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Ultimate LA Pork Dish

My vote goes to the newly discovered crispy pata at Magic Wok in Artesia.

An order comes with 2 pieces of fried pork shank. Every bit of the outside skin was perfectly crisp and delicious; the rich meat inside so rich and tender that I was immediately struck dumb with a fierce bout of amnesia. I could not for the life of me remember another pork dish as good as this. It wasn't until 15 minutes later that the pork pump at MLV even came to mind. Not even close. The roast suckling pig at Ibu Oka in Ubud? The masitas de puerco at Puerto Sagua in Miami? The pig foot milanese at Babbo NYC? All very good. But this may take the crown.

Help me jog my memory. Anything in LA come close to the crispy pata at Magic Wok?

Below, photo of said crispy pata courtesy of Yelp.

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  1. Adding link:

    Magic Wok
    11869 Artesia Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

    3 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      For me, I go for the sisig at MW. Huge pork chunks with crispy skin. Matched with the garlic fried rice=heaven.

      1. re: pharmnerd

        As I understand it, sisig is the the face parts chopped up, fried, and is usually served on a sizzling platter. I know the MW version isn't served on a sizzling platter. How does it compare with other versions you've tried? I will probably order it when I return this weekend...do my own little pork 3 ways menu (pata, sisig, adobo)

        1. re: Porthos

          Pretty sure it's mainly chunks of pork belly. My coworker calls it Americanized sisig, that is without the "gross parts" of the pig, as she called it. I usually order it to go, so don't know if it's served on sizzling platter. I preferred over Pinoy Grill's in La Palma, but I'm no expert.

    2. I love both Gjelina's Crispy Niman Ranch Pork Belly with Soft Polenta, Bitter Greens & Apple Cider and Animal's barbeque pork belly sandwiches.

      435 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

      1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

      2 Replies
      1. re: wienermobile

        I also love Animal's bbq pork belly sandwiches. I will like to add to the list, the steamed pork shank at Lake Spring, not the braised one, the steamed one without sauce. And the pork neck meat bbq at Soowon Galbi.

        1. re: tissue

          I'll gladly add (and eat) the braised pork shank in tomatillo sauce at Enrique's in Long Beach.

          6210 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90803

      2. For me, the best would probably be the pork ragu served over the Parmigiano souffle as part of the Saturday night Pig Dinner at Mozza's Scuolo--the rest of the porcine preparations, especially the charcuterie, were none too shabby either! It was not a surprise that Chef Colby won L.A.'s Cochon 555.

        1 Reply
        1. re: New Trial

          The pork bolognese and parmigiano souffle was also my favorite dish...prior to eating every bit of the crispy skin on the pata.

          1. Pork Belly with Kimchi and Spicy Peanuts at Animal.

            1 Reply
            1. Had roast suckling pig with hoisin and scallions wrapped in a steamy soft white bun at Ocean Star a few weeks ago. Very similar to Peking duck but with very moist tender crispy-skin filets of tender young pork. Wake me, I must be dreaming again!

              1. Very good Lechon Asado, Cuban Style Roast Pork special only on Tuesdays (After 5pm)
                at Havana Mania in Redondo Beach. $11.99 for full dinner.

                Havana Mania
                3615 Inglewood Ave, Redondo Beach, CA 90278

                4 Replies
                1. re: wienermobile

                  Oh man, that is sooooooo up our alley!!! Thanks for the info, WM!!

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Go early, some times they run out later in the evening.

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      Although my vote also goes for the Crispy Pata at Magic Wok (Which I ate so fast I forgot to take a picture) That Lechon is pretty stellar



                    2. As good as Ibu Oka!!!! That is saying something indeed.

                      The "german" fried pork leg at Nad Pob Thai Cafe on Sunset is mighty good and looks a little like that one.

                      1. The Puerco Primo at Habana in Costa Mesa is very good. I believe that it's slow cooked and then flash fried so, it's tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. It's served with greens, mashed potatoes and plantains.

                        2930 Bristol St Ste A110, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                        1. We were impressed by Sal Marino's Porchetta, a month back, at La Bottega Marino.

