Eat This Now: Pork Chop Rice at Pig Haus
Comfort food if you're Taiwanese.
Pig Haus used to be called MJ Cafe, but it's less important what it's called, more important where it is. It's located within walking distance from the UCI campus, and it's the closest place, save for Cha For Tea, where a Taiwanese college kid can eat something that reminds him of mom's cooking. They serve a great Taiwanese sausage and also a homey "Three Flavor" chicken dish cooked with the trinity of soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine .
If you consider the dozens of Taiwanese joints in the whole city of Irvine, Pig Haus is just a blip in the sea, but here this close to campus, it's the only place where you can get a proper pai gu fan (pork chop rice). And Pig Haus' version is just as good as any of the others. The kitchen lightly batters and fries a thick, bone-in pork steak marinated in sugar and rice wine, serving the tender, not-particularly-crisp baseball mitt with just enough steamed rice to call it a meal.
And when a homesick Taiwanese does order one, he gets two sides of veggies with it, usually some sort of bean sprout dish and corn kernels, all of it packaged up in a compartmentalized bento box. The sides are little more than cheap roughage, but it's still technically vegetable, something he can tell his mom he's eating when she calls.
Pig Haus, 4535 Campus Dr, Irvine, (949) 387-0827
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