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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 ...

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

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!

          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

            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.

            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.

                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.

                    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.

                    2. Heh, I know this probably isn't Chinese, as I've only seen it in the Midwest at Chinese restaurants, but I used to love the deep fried cream cheese wontons with spicy dipping sauce.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mdpilam

                        Pick Up Stix as deep fried cream cheese wontons that come with your choice of dipping sauces (first pic below)

                        And, Pei Wei has deep fried crab wontons filled with cream cheese with a sweet chili sauce (second pic below).

                        Pick Up Stix and Pei Wei are all over the place ... go get'em tiger!

                      2. With Chinese food, I generally only have two kinds. Dim sum for brunch and lobster for special occasions. It's rare I'll have Chinese food outside that.

                        I've gone to Chinese restaurants and watched as the Chinese uncle in our group received the only menu for the table of 10+, written only in Chinese. He rattles some things off and the food starts coming some short time later, probably very little of which was to be found on the standard menu. Thus, I'm not overly inclined to visit Chinese restaurants outside these two occasions without someone that can point out the places to go and what to order.

                        1. There is a dish at the Mandarin Inn in Whittier called Gan Pon. I used to get it with shrimp or san yan style (beef, chicken and shrimp). The meat is deep fried and served in a spicy garlic sauce. I haven't been able to find a dish by that name anywhere else.

                          Mandarin Inn
                          10120 Carmenita Rd, Whittier, CA 90605

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: OCSteve

                            Hey, OCSteve! The dish you're describing is a common one in Korean/Chinese restaurants. The best I've had is at Moo's Restaurant in Torrance, but I'm guessing that's too far for you since you're in the OC. But if you make the trip, they have awesome handmade dumplings and noodles too - the spicy seafood noodles are my fave.

                            I know there are a few Korean/Chinese places in Cerritos - I think there's one called King Dragon and one called New Peking. They should both have the Gan Pon dish you're looking for too.

                            New Peking Restaurant
                            19131 Bloomfield Ave, Cerritos, CA 90703

                            1. re: heinous

                              Thanks for the tips, heinous. I will check them out.

                              1. re: heinous

                                heinous--we just moved near Moo's and have been intrigued, but haven't been yet. We have been to Seafood Town though, which is pretty good. From your description it sounds worth checking out--any other dishes you'd suggest?

                                1. re: heinous

                                  I stumbled upon this thread looking for Korean in Cerritos area. I work in Cerritos 4 times per month and am always looking for new things to try for lunch. I will check out these recommendations. But I am realy intrigued by your suggestion of Moo's. I live right by it and have never been in. I wil definately try the noodles and dumplings. Thank you for the tip!

                              2. I am a sucker fotr the pu pu platter-all that fried goodness.

                                1. I like taiwanese fried chicken, where they cut up the pieces into small bites and it's seasoned with salt and pepper.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: tissue

                                    And washed down with a nice tall glass of boba ... and you've all four food groups covered!

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Totally agree. Then follows the food coma....

                                      1. re: raytamsgv

                                        I wish movie theaters or ballparks had Taiwanese popcorn chicken ...

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          You could always sneak it in...though I'm sure you'll get some stares from fellow spectators

                                  2. My chinese guilty pleasure is to order those freshly deep fried chinese doughnuts (you tiao) cut them up into bite size and dunk them piece by piece into any kind of flavored congee (fish, pork, beef, duck) with a raw egg. Also add lots of finely sliced ginger and scallions. OMG cold weather is upon us. This is so comforting.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: selfportrait93

                                      Dude, if that was a guilty pleasure, the entire population of Taiwan, good parts of Shanghai and Hong Kong would all be in prison.

                                      Ever try it with a salted duck egg? Or a preserved (1000 year old) egg? Lip smacking good.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Oh yes I have, yes I have. What about those crunchy pickled radish and fermented tofu in combination with, huh? Yummmmmm!

                                    2. Fantail Shrimp.
                                      I've never seen this in the west coast. Actually don't know if this is still a chinese take out menu item. Does anyone know? You eat this with duck sauce, also a condiment never see in the west coast.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: lucymom

                                        RE: Fantail Shrimp.
                                        You can get this at many Chinese-American places, Yang Chow being one of them, it's usually called just fried shrimp or at someplaces "bamboo shrimp". But if you really want to be a glutton about it, you can go to Zen Buffet, where they have all the butter-flied, battered, deep-fried shrimp you can eat for something like 14.99.

                                        RE: Duck sauce
                                        Any Cantonese BBQ restaurant (e.g. Sam Woo) will have duck sauce.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          I just saw kosher duck sauce at the 99 cent store.

                                          I had to stand and just blink as my tiny mind processed. Or attempted to!