                          La Bottega Marino
                          9669 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                          1. That crispy pata has been on my list for too long. My favorite pork prep is the Porchetta Panino from Mozza to go (I believe it's not available in the pizzeria or the osteria, just the "to go" shop). The porchetta is definitely on my short list of best things I've ever eaten. The rub is perfect, fennel pollin, maybe some sage... so tasty. The pork is so darn moist -- I guess that's what happens when you wrap a lean cut with luscious fatty belly. And the shattering crackly crunch of the skin that surrounds the whole thing --it's a taste and textural party in my mouth. Having all that rich delish crammed in between nancy silverton's amazing bread, heaven!

                            Pizzeria Mozza
                            6602 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: debra

                              Okay, that's it. I NEED to try that panino. Like, tomorrow. Thanks for the tip!!

                              1. re: debra

                                +1 on that Panino. It is incredible.

                                1. re: debra

                                  I went out and tried this panino the night I read this thread.

                                2. + 1. Magic Wok could stay in business solely off of that dish. Rod Aglibot's late lamented Yi Cuisine used to do an upmarket version with foie gras which was killer but, didn't have MW's crisp and crunch.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Kris P Pata

                                    That was one of my favorite dishes of all time... *le sigh!*


                                  2. I'd have to say the carnitas at Roast2go in the Grand Central Market. Sadly, I don't eat as much pork these days, though.

                                    Wondering how long before someone chimes in with an Al Pastor place, though...

                                    Grand Central Market
                                    317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                    1. Whoa... Mentioning the hallowed babi guling at Ibu Oka in Ubud in the same sentence? I just returned from Bali, and the Balinese roast pig at Ibu Oka was by far the single best serving of pork I have ever had.

                                      ... Now I gotta try Magic Wok, with monumental expectations.

                                      In L.A., I currently enjoy the slightly sweet, but hauntingly good buta kakuni at Aburiya Toranoko.

                                      The (pre-ordered) pork pump at Mei Long Village is a close second.

                                      Aburiya Toranoko
                                      243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: J.L.

                                        Ibu oka. So good I had 2 plates in one sitting...

                                        It's like comparing apples to oranges, or in this case roast suckling pig to deep fried adult trotter. The skin on the suckling pig at ibu oka was thin and crispy. The skin on the pata is thick and crunchy. The meat at ibu oka was white, delicate, and moist. The meat on the pata is dark, rich, and tender. For me, the meat at ibu oka probably wins. The sheer amount of fried crispy skin on the pata makes it a serious contender. Definitely worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence. Would be nice if the pata came with the delicious chile mixture/topping though.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Heheh I ate more babi guling than you at Ibu Oka, Porthos. I ordered one each of the 3 pork lunch plates on the menu AND a special order of just the skin (AKA kulit, photo included). The Balinese herbs & spices, as well as the constant young coconut juice marinade, just make that pork even more special. It was so inexpensive, too... Probably one of the greatest umami-to-price-ratio restaurant dishes in the world.

                                          I neglected to mention the very special category of cured pork. The top honor in that category on this planet undeniably, unquestionably goes to the hand-sliced Jamon Iberico de Bellotas from the city of Jabugo, Spain - Simply, heaven on earth for the taste buds.

                                          This level of jamon, however, is unobtainable in L.A. The closest we've had to good jamon iberico was at Bazaar by Jose Andres (photo included) - A pale comparison to the jamon Jabugo (and not hand-cut, but machine-cut) at Bazaar. However, per the OP's request, it's the best cured jamon iberico in L.A. (unless someone from the Spanish consulate sneaked some good stuff in via diplomatic courier package...)

                                          1. re: J.L.

                                            jamon iberico at bazaar or rivera or wherever in LA just doesn't compare to the pata negra all over spain...sad

                                            1. re: peppermonkey

                                              More than sad...it is positively infuriating.

                                              The miniscule amount of cured meats from Europe that can be imported to the US is a joke. The phrase "land of the free" is another joke in this regard. How can salami, prosciutto , and jamon iberico from Europe be a danger to US Citizens? Who is really being protected?

