Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
88: Fried Pig Tails at Night + Market.
Kris Yenbamroong's Night + Market, a next-door offshoot of West Hollywood's Talesai, has quietly taken on the mantle of the place in town that chefs want to visit on their nights off. David Chang stopped by after a UCLA lecture a few weeks ago. Rene Redzepi did the same. The vibe is casual, the wine list (
curated by Lou Amdur) is stocked with funky eclectic whites, and the menu of small plates is stocked with enough salty fish sauce, searing chiles and pungent herbs to make the most experienced palate wrinkle in unexpected delight. [Editor's note: This paragraph was corrected June 19.]
The plate of fried pig tails tossed in chile and lime, a natural complement to the pitcher of Chang beer sitting in front of you, has all the hallmarks of a dish you would crave after a shift working the sauté line. Pig tails do not yield their meat easily; of course, gnawing through the flavorful bits of fat and cartilage is half the fun. The exterior is crunchy, bronzed and oozing with liquified porcine flavor, sprinkled with chopped cilantro and bits of fresh garlic, then lashed with a mercilessly amount of heat.
Although are chicken wings on the menu, too -- a rather excellent version brined in fish sauce, in fact -- the pig tails manage to take all the messy fun of a plate of sweet-spicy wings and amp it up to a pork-intensive 11. You don't have to be a professional chef to tune into the bold wavelength Night + Market's pig tails are broadcasting on, but it might help you understand why more and more diners are craving the kind of food that used to be only known as "staff meal."