Martinez started working the stalls at Grand Central Market in 1972 at the age of 14. The first of the brothers to immigrate from Michoacán, Mexico, he worked 10-hour days at now-neighbor Roast To Go. When the Market offered Tomas his own stall, he jumped at the chance. The Martinez brothers opened Tacos Tumbras a Tomas in 1995 and it was an immediate hit. They opened Ana Maria, another Market taco stand in 1997 – a great spot for gorditas. Now over two decades old, Tacos Tumbras has expanded to almost double its original size, and Chef Martinez has been featured in LA Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine and The Los Angeles Times.

www.grandcentralmarket.com/vendors/36/tacos-tumbras-a-tomas

Featured Pork Dish

Torta al Pastor

Restaurant Images

Day 1: Stop 4, Villa Moreliana

Carnitas. Ribs. Skin. Tongue. Lomo. Ham. Snout. If it’s pork, Villa Moreliana is serving it – and it’s definitely delicious. This Grand Central Market stall has been a carnitas specialist since Chef Fernando Villagomez, his brother Abraham and their mother Telma opened it in 2008. Their Michoacán carnitas are served in tacos, tortas, burritos or on a platter with rice and beans. Don’t miss out on all the fixings – roasted chile de árbol, marinated sweet onions, pickled jalapeños and salsa verde.

Chef Villagomez was born in Michoacán, Mexico and went to school in Toronto where he started his culinary career with his first carnitas restaurant in 2005. Over the past eight years, Villa Moreliana has expanded the menu and the stall – they now serve Mexican beer and Micheladas, the perfect beverage pairings. Villagomez is dedicated to using fresh, high-quality products to deliver an authentic taste of Michoacán. In 2015, he opened La Tostadería, an innovative cevichería stall around the corner from Villa Moreliana. Chef Villagomez and his restaurants have been featured in several LA publications including LA Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine and The Los Angeles Times.

www.carnitasdtla.com

Featured Pork Dish

Pork Tacos

Restaurant Images

 

Day 1: Stop 5, Guisados

“Just like mom used to make.” That’s the motto of Guisados Chefs Armando De La Torre Sr. and Armando De La Torre Jr. Spanish for stew, guisado is a homestyle dish usually served with rice, beans and warm tortillas – and that’s exactly what the chefs sought to deliver. They opened the first Guisados in 2010 in Boyle Heights, serving their braises on handmade corn tortillas. From chicharron and chorizo to cochinita pibil and chuleta en chile verde, the expansive menu offers authentic, delicious tacos seven days a week.

Now with five locations stretching from Boyle Heights to DTLA to Burbank, Chef De La Torre Sr. spends his days in the kitchen with his son, doing justice to his mother’s recipes. With the locations all so close, their stews and masa are still made and delivered from the original Boyle Heights location multiple times a day for freshness and flavor. In 2016, Condé Nast Traveler named Guisados one of the best restaurants in the world for their tacos, and the restaurant has been featured in Bon Appétit, GQ, Business Insider, LA Weekly, The Los Angeles Times and more.

guisados.co

Featured Pork Dish

Tacos Chuletas, Tacos Chicharron and Tacos Chorizo

Restaurant Images

Day 1: Stop 6, Chicas Tacos

Grab-and-go taco joints abound in LA, but newcomer Chicas Tacos – opened in May 2016 – is already a local favorite. Owners Chris and Jon Blanchard, Nico Rusconi and Chef Eduardo Ruiz deliver innovative, gargantuan tacos daily from lunch rush to late night. Chicas, a small parking lot taquería, is focused on organic, locally sourced ingredients. Their pork tacos come with chile verde, chicharron, roasted tomatillo salsa, caramelized onions and cilantro. Or, order it “Mama’s Style” ­– a Mexican-style lasagna made with layers of tortillas, cheese, meat and toppings.