                                      2. Paper Wrapped Chicken. It's difficult to find as it's from the old days of Shanghai Winter Garden and Chung King (the one that was on Olympic, in West LA, in the 70s). Changs in Brentwood still makes it. And, the hotter the mustard, the better.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: yogachik

                                          I love Honey Walnut Shrimp. The shrimp is served with a mayonaise in the sauce along with candied walnuts. Delicious!!

                                          1. re: CCDiner

                                            Tasty Garden in Alhambra makes a great honey walnut shrimp

                                        2. XLB. It's infused with pork fat. Even the wrapping is infused with pork fat. It's probably more fattening than you Dung Po Pork.

                                          1. Not nearly as bad for your arteries as most of the above suggestions, but might just put you into insulin shock: the sweet lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice, in honey sauce, at Shanghai Bamboo House.

                                            1. Mama Lu's "special" pancake. Mmmm, may have to talk folks into going there on Monday...

                                                1. Hi ipsedixit,

                                                  Just catching up on some threads. You have me drooling. (^_~)

                                                  If I may ask, is it still being offered? I went once with some friends about ~6 months ago, and we tried to look for it on the menu, but didn't find it (we scoured it multiple times). One of my guests asked the waitress in Mandarin and she said they didn't have it. Is it an order in advance item?


                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: exilekiss

                                                    Call 2-3 days in advance. Tell the chef how much you want (i.e. pounds of pork belly), horse-trade a bit on the phone about the final price of the dish, and when you'll be there, and show up with bib in hand.


                                                  2. i have to say that, on the west side, hop woo has the pork belly with preserved vegetables... its a little funky but that pork, man, it melts in your mouth.

                                                    it may not be the greatest quality, im sure you can get better in monterey park etc - but for a quick weeknight fix, it totally does the trick.

                                                    1. My late pa-in-law had a passion for Yang Chow's slippery shrimp, sweet-and sour pork and orange beef. We indulged him because he was picking up the tab and, well, it's Dad. But now I realize how much I truly enjoyed all of those dishes in spite of thinking I really shouldn't. I think some of it has to do with the fact that the cooking there (the one in Pasadena) is actually very good, and so the flavors and textures that would be muddied by careless cooking come through all bright and clean. I've never done this, but I think a solo lunch with just any one of those dishes plus their sautéed spinach would be very satisfying.

                                                      Yang Chow Restaurant
                                                      3777 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                                      1. does salt and pepper squid in chinatown count as a guilty pleasure?

                                                        1. I hereby nominate "gurgling with melted pork fat" for the 2010 Los Angeles Chowhound Board Phrase of the Year.

                                                          1. If only San Gabriel weren't a hike! I have so much yet to explore there! There is a dish I am obsessed with at Hunan chili King- I don't even know the name of it as it was ordered in Chinese by my friend- no matter though, this dish was on almost every table! It's The shredded lamb with chilis and cumin, it knocks my block off, literally, it's so hot and so good. I have a video blog called The Craveable Dish (don't think I'm allowed to post the link) and it's all about finding "that dish" so this has been a fun thread for me, thanks for that.

                                                            1. Orange chicken at panda express ;)

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: echoparkdirt

                                                                Totally with you on this one.

                                                                It's like McDonald's Chicken McNuggets with the sauce pre-mixed.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  Ive also seen it described as dessert with chicken

                                                              2. Question for ipsedixit:

                                                                Am I to understand that you eat the dung po pork at Ho Ho Kitchen all by yourself? Either that, or you have very understanding eating partners who don't mind someone dumping white rice all over the main dish?

                                                                Either way, I am shocked and impressed.

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

                                                                18 Replies
                                                                1. re: choctastic

                                                                  By myself.

                                                                  I dont' need anything else when I am with my dung po pork.

                                                                  You got a problem with that?

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    Feh, who needs eating partners? Distractions from the food.

                                                                    1. re: choctastic

                                                                      Ipse, bless your heart! I also could very easily, and with no big guilt stuff whatsoever, take home a whole "Pork Pump" from one of that dish's main sources and eat the whole damn thing with no help from anyone. And I would probably sop up all that lovely sauce with a pint or so of steamed rice. Yumgrowlsnarf …

                                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                                        I've always been tempted to make a "Pork Pump Pot Pie" ... you game?

                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          Well over a year later: no, not a pot pie - a Swineherd's Pie. A celebration of that curious flesh that we find only in pigs, mostly in the shoulders: a substance that can't make up its mind about whether it's meat or fat. So we take a large dice of that, mix it with onion, carrot and cabbage, gravy to moisten, and mashed potato on top. Yum yum.

                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                              My guilty pleasure is turnip cakes. Meh,Can't quite exactly explain why...but I do love them, especially with a sauce that contains dow zee (preserved beans).