                                              I ate plate after plate of "illegal" Italian Mortadella, Salami, Salumi, Prosciutto (and many others that I will never remember the names of) at and with Giorgio Baldi before he passed away. He had connections. The quality was beyond belief. I was as impressed with the meat as I was enraged at these stupid, stupid laws.

                                              1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                You should run for office, Ciao Bob. Your stance on that single issue will win you my vote.

                                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                  Sorry if this is a dumb question, but why does it even need to be imported? Why can't equally good cured meat be produced domestically?

                                                  1. re: aching

                                                    Not a dumb question at all!

                                                    It's just that all the factors and variables involved in producing truly great Spanish ham are more or less unique to Spain. Examples of such variables:

                                                    1. The pigs themselves are a special strain of Iberian pigs (probably a surmountable obstacle to bring this swine strain into the U.S., but one will have to go through the FDA, and I suspect there will be lobbyists in both camps on this issue).

                                                    2. The pigs must subsist solely on a diet of acorns from an oak forest near the border of Spain & Portugal (conditions hard to reproduce in the U.S.), with acorns naturally fallen from the trees (manually harvesting the acorns to feed the pigs is not allowed, since the pigs need to exercise to get them; free roaming supposedly balances out the fat content).

                                                    3. The pig must then be slaughtered, and the meat cured at a very specific temperature, and (as I understand it from my Spanish friend) "with a certain breeze, of a certain humidity, from a certain direction, for a certain amount of time"...

                                                    Ummm... Even if those perfect conditions were absolutely reproducible domestically, then the experience and expertise in doing this right would likely take generations to achieve. And... all that for a ham which would still be priced way above the cost of 99% of all other cured meats in the U.S. marketplace, with a relatively very limited number of customers who have a taste (and are willing to pay) for it.

                                                    Having considered the above, if I was a possible investor, and someone pitched to me a plan to produce domestic Jamon Iberico de Bellotas, then I'd say move on...

                                                    But of course, I could be wrong. Many years ago, the French also thought that California could never produce complex wines...

                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                      Very interesting - thank you for sharing! I really enjoyed patas negras on my two trips to Spain, but I didn't know all that went into making them (I do remember hearing about the acorn thing now, which I had previously forgotten). I've always wondered too why I've never been able to find a good domestic Parmaggiano - probably the reasons are similar...

                                                  2. re: Ciao Bob

                                                    Related to this issue - I just read about this company and thought i would share:


                                                    1. re: aching

                                                      Thanks, aching, I know this place well (we've been going there regularly over 9 years), and the La Espanola owners know us well. Heck, their wonderful paella was served at our engagement party many years ago! They have decent jamon, but admittedly, still not the level of quality my wife & I are used to in Madrid.

                                                      La Espanola is great little place: I still think they serve the best paella in Southern California, and we get all our Spanish groceries (turron, manchego, lomo, etc.) from there.

                                                2. re: J.L.

                                                  JL. I need to eat in your company more often. 2 plates was good. 3 plates plus plate of skins would have been better. As it was I was the only one that ordered 2 plates at our table while everyone else just had 1. I felt 3 might have been overdoing it. Clearly I was mistaken.

                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                    Love Ibu Oka but next time you go get the whole pig that comes around 7am in the weekly morning market. They serve it up at the coffee counter smack dab in the middle of the market. You can have that delicious pork and dark Balinese coffee for breakfast and then when Ibu Oka opens around 11 you can hit that too. Last time it was raining and I was the only non-Balinese there. I also ate some bee larva or at least I think that's what it was.

                                                    In Los Angeles the super garlicky pierna de puerco asada at Versailles is very good.

                                              2. Thanks Porthos........this is great news. Wanted to always try it but never made my way to Artesia. I had some killer Schweinhaxen in Munich for Oktoberfest last year so I am interested to compare.

                                                Do they serve this with the traditional vinegar and garlic?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Schweinhaxen

                                                  One vinegar and garlic dip and one gray dip which I'm told is liver by the co-worker that tipped me off. I tried a taste of each and just ate the whole thing without any condiments.

                                                2. The Porchetta at Angelini Osteria is killer.

                                                  But, I definitely need to check out the pork ragu at Mozza!