Chef Ruiz is a classically trained French chef and James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year semi-finalist in 2014. Before tossing his unforgettable tacos at Chicas, he opened Corazón y Miel in 2013, receiving rave reviews for his modern interpretation of Mexican cuisine. The Blanchard brothers say Chicas Tacos is an homage to the woman who taught them how to cook Baja-style. They met Carmela, nicknamed “Chica,” on a childhood trip to Valle de Guadalupe. In fact, the shiny Airstream trailer parked on the green turf patio is how Chica immigrated to the U.S. Chicas Tacos, though less than a year old, is already a DTLA hotspot, with features in Eater, Los Angeles Magazine, LA Weekly, Zagat and LA Canvas.

www.chicastacos.com

Featured Pork Dishes

Taco al Puerco – Click for Recipe
Mama’s Style

Restaurant Images

Day 1: Stop 7, Salazar

Along the banks of the Los Angeles River, Salazar is serving up to-die-for tacos out of a converted auto body shop. Opened in May of 2016, it’s the latest from Chef Esdras Ochoa. In addition to al pastor tacos on homemade flour tortillas, the Sonoran-style barbecue place offers shareable items from the massive mesquite grill – like a thick-cut pork chop with salsa vaquero, paired with chorizo mashed potatoes and pinto beans with pork belly.

Born in Mexico City, Chef Ochoa learned to cook from his mother – but it wasn’t until his two-year Mormon missionary trip to Cle Elum, a small mountain town in Washington state, that he began cooking for others. He’d whip up authentic tacos, tortillas and sauces and word got around – this was the real deal. After his mission, he left cooking, graduating from the Art Institute of California with a fashion degree and working at a local casino until the recession hit. He turned back to tacos to make ends meet, starting a tiny taco stand in DTLA – which eventually became the popular Mexicali Taco & Co. Along with his new taquería pop-up Califas, Chef Ochoa has three of the city’s hottest taco joints under his umbrella. He’s been featured in Observer, Los Angeles Magazine, LA Weekly and The Los Angeles Times.

www.salazarla.com

Featured Pork Dishes

Papas Con Chorizo
Two Way Pork and Beans
Al Pastor Taco
Pork Chop



Restaurant Images

Day 2: Market Tour, Siêu Thị Thuận Phát Supermarket

The first Thuận Phát (Shun Fat) Supermarket opened its doors in 1993 in Monterey Park, CA. Founder Hieu Tran, a Chinese-Vietnamese entrepreneur and seafood wholesaler, wanted a place where the local Chinese community could find fresh, authentic ingredients. Now, with 15 stores in California, Texas and Nevada, Tran’s company has become the fastest growing Asian supermarket chain in the U.S.

More than 20 years after it opened, Shun Fat Supermarkets – the Anglicized version of the Cantonese順發 and Vietnamese Thuận Phát meaning “favorable distribution of wealth” – remain dedicated to their local customers. Stocked products vary by location, with standard items from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Taiwan and Japan being supplemented with Indian, Mexican and some mainstream American brands.

www.shunfatsupermarket.com

Market Images

Day 2: Stop 1, Fragrant Jerky

Fragrant Jerky is the only shop making bak kwa – Singapore-style pork jerky – in the United States. Chef-owner Mr. Yap’s California version stands up with the best. He starts with thin slices of meat and marinates, dehydrates, smokes and flame-grills them to authentic perfection. Several varieties are for sale at Fragrant Jerky, including original pork bak kwa, bacon bak kwa and sweet and spicy pork bak kwa. If you take some home don’t forget to lightly flame-toast yours before enjoying!

Making bak kwa is a dying art form, and it was important to Mr. Yap to maintain this ancient meat preservation technique. He’s a third-generation bak kwa maker who started helping his grandmother prepare the Asian delicacy at thirteen. He opened Fragrant Jerky in 2012 to acclaim from fans – it had been impossible to get in the United States previously, and is one of the most smuggled snack food items coming from Southeast Asian countries. Over the years, Mr. Yap has converted even more people into bak kwa enthusiasts – Fragrant Jerky has been featured in The Los Angeles Times and was named to its 2013 Handmade Holiday Gift Guide.

www.fragrantjerky.com

Featured Pork Dishes

Singaporean Pork Jerky – Click for Recipe
Classic Bacon

Restaurant Images

Day 2: Stop 2, Little Malaysia

Little Malaysia sits near the back of an unassuming strip mall in El Monte. The décor is simple ­– posters of spices, wood folding chairs, soft green walls – so the incredible flavors coming out of the kitchen are the real star. Menu favorites include char kway teow (flat noodles stir-fried with shrimp, egg, Chinese pork sausage, bean sprouts, black soy and chili), char ho fun (fried rice noodles with shrimp, fish cakes and shredded pork in a rich gravy) and the nasi goring istimewa (fried rice with homemade roast pork, egg, peas and carrots).

