fbpx

Charcuterie is grounded in French and Italian culinary tradition, but Bryant Ng redirects such meaty matters toward Asia. At Cassia, the Santa Monica restaurant he runs with wife Kim Luu-Ng, Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, the charcuterie platters ($18 to $36) riff on Singaporean bak kwa, and the results are dynamite. Pork belly strips are candied with palm sugar, brown sugar and chiles, and wood-grilled until chewy. Ng cures top round from a leg of lamb with chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, sugar and salt to create silky Sichuan lamb ham, which delivers a spice-tingling finish. Juicy Vietnamese meatloaf combines pork, egg, glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms and cured ham in an egg-yolk casing. Smoked red sausage nods to Northern China, and pork butt is lightly smoked with mesquite and resembles bologna — but spicier. The salted pork is like lardo, the rendered pork fat topped with anchovy sea salt, shaved onions and scallions, which is great slathered on grilled bread. A cabbage relish mixed with Anaheim chilies, onions, mustard seed and peppercorns balances the savory platter. So do scattered herbs including laksa leaf, cilantro and Asian basil. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more creative and tasty charcuterie plate in town.