From now until our Best Of issue, we are counting down our 100 favorite dishes of the past year. If you've missed some, we've included a linked list at the end.
#73. 5 a.m. Chitterlings at Tri-Village
Yes, chitterlings. Yes, as in pig intestines. They're awesome. It's the offal truth.
The Chinese name for this dish is 五更肠旺 (wǔ gēng cháng wàng) and literally means "five a.m. intestine blaze". It isn't that spicy, we promise.
But why 5 a.m.? The reason is that this thick braise of pork intestine, blocks of pork blood, blocks of tofu, suancai (preserved cabbage) and spicy brown sauce supposedly had to be started at 5 a.m. in order to be ready for dinner.
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The dish arrives in a metal dish set over an alcohol flame. Spoon some of it over your rice and dig in; the intestines are scrupulously clean, and have a slightly snappy texture (think of the "snap" of a good hot dog). The blood provides richness and the tofu a slightly grassy flavor to balance the spiciness and sourness of the dish. It's salty, it's spicy, it's savory, it's delicious despite its humble ingredients, and it's become a must-order every time I go.
Tri-Village, 14121 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine; (949) 857-8833.
The list so far:
#100. Jerk Carnitas Torta at The Crosby
#99. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard
#98. Pork Chop Anything at Nice Time Deli
#97. Flying Saucer at Alberto's
#96. Frozen Custard at Marc Burger's in Macy's Signature Kitchen
#95. Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
#94. Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
#93. Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
#92. Lamb with Preserved Cabbage at Mas Islamic Chinese
#91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
#90. Beans on Toast at The Olde Ship
#89. Midnight Al Pastor Burrito or Taco at Taqueria Tapatia
#88. Budino di Cioccolato, Pizzeria Ortica
#87. Beef Teriyaki Bowl, Teriyami
#86. Salmon Onigiri at Cream Pan
#85. Beef Fat Fries at SideDoor
#84. Silken Tofu & Thousand Year Old Egg at Asian Tapas
#83. Cambodian Beef Jerky at Sophy's
#82. Com Tam at Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
#81. Chipotle-Piloncillo Goat Cheese at SOL Cocina
#80. Nem Nuong Cuon at Au Lac Restaurant
#79. Blackened Mushroom & Tofu Burger at Taco Loco
#78. Fried Veggie Fish Fillet at Dong Phuong Tofu
#77. Tofu Vegetable Salad at BCD Tofu House
#76. Che Ba Mau at Thach Che Hien Khanh
#75. Barracuda Sushi at Ohshima
#74. Whole Lamb with Kabsa at Olive Tree