The clean, sweet-and-sour flavors at Little Malaysia stand apart from traditionally rich Malaysian cuisine because it’s authentic to Penang, a small island off the west coast of the Malay Peninsula – known for its hot, spicy dishes, liberal use of ginger and turmeric and incredible street food culture. Little Malaysia might be an ocean away from their culinary inspiration, but locals agree – this is the next best thing to being there. The family-run restaurant has been receiving rave reviews for their authentic Malaysian cuisine for more than fifteen years, including recommendations from The Los Angeles Times.

Featured Pork Dishes

Malaysian Pork Satay – Click for Recipe
Lo Bak
Bak Kuh Teh

Restaurant Images

Day 2: Stop 3, Yoma Myanmar

Many consider Burmese cuisine to be a “final frontier” for Asian dining, as difficulties in tourism and emigration mean it’s a relatively recent addition to the American culinary scene. For those looking to explore, Yoma Myanmar in Monterey Park is the obvious first stop. Open since 2001, it’s now owned by Chef Z Gyung (Joan) Lam, and she features a comprehensive menu of 89 different dishes representing every regional Burmese style. A mélange of Thai, Chinese, Shan and Indian flavors, the result is unique – and surprisingly approachable. Fan favorites include the pork ear salad with preserved eggs, pork belly with pone ye gyi (Burmese soy bean paste) and garlic vermicelli with pork.

Chef Lam took over Yoma Myanmar in 2007, when she immigrated to the States from the war-torn Kachin State, Myanmar. Her dishes inspired by her own province are some of the menu’s best, focused on the characteristic spicy-sour-salty combination. Lam is excited to bring Burmese cuisine to new palates as an effort toward globalization and culture sharing – and at Yoma Myanmar, she’s succeeding. The restaurant has been featured by Eater and LA Weekly.

Featured Pork Dishes

 

Pennyworth Salad
Tea Leaf Salad
Pork Ear Salad
Pork Curry

Restaurant Images

Day 2: Stop 4, Kapistahan Grill

Kapistahan Grill claims to have the best sisig in LA, and they’ll get no argument here. This Filipinotown hotspot opened in 2009 and is run by the three founders – Ciamara Morales and Leah and Zaida Cosio. Their menu is dedicated to quality, seasonal food. In addition to their sisig (diced pork belly mixed with fresh lemon, onion and spices), the crispy pata (deep-fried pork trotters) are a local must-have. Other menu standouts include the inihaw na lsaw, a classic Filipino street food made with grilled, marinated pork intestines served with chili-vinegar dip.

Ciamara, Leah and Zaida wanted a place for LA’s Filipino community to gather and enjoy authentic, modern cuisine, fresh drinks – and great karaoke. Kapistahan is a popular nightlife spot, and might be best known for introducing weekend BYOB – Build Your Own Boodle. A boodle, or kamayan, is a Filipino food tradition. Grab your grilled pork, rice or noodles, veggies, and toppings, spread it out on banana leaves, and dig in with your hands – no utensils allowed!

www.kapistahanla.com

Featured Pork Dishes

Sizzling Pork Sisig – Click for Recipe
Filipino Pork Adobo – Click for Recipe
Chicharron Bulaklak – Click for Recipe

Restaurant Images

Day 2: Stop 5, Pa-Ord Noodle

This hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant is cash-only, but it’s well worth the trip to the ATM. At Pa-Ord Noodle, Chef Lawan Bhanduram has created an authentic, extensive menu of noodles, rice and curry dishes that make this a go-to destination for foodies near and far. Their boat noodles receive most of the headlines – a spicy, funky, savory pork broth made with ground pork blood, liver and tripe, star anise, several kinds of chilies and more. Other favorites include the crispy pork with Chinese broccoli and Tom Yum noodle with ground pork, barbecue pork, pork meatballs and dried shrimp.

