Piggin’ Out on Pork Belly

Columns Ono, You Know

August 12, 2012

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

It’s never a good thing to “go belly up,” but there are always exceptions to the rule, especially when it comes to pork belly! In this case, to “go belly up” insinuates nothing but goodness!

Pork belly is a boneless cut of fatty meat derived from the belly of a pig. Over time it has grown in popularity, and is a cut of meat that stands at the forefront of Asian cuisine and is found in many traditional European dishes as well.

And while some may be “piggy” about their pork belly, have peace of mind knowing that the following Ono, You Know hot spots provide you with varieties of this savory dish.

So, without further ado, just call me Miss Piggy as I dig right in!

The Mandalay

When you’re always on the go and in need of a break, why not escape to The Mandalay? And, no, I’m not referring to Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Instead it’s The Mandalay located on Alakea Street that will provide some much-needed R&R for your appetite.

Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team of Larry and Linda Chan, this downtown Honolulu establishment boasts quite a repertoire of Cantonese cuisine, including Pot Roast Pork ($12.95)

“Pork belly is so delicious because it has a layer of fat over the meat, and you have to have that fat for the meat to be juicy,” Linda explains, adding, “A lot of people order pork belly for parties, and we can prepare it with vegetables or taro, but people must order it a day in advance. The party size costs $38 and can feed a table of 10.”

Yet, if you’re just craving pork belly on any given day, The Mandalay serves up quite a masterpiece.

“It’s a long cooking process,” Linda says. “Our chefs first season the pork belly with shoyu and five spice, then they deep-fry it and then finally roast it.” Lastly, it’s drenched in a sauce comprised of five spice, shoyu and bean curd.

This traditional Chinese dish is a winner in my book, and you haven’t experienced all that is pork until you’ve set your taste buds on pork belly at The Mandalay.

The Mandalay
1055 Alakea St.

Top of Waikiki

Top of Waikiki’s Anise Braised Pork Belly ($12). File photo

Top of Waikiki is at the top of my list for onolicious eclectic fare. As Hawaii’s only revolving restaurant, this Waikiki landmark is open nightly for dinner, and has been presenting diners from across the globe with revolutionary cuisine that goes beyond the norm. Located on the top floor of Waikiki Business Plaza, Top of Waikiki holds the title of Hawaii’s only revolving restaurant and makes a full, but subtle 360-degree rotation every hour.

Top of Waikiki executive chef John Neff has more than 15 years of experience in the culinary industry, and offers guests an alluring variety of cuisine while encompassing melodious blends of island fusion. First impressions are always the most important, so when in search for a avant-garde appetizer, Anise Braised Pork Belly ($12) is a no-brainer! Neff utilizes the best of ingredients to create a top-of the-line starter, which features the most-tender pork belly paired with Fuji apple and parsnip puree, jalapeno kumquat chutney, and balsamic sweet chili gastrique. Delicious in every sense of the word, this explosion of flavors does not overpower the pure taste of the pork belly.

It’s Neff’s mission to merge the assets of various cuisines to create a knockout edible masterpiece. Believe me, Top of Waikiki offers a dining experience to remember, and it’s not only because of the spectacular views. Your tummy will thank you.

Top of Waikiki
Waikiki Business Plaza
2270 Kalakaua Ave.

Yakiniku Million

The intriguing aroma of Korean cuisine envelopes your senses, and before you know it you find yourself yearning for Yakiniku Million on Sheridan Street. But, of course! Known for its authentic Korean cuisine, this establishment knows a thing or two about tasty grinds. Does melt-in-your-mouth kalbi sound appealing? Or what about savory morsels of chicken with an assortment of banchan, including homemade kimchi?

Deviating from the ordinary, many patrons also gravitate toward another best-selling item on the menu. Enter Pork Belly ($23.99) prepared yakiniku-style on the table-top grill. It’s the fat that accompanies the meat that makes this dish so flavorful, and you can see the entire cooking process right in front of your very eyes. Yakiniku Million offers a choice of sauces to complete your meal — including its very own house sauce, and salt and pepper oil — as well as lettuce for wrapping the meat, and garlic cloves, onions and miso paste for additional taste.

This month, Yakiniku Million also is treating diners to a one “cool” special. Beat the heat with Cold Buckwheat Noodles from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special price of $4.95. Then while you’re at it, treat yourself to the all-day special. When you request two orders of meat or an order of the yakiniku set combo, you’ll receive Cold Buckwheat Noodles for $3.95.

After a meal like this, you’ll feel like a million bucks!

Yakiniku Million
626 Sheridan St.

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