Meat Me in Hell

A guide to great food

KING KONG SUICIDE

Gordo Mellony's has normal burgers, cheeseburgers, chili cheeseburgers and bacon cheeseburgers. Then there are the "special" burgers—stacks of meat so gravity-defying that eating one would qualify as a winning stunt on Fear Factor. Their King Kong Suicide burger comes with three kinds of cheese and four patties and rises to a height of 12 inches, held vertically aloft by a skewer (for a quicker snack, try the Empire State, which tops off at about half that size). They also serve chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and real New Yawk pastrami, but, really, what's the point when the burgers tower over everything else? 430 W. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 694-4456.

PORCINE FUNK

Jok bal—a deboned pig's foot stuffed with its own meat and fat, sliced and served in the original foot shape—is the star at Seoul Soondae, a longstanding Garden Grove Korean dive where the only English you'll encounter will be on the soda bottles behind the counter. The disturbing thought screaming within your brain—I'm about to nibble on a hog's hoof!—promptly disappears after a bite into the round, skin-ringed slice of sweet pork and fat bonded together with chile-flecked brined shrimp sauce. Jok bal is enjoyed best slightly warm, the better for the fat to melt a little on your tongue. But maybe jok bal's porcine funk isn't your cup of piggy paradise? Then try the namesake soondae (pork blood sausage), preferably via the soondae guk (Korean blood sausage soup). Geyser-hot, transmission-fluid thick, this broth is bobbing with soondae, oinker tongue, intestine bits and strings of acrid green onion. Tradition once maintained that no virtuous Korean lady would ever request it because of its alleged libidinous powers. But times have changed, and many of the patrons slurping up soondae guk here are proper Korean ladies in their Sunday best. 8757 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 636-0686.

MEAT-ON-MEAT ACTION

We don't know what happens at the Shore House Café—probably some sort of primal reaction to its Brobdingnagian portions—but whenever we eat one of their gargantuan and delicious multi-meat sandwiches we actually find ourselves becoming hungrier with every bite. And this is what sets the Shore House apart from other sub joints. It's not just the huge sandwiches—one is rightly dubbed "The Deli," as in absolutely everything available in the delicatessen—but a melding of meats, spices and dressings working together for the greater good: pastrami joining with turkey unified by ham; and a united front of roast beef and salami. People, if the meat world can do it, why can't we? And why not with a side of curly fries? 941 Pacific Coast Hwy., Seal Beach, (562) 430-0116; 520 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-8091; 801 E. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 673-7726; 201 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente, (949) 498-3936; 5271 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 433-2266.

THE DRUMMER'S BARBECUE

There was a time when former Stax drummer Fred Burrell had a barbecue empire going, with four county locations. Now he's back to just his original Burrell's Rib Cage, a shack on a Santa Ana residential street where you dine in the yard the way barbecue is meant to be eaten. Since 1981, Fred has been wood-grilling beef brisket, tri-tip, baby back ribs, pork ribs, hot links, ham, pork tips 'n' ends and such at this über-funky barbecue mecca. Fred hacks off cuts the animals don't even know they have. Meat's in just about everything but the sweet potato pie, which, when fresh out of the oven, can just about make you sob with contentment. But back to the meat: it's slow-cooked and melts in your mouth and mind. This isn't dry-style barbecue, either. Fred's a slatherer, swamping your banquet in a sweet dusky sauce of his own devising. It is the stuff of legend, and legends eat the stuff: the walls are crowded with photos of celebrities eating Burrell's 'cue. 305 N. Hesperian, Santa Ana, (714) 547-7441.

DEFINITELY CRICKET

Do you ever wish that there were alternate, even profitable methods of eliminating the crickets plaguing your abode besides the heel of a shoe or a napkin that serves as a condom on your index finger? If so, call the folks at El Fortín in Fullerton; they'll suggest you catch the chapulines and feast on the insects for breakfast. Really. El Fortín specializes in the rich cuisine of Oaxaca, where the cricket is to Oaxacans what the longhorn is to Texans. El Fortín preps chapulines by soaking them overnight in chili powder and lime juice, then sun-drying them until the critters are snappier than a cracker. Whether served as an appetizer (a good 50 pinky-nail-size crickets per order) or studded by the dozens in a creamy quesadilla, chapulines impress—a bit sour and spicy, the thorax particularly juicy. After popping the chapulines with your molars, you'll never waste money on Raid again. 700 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 773-4290.

HIGH-CLASS STEAK

Southern Californians don't foxhunt—those silly red jackets and cries of "tally ho!" are nothing but a musty laugh-riot for us Yanks. But you'll want to grab a hound and a bugle when entering Chanteclair in Irvine, which fires up steaks that would please any blueblood. The filet mignon is bloody red just the way the queen mother liked it, while the steak Diane (named after the goddess of the hunt and not the late Lady Di, alas) is a baroque response to overdone steak, a heady burst of bovine flavor emanating through every bite and accentuating the sauce's cognac, wine, mustard and chicken broth. With Sinatra humming over the sound system, you'll soon find yourself mocking the joyless parade of harsh-looking cars and SUVs speeding along MacArthur Boulevard. Fine beef has that effect, and it's the closest we'll get to upper-class twitdom. 18912 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine, (949) 752-8001.

LOW-CLASS STEAK
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