This is the third noodle shop from Chef Bhanduram – whose Thai nickname is Ord. She sold her first restaurant, Thai Town’s Ord Noodle, in 2008 to open a different shop in Panama City. But LA’s draw was too strong – she came back a year later to open Pa-Ord. Now with a second location off Sunset, Chef Bhanduram’s infamous boat noodles are expanding their reach. Critics continue to rave – you can find features in LA Weekly and The Los Angeles Times.

www.paord.com

Featured Pork Dishes

Grilled Pork Salad
Crispy Pork Belly and Chinese Broccoli
Fermented Pork Sausage

Restaurant Images

Day 2: Stop 6, Night+Market Song

For authentic Thai street food, hop on a plane to the streets of Isaan, Thailand – or walk down the street to Night+Market Song, the second restaurant from Chef Kris Yenbamroong (song means two in Thai). This contemporary Asian restaurant puts the vibe in vibrant – the brightly colored walls and album cover décor perfectly complement the bold flavors Yenbamroong dishes out. The earthy, Northern-style larb lanna is a particular stand-out ­– hand-chopped pork with liver, blood and a dry spice mix. Other favorites include pork “toro” – grilled fatty pig neck with jaew chili dip, and the sai krok isaan – sour fermented pork sausage with raw cabbage and chili. And be aware ­– the chef’s favorite condiment is water bug relish.

Born in Los Angeles, Chef Yenbamroong was basically raised in his family’s restaurant Talesai. Named Food & Wine “Best New Chef” 2016 and a semifinalist for the 2016 James Beard “Best Chef West” award, Yenbamroong almost didn’t become a chef – he got his degree in film from New York University. Now, he owns three Night+Market restaurants – his first opened in 2010 in WeHo next to the old Talesai, and Night+Market Sahm (three) opens in Venice later this year. The accolades keep piling up, including features in LA Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine, Vogue, The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and more.

www.nightmarketsong.com

Featured Pork Dishes

Curry and Coconut Milk Grilled Pork – Click for Recipe
Thai Chiang Mai Pork Salad Larb Moo Lanna
Hang Hanglay

Restaurant Images

Day 2: Stop 7, Little Sister

For authentic Thai street food, hop on a plane to the streets of Isaan, Thailand – or walk down the street to Night+Market Song, the second restaurant from Chef Kris Yenbamroong (song means two in Thai). This contemporary Asian restaurant puts the vibe in vibrant – the brightly colored walls and album cover décor perfectly complement the bold flavors Yenbamroong dishes out. The earthy, Northern-style larb lanna is a particular stand-out ­– hand-chopped pork with liver, blood and a dry spice mix. Other favorites include pork “toro” – grilled fatty pig neck with jaew chili dip, and the sai krok isaan – sour fermented pork sausage with raw cabbage and chili. And be aware ­– the chef’s favorite condiment is water bug relish.

Born in Los Angeles, Chef Yenbamroong was basically raised in his family’s restaurant Talesai. Named Food & Wine “Best New Chef” 2016 and a semifinalist for the 2016 James Beard “Best Chef West” award, Yenbamroong almost didn’t become a chef – he got his degree in film from New York University. Now, he owns three Night+Market restaurants – his first opened in 2010 in WeHo next to the old Talesai, and Night+Market Sahm (three) opens in Venice later this year. The accolades keep piling up, including features in LA Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine, Vogue, The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and more.

www.nightmarketsong.com

Featured Pork Dishes

Curry and Coconut Milk Grilled Pork – Click for Recipe
Thai Chiang Mai Pork Salad Larb Moo Lanna
Hang Hanglay

Restaurant Images

Day 2: Stop 7, Little Sister

For East meets West Coast cuisine, head to the second iteration of Chef Tin Vuong’s celebrated Manhattan Beach eatery. Opened in 2015, Little Sister DTLA serves up modern, remixed Vietnamese dishes in a casual setting, punctuated by gangsta rap. Known for its anti-fusion style, the menu doesn’t shy away from bold flavors – like nem nuong, grilled pork spring rolls with mint and cucumber, or pan-fried e-fu noodle made with confit shredded pork, long beans and tea egg.

A San Gabriel Valley, CA native, Chef Vuong brings a melting-pot sensibility to his career. His family came to California from Vietnam and he grew up speaking Vietnamese and Cantonese. After earning a business degree from UCLA and a trip to culinary school, Vuong worked several upscale hotels in Orange County before meeting restaurateur Jed Sanford and opening Blackhouse Hospitality in 2012. Now he’s the executive chef and co-owner of seven diverse restaurants across the city – from modern chophouse, rustic Italian and farm-to-table brewpub to ocean-side surf lodge and beach town nightlife. Chef Voung and his restaurants have been featured in LA Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, LA Canvas, Los Angeles Magazine and The Week.

www.littlesisterla.com

Featured Pork Dishes

 

Grilled Spring Roll “Nem Nuong”
Red-Braised Pork Belly
Viet Coconut Braised Pork and Quail Eggs
Smoked Pork Jowl

Restaurant Images

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