Earlier this week I headed down there with Ms. Nice-Plank-Everett to return some artwerk, see some artwork and then promptly fly home. I was in town for about a minute and yet we still made time for three stupendous meals.
The first was at a restaurant called Chuen Hing in Monterey Park. I read about Chuen Hing in a copy of Gourmet magazine I found in an RV park while on vacation this past summer. As the multiple happy yelp reviews about the place will tell you the food is no nonsense Chiu Chow cuisine.
Of the handful of dishes we sampled my favorites were the beef brisket noodle and the ginger green beans which were fantastic. Spicy, citrusy, and creamy. We were also treated to a smoky, oily, pepper sauce the chef brings over from Hong Kong.
The next morning we started the day right with some tasty Oinkster!!!! That's right Oinkster!!!!! As the name implies Oinkster has pork;
yummy, yummy pork,
and fantastic chicken salad with bread and butter pickles,
and finally pastrami served with this amazing mustard that I could eat on almost anything.
Oinkster was a serious pig out session (pun intended) and something I probably shouldn't indulge in more than a couple times a year unless I'm looking for more ass than I already have... and I have plenty.
In the interest of saving the best for last I will say that none of this compares to the meal I had at the Allston Yacht Club in Echo Park. Imagine if you will someone compiling a menu out of the best small plates from the Waterboy and Mulvaney's, with no menu item falling much above $8 each. Match this with an equally yummy and affordable wine list and I have three words to say, dream-come-true.
The three of us ordered an array of dishes to share with each one coming out at random times in a style similar to tapas.
There were a lot of favs like this brandade with roasted tomatoes which was like a puree of the most heavenly scalloped potatoes you ever tasted with a hint of salty cod interspersed throughout. This mixture of potatoes, salt cod, and cream sat atop a layer of roasted tomatoes which were alternately sweet and smoky.
Not pictured but equally show stopping were the scorched shisito peppers with ponzu and bonito flakes. The intense saltiness of the ponzu matched well with the sharp bite of the peppers rounded out by the earthiness of the bonito. We almost ordered two of these before we realized just how much food was yet to come.
The hits kept on coming with light cheesy arancinis with fresh basil, duck confit in a papaya sauce, orange fennel salad with arugula, and chicken skewers with fresh lime as seen here with Ted Plank.
Though all of these morsels were positively scrumptious the pork belly was the star of the show.
At this point in my life I can say I've enjoyed a fair bite or two of pork belly in my day. Perhaps not enough to grow a dress size but certainly enough to know a well prepared piece when it's served to me. Because of the innate fattiness of this particular cut of meat it's easy to get wrong either with over or undercooking.
This belly was just right, served with beans cooked just to al dente letting you know they're made fresh, crispy pieces of apple, and drizzled with pan juices. Yum!
At the end we split a creamy panacotta and a chocolate mousse while chef Dave came out to kick it with us. I ordered a Lillet cocktail as a digestif whose sparkling, light orange flavor made a perfect counterpoint to both. Finishing a meal with a sparkling cocktail has been my new favorite thing. Maybe as the weather cools down more I'll settle back into something more astringent like a nice Fernet or a brandy but for the time being I'm digging this sparkling wine kick I'm on.
If the AYC were in Sac I'd eat there all the time. As it is I'll most definitely want to go back next time I'm in town. Granted it was a Tuesday night when we were there so things were a tad slow but with that menu at those prices there's no reason this place shouldn't be packed every night of the week.