The filet mignon of pork belly
Jong Ga House's pork belly, backed by a host of side dishes
Bacon is not going to disappear from your breakfast plate.
Last month’s histrionic reports of a looming bacon shortage were quickly debunked. But the threat made us remember how much we love pork belly, whether smoked or fresh.
Often overlooked by non-Korean diners, samgyeopsal (“three layer pork”) gets its due at Oakland restaurants like Kang Tong Degi and Ohgane. But Jong Ga House one-ups them both by serving the filet mignon of pork belly: ogyeopsal ($19 per order; minimum two orders), or “five-layer” pork, with extra striations of fat and lean.
Once the half-inch-thick squares of uncured meat have browned and shrunk on the tabletop grill, you can pick up the still-sizzling pork and swab it through salted sesame oil to enhance its toasty-lard flavor. Then you wrap the sqaure in lettuce leaves, along with hunks of rice and a dab of the spicy fermented-soybean sauce called ssamjang.
Jong Ga House’s crowning touch: “aged” kimchi, its slicing tartness offsetting the rich fat still left in the meat. The wide stalks of the pickled napa cabbage, the waiters recommend, can even be grilled alongside the pork to pick up a little smokiness from the flames.
Savor it slowly: This porcine pleasure is not going away.
Jong Ga House, 372 Grand Ave. (at Staten Ave.), Oakland; 510-444-7658 or jonggahouse.com
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