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Do you have a Chinese food guilty-pleasure?

Do you have one?

I do, well, actually I have several.

But the one I am craving at this moment, right now is at Ho Ho Kitchen in El Monte.

What is exactly at Ho Ho Kitchen that scratches my guilty-pleasure itch you ask?

It's the Dung Po Pork (東坡肉).

What's Dung Po Pork, you ask? A lost cousin of Ma Po Tofu mabye? Uh, no, not exactly. What it is -- in its most elemental deconstructed form -- is steamed pork belly with all of its jiggly fat goodness that's then topped and served with this rich, savory thick sauce formed from a "witch's brew" blend of soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, Shaoxing wine, black peppercorns, and perhaps some sesame oil and ginger (depending on whose grandma you're stealing the recipe from).

At Ho Ho Kitchen the pork belly is presented in the center of a big plate, neslted in a bed of broccoli florets, and slathered -- or maybe the better word is "smothered"? -- in this dark crimson-hued gooey sauce. It's beautiful to behold, with that thick layer of fat covered in so much sauce that it makes the whole thing glisten as if someone applied Turtle Wax and polished that sucker to a Military-spec shine.

When I order it, I ask them to hold the broccoli, and request extra bowls of white rice (has to be WHITE rice), and an extra bowl (or two) of that sauce.

Then I take one bowl of rice and dump the entire thing on the pork belly. Then drizzle some of that extra sauce on the rice. Then, and only then, do I attack it I by taking a large spoon -- my gosh, you didn't think I was going to use chopsticks, right? -- and plunge the spoon down that big mound of food. Because the pork is so tender -- as in "spoon tender" and not just fork tender -- I can, literally in one fell swoop scoop, get a nice mouthful of rice, pork fat, pork meat, and plenty of that rich sauce.

Seriously, the pork skin and fat are so tender they not only melt in your mouth, they sort of coat it -- the roof, your tongue, teeth, and throat become coated with this gooey sweet-savory goodness. Sort of like gurgling with melted pork fat.

Goodness. Pure porky goodness.

I have to get myself some soon, been far too long ...

HO HO KITCHEN
10053 Valley Blvd., El Monte
(626) 442-6689

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Ho Ho Kitchen
10053 Valley Blvd Ste 8, El Monte, CA 91731

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  1. I'm intrigued by your Chinese guilty pleasure as mine is Kau Yuk. I convince myself that it's not as bad for me as it seems but, it probably is.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JAB

      I love Kau Yuk but definitely a killer!

      1. re: Galen

        Where do you get your Kau Yuk fix?

        1. re: JAB

          Sam Woo on Sepulveda has it. I've only had it there twice because the stuff is so deadly good!

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          Sam Woo Cafe
          727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

          1. re: Galen

            What is the difference between Sam Woo's dish and the one the OP describes? I'm tempted to go to Sam Woo and order it. Also, do you know what the English name for the Sam Woo dish is on their menu? I want to make sure I get the right thing if I decide to risk the angioplasty

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            Sam Woo Cafe
            727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

      2. re: JAB

        Isn't Kau Yuk very similar to Dung Po Pork? Except maybe kau yuk is served with preserved veggies. (mui choy).

      3. That pork dish sounds dangerously delicious! Is it the same dish as "Tong Po Pork" at Changs' Garden? My weakness is green onion pancake-I am not going to attempt pinyin since I tend to not be good at it!

        1 Reply
        1. re: crystaw

          Is it the same dish as "Tong Po Pork" at Changs' Garden?
          ___________________________________________________

          Yes, same thing.

        2. lettuce wraps @ PF changs. Pretty much the only thing I enjoy on that menu.

          1. Oooh, your description sounds eerily similar to my favorite Chinese guilty-pleasure food, braised pork shank, or pork pump, as it is known on some menus of Shanghainese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, like Mei Long Village and Lake Spring Shanghai.

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            Mei Long Village
            301 W Valley Blvd Ste 112, San Gabriel, CA 91776

            Lake Spring Shanghai Rstrnts
            219 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755

            1 Reply
            1. re: Wonginator

              OMG, Pork Pump!!!!!! So evil!!! So unctuous!!! I've actually had it fried as well, which adds 100+ points to the guilt-meter.

            2. ipsedixit, too bad El Monte is too far from me, but it sounds delish.

              5 Replies
              1. re: granadafan

                Egg foo young is my guilty pleasure. I think of it as a Chinese Frittata (particularly when made with shrimp and scallions).
                Even Chin Chin can turn out a decent one. Mandarin Kitchen does a really good EFY.
                No gravy.

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                Mandarin Kitchen
                1822 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                1. re: maudies5

                  Me too! And I love it with chicken!

                  1. re: maudies5

                    I second that - Mandarin Kitchen on Westwood Blvd does a great EFY Shrimp with gravy on the side plus their porridge with pork and egg is just the treat for a rainy day - although on this rainy day I stopped at Fromins for their Monday soup special of turkey vegetable soup and brought home two helpings for the rapidly recovering Mme Zoe from knee surgery.

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                    Mandarin Kitchen
                    1822 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                    1. re: maudies5

                      me as well and followed up w/ those crimson red ribs

                      1. re: maudies5

                        I have to have the gravy. Gotta. And chinese hot mustard on the side and white rice and fresh ground pepper and saltines. Cuz that's what the place I grew up with did.