                                                  Angelini Osteria
                                                  7313 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: vinosnob

                                                    FYI. It's at Mozza2go's Mangiare in Famiglia dinners and only for the the whole hog dinners.

                                                    Previous thread on Mangiare in Famiglia : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716360

                                                    Check the events calendar: http://www.mozza2go.com/calendar.cfm

                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                        You guys inspired me - I just booked for next month! So excited.

                                                      2. re: vinosnob

                                                        My current favorite LA porchetta is Sotto's, served Sundays only. Just a perfectly sliced, thick piece of pork, crispy skin a plenty, and not a dry bite to be had. I thought the porchetta at Angelini Osteria was haphazardly butchered and some parts were dry. I love the porchetta sandwich at Mozza, and of the 3 has the best bang for the buck.

                                                        At Mozza, everything pork-centric I've ordered has been absolutely delicious. Their guanciale is killer.

                                                        Angelini Osteria
                                                        7313 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                      3. I need to add a vote, or at least a shout out, for the Pork Neck at Don Dae Gam.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. You might be interested in this discussion from a few years back.


                                                          These days, in Bellflower, I've had Crispy Pata at the Thai restaurant Khun Lek Kitchen.

                                                          Khun Lek Kitchen
                                                          9208 1/2 Alondra Blvd, Bellflower, CA 90706

                                                          1. Barbrix is celebrating the pig this Sunday with a three-course dinner for $28. If it's anything like their other Sunday suppers it should be delicious. Here's the menu:

                                                            1st Course
                                                            Pan Con Tomate with “Paleta” Iberico Jamon
                                                            Tomato Bread with Serious Ham

                                                            2nd Course
                                                            Crispy Niman Ranch Pork Shank “Osso Buco”
                                                            Red Flint Corn Polenta, Garlic Rapini, Rhubarb Mostarda

                                                            3rd Course
                                                            Chestnut Flour Crepe
                                                            Warm Gioia Ricotta, Chestnut Honey Butter, Berries

                                                            1. Porthos, if you're gonna be bad, might as well go all the way and add Lechon Kawali/e to your trifecta. Elmomonster, who raves about MW has a picture of the dish. Unlike a few years ago, their Krispy Pata has been over-fried lately so I ask not too well done when I order so the meat inside is still juicy and not dry. As for the sauces (1) I add a bit of the fish sauce and sprinkle black pepper to the suka (cane vinegar); (2) the other one is liver sauce; (3) they have chili sauce which reminds me of Lee Kum Kee.

                                                              Here is the authentic Pampanga sisig http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisig. Magic Wok, like other restos including Ellen's Pinoy Grill in La Palma use crispy pork. MW is made to order therefore crispier whereas EPG is pre-made and not as crispy. Both good eaten cold also.

                                                              I agree with Servorg about Enrique's Pork Shank. I still have leftovers from the huge piece I got last Friday, and I've had four meals out of it so worth the price of $13.95.

                                                              You need to try Salo-Salo's (183rd/Gridley, Cerritos) lechon ribs. $6.95 Weekly Lunch Special comes with soup of the day, white or garlic rice, two pieces of the ribs and fried egg rolls. Ala carte is $7.95 for four pieces but doesn't come with rice or other items. Here are pictures of the ribs and garlic fried rice.

                                                              Enjoy your meal this weekend. I happen to drive by MW but ended up at the Korean Tofu resto instead due to time constraints. MW can get real busy and test your patience so I don't go if I'm in a hurry. Let me know if you have questions about the other dishes.

                                                              10 Replies
                                                              1. re: WeFlipBurgers

                                                                Porthos, if you're gonna be bad, might as well go all the way and add Lechon Kawali/e to your trifecta
                                                                Okay :)

                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                    That's not being bad, that's being complete. It's like ordering a sampler platter so you can taste all the variants. LOL!

