Eat This Now: Pork Chop Rice at Popcorn Chicken

Pork pork. Chop chop!
Pork pork. Chop chop!
Edwin Goei

The new restaurant called Popcorn Chicken doesn't serve just those spice-dusted morsels of fried poultry you chomp in between sips of boba milk tea. The popcorn chicken is just a springboard to all manner of fried things the restaurant has behind its glass display case--things that include calamari hoops, fish, yam fries, fish cake, but also good ol' corn dogs.

If you want chicken, you can have just about every part--leg, skin, wing, butt, gizzard, heart, cartilage--some already skewered on bamboo sticks, the rest eaten by spearing them with one. To the Taipei transplant, these are snacks and quick bites common Taiwan's lively night markets, but Popcorn Chicken is essentially the equivalent of a county fair vendor like Chicken Charlie setting up a permanent, year-round shop.

You could gorge yourself on all these items, ordering them by bubbling them in on a ScanTron sheet like you're taking a junior high pop quiz, but the thing you want to eat here is the pork chop rice. This may just be the finest pork chop rice in Irvine--a town not lacking in pork chop rice.

For $8.72, which includes tax and a soft drink from one of those Freestyle Coke machines, you given not just a crisply breaded pork chop with a circumference slightly larger than a compact disc, you also get a tricked-out take-out box with rice that's been doused with a savory-sweet simmer of diced pork, half a soy-sauce-steeped boiled egg, and two sides of vegetables that could be corn kernels cooked with egg and green beans with sliced chicken.

This box alone already constitutes a substantial meal by itself. But there's still that pork chop, its wonder-crust crackly, the meat beneath tender, and the flurry of spices customizable to any level of burn. Go all the way to hot on this one--since you do have unlimited refills from that Coke machine anyway.

15333 Culver Dr #420, Irvine CA 92604.

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