No. 15: Ta Pin Lu at Pagolac

No. 15: Ta Pin Lu at Pagolac
Edwin Goei

Like Kasey Kasem, we're counting down the hits, except ours nourish your belly as well as your soul. Just a few weeks left in our listicle of listicles known as 100 Favorite Dishes (INSERT YEAR). YEAH!!!

Hey, don't ding us for listicles: Weekly DataLab studies show ustedes love this gimmick, launched in honor of our coming Best Of issue. Besides, it is rather fun to do this for us Forkers--an opportunity to highlight dishes from restaurants we'll never fully review, or secrets from old standbys. Anyhoo, let the march begin...

I don't know anyone who goes to Pagolac and doesn't order the ta pin lu, a sampler that sees raw calamari steak, butterflied shrimp and beef sliced as thin as carpaccio served on a plate and covered in an oily mix of minced onion and peanuts. It's not even part of the 7 courses of beef, Pagolac's raison d'être, but it is essential.

You sear the meats atop your own griddle, a greased dome resembling a pith helmet fashioned out of steel. When each morsel finish cooking, you roll them up into rice-paper cigars with aromatic herbs, scraps of dewy lettuce, sliced green bananas, cucumbers and pickles. You then dip the bundles into a salty-sweet sauce made with diced pineapples and fermented shrimp paste. Each time you roll, your technique improves. Someone at your table will inevitably discover that using two wetted rice-paper discs, each overlapping the other as though the circles of a Venn diagram, allows for more room and easier rolling.

After you master the technique, you resume the seven courses of beef feasting. But even if you're all thumbs and what you roll ends up looking like an exploded taco, continue. It's relatively healthy. It's yummy. And it's interactive and fun, even if the new space the Little Saigon institution moved into is cramped and stuffy.

See also:

The list:

16. The Chicken at XA Sweet & Savory Cafe 17. Mashed Potatoes at Tender Greens 18. Twice-Baked Potato Purée at James Republic 19. Salmon at Tavern On The Coast 20. Omakase at Sushi Noguchi 21. Pescado Zarandeado at Mariscos Los Primos 22. Sausage Anything from Sabatino's 23. Cemita Poblana from El Camino Real Market 24. Champurrado and Pan Dulce from Las Tres Princesas 25. Grilled Watermelon Salad At XA Sweet & Savory Cafe 26. Beer Brat At LinX 27. Bloody Mary Brunch at Charlie Palmer 28. Pork Belly Slider From The Golden Truffle 29. Hot Chocolate at The Catch 30. 95% of the Menu at Confetti Italian Ice 31. Hu Tieu at Hu Tieu Thanh Xuan 32. Beef Salad (aka "The Bobby Special") at Sophy's Fine Thai & Cambodian Cuisine 33. "No Soup" Ramen at Santouka Ramen 34. Wild Mushroom Taco at Taco Asylum 35. Chivito at Puerto Madero/El Gaucho #2 36. Lamb Burger at Haven Gastropub 37. Breakfast Tacos at Chelas Mexican Grill 38. Grilled Brie With Apples And Fig Jam at Boudin SF 39. Fried Almond Shrimp Balls at Capital Seafood 40. Tulsa Potatoes At Tulsa Rib Company 41. Tiropites from Kentro Greek Kitchen 42. Pasta Salad from Crave 43. Chicken Plate at Surfin' Chicken 44. Rosemary Madeleine from Little Sparrow 45. Umeboshi Ochazuke at Kappo Suzumaru 46. Soft Tofu Soup at DooRei 47. Hitsumabushi at Sagami 48. The Fireball at Cortina's 49. Paint It Black Pie at Rebel Bite 50. Pidan Doufu at I-Tea Cafe 51. The Happy Hour Specials at Ahi Ahi Sushi Bar & Grill 52. Free Happy Hour Food at Gulliver's 53. Banh Tom at Van's Restaurant 54. Dinner at Marrakesh 55. Congee at Capital Seafood 56. Taquito Burrito at Cuca's Mexican Food 57. Clam Chowder at Billy's at the Beach 58. Volcan at Tacos Ruben y Mulitas 59. The Burger at ARC 60. Chocolate Chip Cookie at Crave 61. Lime Curd At Playground 62. Every Damn Thing at Mochi Cream 63. Most Things at Devilicious Donuts 64. Robiola Bosina at Provisions Market 65. Bite-Sized Stinky Tofu at Tofu King 66. Tacos Dorados at Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos 67. Tlacoyo at El Rincon Chilango 68. Whole Pig Roast at Haven Gastropub 69. Chingaderas at Smoqued BBQ 70. The Continuous Ramen Chronicles at The Playground 71. Shrimp & Grits at Slapfish 72. Bacon Cotton Candy at Biggy's Meat Market 73. Urban 3b at Urban Seoul 74. Waffles & Chicken from The Slummin' Gourmet & Waffles de Liege 75. Ahi Tuna Tartar at Nieuport 17 76. Chicken Wings at Hashigo Korean Kitchen 77. Brussels Sprouts Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza 78. Breakfast Sausage Hash at Thasos Greek Island Grille 79. Chocolate Doughnut with Jacobsen Sea Salt at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee 80. Loco Moco Dog at Dogzilla 81. Fruit Tart at Le Croissant Dore 82. Daing Na Bangus (Marinated Milkfish) Silog Breakfast at Chowking 83. Strawberry Basil Lemonade at Mick's Karma Bar 84. Lemongrass Chicken Salad at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop 85. Tofu Soup at Tasty Thai 86. Take-Out Dim Sum at Capital B.B.Q. and Dim Sum Express 87. Hodo Gwaja at Cocohodo 88. Popcorn Chicken Salad at Guppy House 89. Fried Okra at Memphis Soul Cafe & Bar 90. Salted Egg With Bitter Melon & Scrambled Egg at Tasty Noodle House 91. Boysenberry Lemonade from Bautista Creek Local Produce at SOCO Farmers' Market 92. Scallop Carpaccio with Curry Oil and Yuzu Vinaigrette from Cafe Hiro 93. White Board Specials at Taco Adobe 94. Coney Dog at LinX 95. Halal Pizzas from San Giovanni Pizzas 96. Clayuda at El Fortín 97. Lunch Buffet at Dosa Express 98. The Meats at Darya in Orange 99. Panocha at Taquería Zamora 100. Bean-and-Cheese Burrito from Del Taco

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Pagolac Restaurant

15470 Magnolia St.
Westminster, CA 92683

714-898-4740


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