                                                                  2. re: WeFlipBurgers

                                                                    Just finished round 2 at Magic Wok with the pork trifecta of crispy pata, sisig, and lechon kawali. Pata again was a star and did not fail to impress everyone at the table with the perfectly crunchy and irresistible skin. The sisig was a very close second and a couple of people even liked it more than the pata. Understandably so. The sisig comprised of crispy pork that is still moist and tender. The bit of vinegar and minced bell peppers make the entire dish very flavorful and delicious. Along with the pata, it's the perfect one-two combination for a knockout meal at Magic Wok. The kawali was basically fried pork belly chunks. Under normal circumstances, this would have been very good. But it was a bit lacking compared to the pata and sisig. Not a knock against the kawali. But more of a testament to how good the pata and sisig are.

                                                                    Even now as I write this, my heart beats a bit faster. Is it love? It it a heart attack? I'm not sure. One thing is for certain though, the crispy pata and sisig are good eats at Magic Wok.

                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                      Porthos, I was thinking about you last night while I was enjoying another type of pork (sorry, took a few bites then took this pix). Is this what is referred to as "pork pump"?

                                                                      You're very brave for eating all three -- no pork adobo? That would be the ultimate "Olym-pig". I can only handle two of the dishes at one time and only a few bites or I'd be a real hog. Sorry, the kawali wasn't a big hit. Did you dip it in the vinegar or liver sauce?

                                                                      Yes, you're in love and you got your daily (extra) dose of Vitamin B6 which is important for the immune system. Hogs & Kisses...

                                                                      1. re: WeFlipBurgers

                                                                        Is this what is referred to as "pork pump"?


                                                                        Yes, at Mei Long Village it's listed as "pork pump" on the menu. I always thought it was a misspelling for rump but now that I think about it, is this dish listed as "pump" on other chinese menus across LA? I know it was properly listed as braised or stewed pork shoulder back in NYC at Yeah Shanghai and New Green Bo. Chandavkl? Ispe?

                                                                        Tried the vinegar and the liver sauce. They add to the kawali because of the sour component, but not enough to elevate it to the heights of the pata and sisig. I'm flattered you thought of me when enjoying said piece of glorious pump :)

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

                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                          Yes it is, as far as I can tell.

                                                                          Actually, Lake Spring (back in the 90s I believe) due to a J Gold review, probably started this trend of renaming the pig shoulder or rump, as the "pump".

                                                                          Should read something like 紅燒豬肉聯合 or 紅燒豬肉臀部

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                            Pump is an apt moniker as this dish will either stop the pump of the one who eats too much of it, or it denotes the action of the EMT who pumps your chest after your on board pump fails due to pork sludge build up... ;-D>

                                                                          2. re: Porthos

                                                                            For years at Canaan (South St., Artesia), I ignored Pork Feet with Brown Sauce because splitting joints and popping them out of their sockets would be a bit too much for my Brit fam. A few years ago, my eyes focused on this big brown thingy at a nearby table. Having already ordered xlb and stinky tofu, I couldn't wait till the next day so I added the "Feet" and had a feast. Nowadays like last night, not a problem eating this in front of the fam 'cause it's sans the toenails. This is listed in the Family Style Menu but the regular menu only lists Pork Hock in Brown Sauce; not sure if it's the same and never asked as they already know what I'm referring to when I order. Stinky Tofu is another story...

                                                                        2. re: Porthos

                                                                          Ahh, we were there on Saturday and got the crispy pata and sisig too. We thought what better way to celebrate our version of the Rapture by having crispy pata.

                                                                      2. I don't know about ultimate, but the grilled chashu at Horon is really good.

                                                                        It's very rare that I like a non-Asian preparation of pork that doesn't involve sausage, meatball, or curing.

                                                                        2143 W. 182nd Street, Torrance, CA 90504

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: mrhooks

                                                                          I was going to add Horon to this. The Chashu is one of my favorite dishes anywhere.

                                                                          2143 W. 182nd Street, Torrance, CA 90504

                                                                        2. The most decadent pork meal I've had was the whole hog dinner from Ford's filling station. Most of the pig was cooked confit in duck fat, other parts roasted. The brain was so mind blowingly tasty, I'll never forget that small single bite. But it was so expensive, I'm thrilled to see a whole hog dinner for $75 at Mozza2Go, I'm going to make my reservation shortly!

                                                                          1. Spicy Pork Taco from Kogi Truck!

                                                                            Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA