Say you have a special occasion coming up. A birthday. Anniversary. Finally admitting that you need to toss one of your houseplants (it’s been dead for months). Whatever it is, how do you plan to celebrate it? How can you?
We know the usual answers: Host a Zoom party or socially distant hangout. Find a not-so-well-known stretch of sand in Malibu then hope for the best, etc. And while we’ve written plenty of guides to splurging on a big night in and what to order on your bday, those tend to focus pretty heavily on the food (duh). But past the detailed descriptions of beef tongue guisado and quippy Dev Patel references, what else is there? You may be eating the best sushi in the city, but how are you eating it?
Porridge & Puffs is here to help.
If you’ve eaten at this experimental Historic Filipino spot before, things might look a little different - over the past few months, they’ve ditched their a la carte offerings and introduced a new prix-fixe model. Each month, they create a menu based on a theme - and, by extension, a story - then weave that story into every aspect of the meal. Poems and directions for joy live on the same page as reheating instructions. Their latest meal is a five-course ode to pork. An earlier Summer Solstice menu included a print-out that reminded us, “Don’t forget to dance while assembling - and definitely between courses.”
Which is just... nice! And the food is fantastic. The corn orzo is creamy and packed with flavor - salty, from the bacon, and sweet, via bursting kernels of corn. Thick, dry-roasted ribs are covered in fennel and calamansi, then offset by a medley of pickled radishes, green beans, and carrots. Plus, there’s a house-made buttercream for dessert that feels like the beginning of… something new? An addiction to buttercream, perhaps? We’ll have to workshop that one.
When we spoke with owner and chef Minh Phan back in July, she reminded us that although times are tough for eaters, they’re hard for the people making the food, too - “I want to feed people,” she said. “My livelihood is feeding people in a dining room and giving them joy.” And for five-courses, a meal from here is certainly joyous - even, dare we say, worthy of a celebration. Even if you’re just celebrating a discarded bird-of-paradise plant in a dumpster.
(By the way, if you’re looking to level-up your ambience, check out 43 Ways To Make Eating At Home Suck A Little Less, our guide to the best playlists, plates, hot sauces, and more - all made by LA restaurants.)
WHAT TO ORDER
Instruction Scroll — OK, you’re not really supposed to eat this one. The theme this month was “Pork! Pork! Pork” and we thought it’d be nice to let you see the at-home cooking instructions. Although paper is technically non-toxic…
Baby Corn Cake + Heirloom Tomatillos — Sort of tastes like a tamale, except stuffed with lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and covered in a fresh, biting coriander sauce. Much like Nickelodeon’s The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour in 2004, this is a crossover we highly support.
Watermelon + Chrysanthemum Salad — P + P has always been an expert in the art of salad-making (and yes, it is an art), but this is a whole new level. How do they get the tarragon dressing so creamy? Where did they find these sweet, supple watermelons? What genius came up with sprinkling in onions pickled in spicy bacon fat? And can we nominate them for a MacArthur Fellowship?
Corn Orzo — Again. This is bacon steeped in cream. What more do you need to know? Light, crunchy, yet impossibly rich, we’d order this risotto-like dish by the bucket if we could.
Pork Ribs + Beans — Are these the best ribs in town? No. But did we demolish them, then leave the bones more barren than our love life? Absolutely. Plus they give you an entire bottle of their small batch apricot-habanero hot sauce, for “now and later.”
Ginger Rhubarb + Pluot Galettes — It’s described on the menu as having “just the right amount of unctuousness.” And while we had to look up unctuousness, they’re 100% right - this contains just the right amount of oil and fat.