In the 1890s, Claude Monet painted a series of impressionist pieces of the Rouen Cathedral. There are more than 30 of them, and each one looks almost completely different, because he made them in rented apartments with distinct views of the cathedral. Monet wasn’t trying to capture the cathedral itself, but rather, how light shone on its exterior - so some paintings are beige, some are dark green, some are blue, and some are bright red.
That’s a lot like a meal at Spoon & Pork, the Filipino comfort food spot on Sunset. If the name doesn’t make it abundantly clear, the three-foot-tall neon pig above the door will: There are enough pork varieties here to rival Monet’s cathedral perspectives - adobo pork nigiri, pork belly banh mi, deep-fried pork shank, adobo pork belly, lechon kawali. And each dish shines in its own distinct way.
The adobo-glazed, twice-cooked pork belly, served with a fried egg, rice, tomatoes, chives, and fried garlic, is so tender you can use your fork to flake off pieces. The lechon kawali, on the other hand, is the same cut of meat, only deep-fried, resulting in a hunk of pork belly that’s crisp and intensely crunchy on the outside, but so soft on the inside that it melts in your mouth.
The star of the show here, and the thing everyone should order, is the patita. This slow-cooked (then deep-fried) pork shank is absolutely massive - big enough for two - rubbed with an excellent chili garlic mixture, and served with jasmine rice. It’s also just $22, a pretty incredible deal considering we’ve gotten less meat for twice the price at fancier restaurants, and it didn’t taste nearly as good.
If it sounds like a meal at Spoon & Pork can be a bit of a one-note affair - that’s not far from the truth. The main knock on this place is that, while the iterations of what they serve are different, at the end of the day, it’s still a lot of pork, and a lot of oil. The menu doesn’t have much balance, and even the best non-pork dishes (like the fried chicken, or the short rib-topped caldereta bravas) are heavy, fried, and - while highly worth your time - will still leave you feeling ready for a nap afterward. The lightest dish on the menu is probably a very good, very vinegary rice porridge. But even that’s topped with fried chicken skins.
Then again, balance isn’t why you eat comfort food. You eat it to feel like you’re at home, even if it’s just for a minute. If that’s the goal, Spoon & Pork achieve it in a big way. They also manage to do it while presenting pork in interesting, innovative, and (above all else) delicious ways. And they didn’t even have to rent a single apartment in Rouen to do it.
Our favorite way to start a meal at Spoon & Pork - these are their house patatas bravas (twice-cooked home fries), covered in goat cheese, olives, and short ribs. It’s a funky, stew-like combination of flavors that we really like.
The patita is a pork shank, slow-roasted, then deep-fried, then doused in chili and garlic vinegar, then eaten by you in one sitting, even though it could have easily lasted another meal or two.
If you’re not looking for anything too heavy, this porridge is your best bet. The garlic and ginger could have come through a bit more in the porridge, but the chicken chicharrons on top gives this a nice crunch.
One of the most interesting banh mis around, this one has pork belly with a tocino (Filipino bacon) glaze, pâté, peanuts, and chicharrons. Which, even just writing it out, seems like too much, but when you’re eating it, you’ll be happy about it.
The simpler of the two sandwich options, this is a very solid chorizo burger with a fried egg on top, and a nice acidic, sweet, and crunchy apple slaw underneath.
You can’t go wrong with either the FGC (Filipino grilled chicken) or the fried chicken. We give a slight edge to the FGC because of how well it goes with the accompanying charred scallions and tomato.
You need some vegetables on the table with all this pork. You’ve got three options - the eggplant (pictured) is tender but not too mushy, and the salted egg cream underneath complements it nicely. The Brussels sprouts are frizzled and nice and crunchy, and the garlic and oyster sauce on the mushrooms is super addictive. If we’re here with someone else, we usually just get all three.