                                                                              For a sweet--jin dui--ballsof glutinous rice dough, filled with bean paste (can not find anyone in L.A.who uses peanut filling),rolled in sesame then fried.

                                                                              Sam Woo on Sepulveda makes a large version...I can eat 2 on the way home (15mile drive) and not have to share lol. My preference is the smaller golf ball size though.

                                                                              Maybe someone can help me I.D. a much loved dish of my youth. A piece of preserved (aromatic)fish on top of a mountain of minced pork, (sort of chef's choice what veg are included). Have had some versions that have had rice added---rather like meatloaf).Oten cone shaped--he whole thing was steamed ..and has a strong aroma. Which I like. Sound familiar?

                                                                              Just need to know how to pronounce it in Chinese/Mandarin,etc.

                                                                              1. re: CatHairCondiment

                                                                                Sounds like 糯米鸡 (or Nou Mi Ji) made with fish, or in your case 糯米魚

                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  Bless you!!! That sounds familiar,just hadn't head the name in ages. Will print out the ideograms and start hunting menus :)

                                                                                  Right now I could go for a huge bowel of congee too.

                                                                                2. re: CatHairCondiment

                                                                                  I love turnip cakes as well. The best that I've had is at Dim Sum at Seafood Paradise in Westminster.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      Yes, at least 2 different variations there but, they don't even have the standard pan fried version.

                                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                          Yes, I've had King Hua's as well.

                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                            What about Huge Tree Pastry or Four Seas?

                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                              I have not had either. Are you recommending them?

                                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                                I think they are pretty good.

                                                                                                Both places offer the option of adding a fried egg on top (which I recommend doing, but it may not be how you roll).

                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                  I like Si Hai (Four Seas) just a tad better than Huge Tree Pastry for this dish.

                                                                  2. Almond Duck, Sweet & Sour Pork, Egg Fo Young and when in the mood, Balut.


                                                                    1. the only place where i got this regularly (wing hing deli) has long since closed. lop cheng jeng gee yuk - fatty pork & water chestnut minced, mixed with cornstarch, and steamed with sliced chinese sausage (some folks prefer it steamed with salted fish or salted egg instead). it wasn't on the menu - you had to know to order it. i suspect it's more a toisan thing.

                                                                      and i made some pork belly just this week - braised for about 3 hours in soy sauce, shoushing wine, sugar, star anise, a little sugar, garlic & ginger & water to cover.. also made some red cooked hard boiled eggs in that sauce too. good stuff. ate 1.5 lbs of pork belly along with a ton of rice & smashed cucumbers & garlic & vinegar (to help cut the fattiness) in one sitting and put on about 4 lbs. it was worth it.

                                                                      1. One of my favorites which I've never seen mentioned is steamed pork hash with dried salted fish on top. I've ordered it at the Golden Pheasant in Carson a few times and nearly gagged a little girl and her parents sitting at the table next to us. The little girl nearly passed out by the putrid smell emanating from the fish. It's like limburger cheese, smells horrible but tastes good!

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Clinton

                                                                          Salted fish pork hash (hom yee yuk biang) is my favorite too. I used to eat it for lunch at work and the White guys used to call it cat crap when they smelled it! Yum!

                                                                          1. re: Galen

                                                                            i still can't abide salted fish; i still prefer sliced chinese sausage.

                                                                            i can make it at home, but if there's any place in west SGV that makes it, do speak up!

                                                                            1. re: barryc

                                                                              That there is another one of my guilty food pleasures...lop cheong and steamed jasmine rice! Come to think of it, there are a lot of old school comfort foods that make me happy! No need to go to any fancy restaurant. Just give me things like jook (rice gruel), kau yuk pot roast belly pork), pee dan (thousand year old egg), hahm dan (salted duck egg), gee yuk biang (pork hash), lop op (dried duck), etc.

                                                                            2. re: Galen

                                                                              I always loved the tannish crust that formed on the outer edges after the pork hash finished steaming.

                                                                              It was what I liked to call "gelatinous gravy goo" or G3.

                                                                          2. On the order of guilty pleasures, one comfort-type food which is now off my list is pressed dried salted duck (lop op) steamed over hot jasmine rice. Used to be that you could buy a whole dried duck for around $8 but now it's around $18...and that's if you can still find them anymore. One third of it is probably pure artery clogging duck fat and the rest is salt-laden duck tissue and bones. Ah, but it's so good!

                                                                            1. Been eating a lot of Mongolian beef and hot and sour soup from Chinese delivery. I feel my houndish side dying a little bit at a time but I don't care!

                                                                              1. I used to love the lunch plates with sweet and sour chicken, pork fried rice and egg roll. That really bad Cantonese/American spectacular. Unfortunately I gave up eating meat 3 years ago so that dream has died. :-( Nothing vegetarian even comes close!