A 19th-century Cuban labor shortage introduced Chinese workers to the island, and the Cubans and Chinese soon discovered a mutual love for the combination of rice and delicious pig parts. Soon thereafter, a unique take on fried rice was born. Flash forward to present-day L.A. — long after the era when Cubans dominated Silver Lake, in the 1960s and '70s. Inside El Cochinito's homey strip-mall confines, the salty, pork-imbued arroz frito still thrives. Here it has developed into a perfection worthy of its ancestors' approval. Those familiar with the sad, sweaty fried rice of the American variety will be delighted by the toothsome fat chunks of lechon and smoky ham with fresh egg, plump shrimp and lightly fried green onions. As an entrée, it embodies the concept of comfort food — and will have your health-nut friends fleeing in horror.
Credit: Paul T. Bradley