A glorious pork butt makes this new torta ahogada from Carnitas El Momo a must-eat

Torta ahogada and mulitas from Carnitas El Momo

The ahogada turtle at the new Carnitas El Momo in Monterey Park is a giant, beautiful sandwich. Food is close and personal to chef and co-owner Vanessa Hermosillo, who grew up in Juanacatlán, Jalisco, Mexico, where the sandwich originated.

“I wanted to bring a little bit of my hometown to Carnitas El Momo and make it with delicious pork butt,” she said. “In Guadalajara, that’s how you eat it.”

The sandwich had a short stint at Smorgasburg six years ago and is now on the menu at the new location. Hermosillo serves her sandwich on a split, puffed bolillo salad roll with chopped maciza and raw onion slices.

Maciza, like all proteins at Carnitas El Momo, includes pure pork, which is delicious. The sandwich was drenched in a thick ketchup that drizzled down your arm as you ate it. I’m starting to call it ahogada’s magic sauce, because it’s reminiscent of the delicious arabbiata, tomato soup, and salsa roja at the same time.

Traditionally, the tortoise is served with two sauces: the lighter tomato and the darker chile de arbol, which brings in more heat, says Hermosillo. For spice control, dip it in the tomatoes, with the chile de arbol on the side.

Mulita from Carnitas El Momo.

Mulita from Carnitas El Momo.

(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

The mullet is also irresistible. They arrived at what looked like the sun, with rays of crisp cheese jutting out and surrounding the tortillas. Hermosillo said the restaurant is now offering mullet soaked in the same ahogada sauce. I’m telling Siri to navigate me there as I type.

Special fried chicken at All Day Baby

All Day Baby's hot plate of chicken.

All Day Baby’s hot plate of chicken. The restaurant serves fried chicken once a month as part of a popular special.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

All Day Baby in Silver Lake has everything you want in a neighborhood restaurant: Friendly staff, a full bar full of greasy milkshakes, a breadboard full of pastries, a nice list and a treat especially reliable fried chicken. I follow my Instagram account, waiting for information on the next fried chicken and bubble night. It’s a monthly series of shows, introduced by co-owners Lien Ta and Jonathan Whitener, offering chicken with a variety of dishes and wine dishes. Different styles of chicken each time. On a recent Wednesday night, Whitener had hot chicken, served on thick slices of white bread with lots of sweet pickles and a cup of coleslaw. It’s much softer than what you’ll find in Nashville. The deep red oil soaked in paprika more than the chili, and my lips and sweat glands remained undisturbed.

We added one of chef Thessa Diadem’s cookies to the order. They rise higher than most and manage to crumble and peel. Things you can order any night, but they go especially well with fried chicken.

Pork and tempura combo plate at Otomisan

Pork katsu and tempura combo plate from Otomisan in Boyle Heights.

Pork katsu and tempura combo plate from Otomisan in Boyle Heights.

(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

“Midnight Diner: Tokyo Series” has become an obsession during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who haven’t seen it, the Japanese series focuses on patrons of a small restaurant that operates from midnight to 7 a.m. Special requests are encouraged, as long as the chef owner, called Master , materials are available. There is an actual printed menu at Otomisan in Boyle Heights, but the restaurant’s counter, the quiet woman with kind eyes behind the counter, and the variety of men’s trousers arranged around the counter, all gives a serious feel to “Midnight Dinner”.

The restaurant dates back to the 1950s (originally opened as Otemo Sushi Cafe), was officially designated a cultural-historical site in January, and is recognized as the oldest Japanese restaurant, operating continuously in Los Angeles. While I ate the pork katsu and tempura combo plate, alternating between panko-fried, breaded pork chops and shrimp tempura pieces, I enjoyed telling stories about the guests sitting at other stalls and stalls. The pair burst through the mesh door, craving California rolls, really agents, in a hurry to finish their sushi and go fight crime.

The woman sitting at the bar, sipping miso soup, wearing full face makeup and wearing a wig, is actually an actress who just finished a long day on the set of a 1950s period movie And me, I’m truly a food writer who finds solace in a plate of hot, deep fried food and who enjoys creating mind-blowing stories about the people in the booth next to them. I.

Chicken parm at Tommy’s Beverly Hills

Chicken Parmesan from Tommy's Beverly Hills.

Chicken Parmesan from Tommy’s Beverly Hills.

(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

I like my chicken parmesan drenched in sauce. There should be a thick layer of molten mozzarella that, if stretched, would reach the length of the dining room. The cheesecloth runs the risk of slipping off its head with the slightest nudge of the table. Cutlets should be thin but not too thin, between the Milanese beef and the appropriate steak. And the top should be hidden under the snow-white cloak of freshly shaved Parmigiano.

According to cookbook author Katie Parla, and any Italian grandma, you won’t find chicken Parmesan in Italy. It’s the orange chicken of Italian food. But at the new Tommy’s in Beverly Hills, Vartan Abgaryan is making the Italian orange chicken of my dreams. It hits all the points above, served in a beautiful dining room on the second floor of the former Bouchon restaurant, overlooking a patio with the very Instagrammable pink Beverly Hills sign. This is not an American Italian restaurant, and you won’t find a red and white checked tablecloth anywhere in the vicinity. But Chicken Parm is the gold standard. For dessert, there’s a soft roll cake served by the table.

Carnitas el Momo, 1470 Monterey Pass Rd, Monterey Park, (323) 627-8540,
All Day Baby, 3200 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 741-0082,
Otomisan, 2506 1/2 E 1st St, Los Angeles, (323) 526-1150,
Tommy’s Beverly Hills, 235 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, (310) 492-8868, A glorious pork butt makes this new torta ahogada from Carnitas El Momo a must-eat

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