So Animal Restaurant . You must have seen the earlier posting if you're bothering to read this one. So I finally went with the wife and wow. Really really fantastically good.
The Chef's Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo used to have a show on the food network called 2 Dudes Catering. And after having been to their restaurant I really wish I had watched the show. But these days the Food Network has so much cr*p on it that I missed it, and really, can you blame me?
So we went, it's on Fairfax, in pretty trendy area about 50 yards from Canters and across the street from the the Dime. It has Valet parking so and you might even find street parking if you look hard. But none of this matters. Not one bit. See it doesn't matter one bit where it is, because I would still go. Anywhere. Now let's get to what we had.
We started with this.
The crispy little slivers you're looking at under the lovely egg are pig ear. Definitely fried possibly after another form of cooking and then sliced. They were amazing. Tasted like the best fried pork you'll ever have. Crispy goodness. Not greasy, but crispy and juicy. Not fall apart crispy but with just the right bit of chew in the middle. It had a light chili and lime dressing and as you can see, the fried egg.
Now here's the thing, I love all things pork. My favorite meat. And the stranger the cut the better. As for my wife? She loves pork too, but not all the strange bits I do. When this plate arrived, we didn't actually speak to each other for the few minutes it took to finish it. To that point in my life it was probably the best pork I've ever had. EVER. Why to that point in my life? Well, there were two more pork dished coming...
So on we go...
Foie Gras. But get this. Fois Gras on a biscuit wih maple sausage gravy. Sounds odd right? But it was so good. So Good. Super interesting combination and really super tasty.
That there in the photo above is the fried quail. Yeah, again super tasty. Think super tasty super juicy mini fried chicken, not at all gamey. Very tasty.
Yeah that's the after photo.
So the other pork dishes.
That would be the Pork Belly with kimchi, peanuts, chili soy and scallions. Definitely a thai influence. But it's not so much the flavors that get you but the texture. The pork is so perfectly cooked. The meat is so tender and the fat is practically melting as you eat it. And yet, the pork has every so slightly crispy edges. This ranks 3rd on pork of the night.
So what was the best dish of the night? The simplest one.
The Barbeque Pork Belly Sandwich.
It's so simple. I mean everyone's had a bbq pork sandwich but you have never had one like this.
First, this is pork belly not pork butt (which is actually shoulder). So the difference? Pork belly has way more fat in it. And as all those TV personalities say, "fat means flavor" and it's true. I love pork butt, it's one of my favorite cuts. You cook it forever and at a low temperature and it can be really amazing.
But pork belly? Oh pork belly is just so good when it's done right. And Animal does it right. There's so much fat in pork belly and that makes it so juicy and delicious. The meat is cooked so perfectly. It's tender and juicy and has that lovely crispiness on the outside. Amazing. But healthy people be warned, there are chunks of fat in this sandwich. If you're used to something like chinese roast pork you'll love it. If you're a pork tenderloin person, then this probably isn't for you.
So the pork butt is amazing, the bbq sauce is fantastic and the bread is amazing. Sometimes you get a sandwich bun that's just too dense. It squishes whatever is inside and you just taste bread. This bun is the opposite. You pick it up and the bread just deflates. It seems like its 75% air and it's perfect. You can even see the bread dimpling in the picture above. The perfect bun. The perfect BBQ Pork sandwich.
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are geniuses. And I will be going to Animal as often as my doctor and wife let me.
The best restaurant I've been to since Cafe Juanita. I'll post the
photos and our thoughts as soon as I can. But honestly Jon Shook and
Vinny Dotolo are geniuses. Everybody should go and have everything on
the menu that's made with pig. Seriously.