Historic Filipino Town: Dinner at Porridge and Puffs
I was looking forward to checking out Chef Minh Phan’s Porridge & Puffs permanent space as soon as I heard it was open. Then a few weeks slipped by but I finally made it a couple of weeks ago. I gathered four others and we were able to order the entire menu. This meant we had four porridges, three appetizers, puffs and also dessert.
Chef Minh was running her Porridge and Puffs concept in Hollywood a few years ago. I was never able to go due to timing but I knew of her from social media and food events. Then that semi-permanent popup was no more and I waited in vain for another one. I was lucky enough to get her porridge last year (Marisa Tomei is a fan!). Then I heard she was opening a permanent space.
One of the porridges we had was the shortribs which had been braised in five spice and jujubes. I’m a big protein fan so this was one of my favorites. I loved the turmeric pickled mustard on the side.
I love the way Chef Minh adds colors and flavors to bowls of porridge with flowers and pickled bits. It all comes together beautifully.
I probably shouldn’t have attempted to immediately make congee (porridge) that weekend but I was inspired.
One of the appetizers we had were the cukes and seaweed. I was trying to figure out what type of seaweed this was. I loved the wavy curls so much. I’m a big fan and have made both pickled cucumber (or pickles) and seaweed salad before. I’ll have to remember to try them together and brightened up with a few segments of citrus. It was a light and tasty appetizer.
I also enjoyed the Asian slaw. I love crunchy salads. The mix of peanuts and sesame with three different herbs (rau ram, shiso and holy basil) tied everything together.
We were sad about the kabocha squash and chrysanthemum being out. Apparently it’s going out of season. In its place that night was the spaetzle. Unlike German spaetzel, this one was made from rice. The noodles reminded me of the sort in a lot of Chiu Chow soups.
This one had a nice meat sauce in addition to the long twirls of cucumber.
The Velvet is without a doubt the best seller at Porridge & Puffs. It’s the one I had at the popup last year and the one I dream about the most. The name “velvet” is very apt. And I loved the duck chicharrones and mochi in this as well.
We actually had the sausage as our first porridge. The tingly spice wasn’t everyone’s favorite but I enjoyed it as I’m a ma la fan– ma la being one of the tenets of Sichuan cooking. That numbing spice braised sausage was so good.
If you’ve ever had Cantonese porridge (jook), it’s often paired with Chinese cruellers aka, Chinese doughnuts. In Cantonese it’s formally known as yao tiao. However, the slang is “yao jha gwei” or literally oil fried ghost.
Although the puffs aren’t quite like those, I liked dipping them into the various porridges we got. There are also sweet versions for dessert.
We added an egg to the chicken and duck porridge. But not just any egg. It was an hibiscus-shiso pickled soft egg. And it’s perfectly cooked so we still had some yolk porn! It’s probably one of the restaurant’s best seller.
The bread pudding isn’t on the dinner menu but we were lucky enough to try it. Oh my! It was so moist! Sometimes I don’t care for bread pudding because I remember a volunteer we had who grew up during the Depression and bread pudding was her nemesis. I wish she could try this one. It would change her mind. Get the bread pudding during lunch!
Now I’m wondering how often can I get over to Porridge and Puffs! It’s perfect for our mild winters.
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