Pork Belly Dishes that Will Make You Forget About Bacon

This delicious cut of pork is not just a flash in the pan

Pork Belly Dishes that Will Make You Forget About Bacon

Flickr/ T

While bacon is a near-perfect food with no need for embellishment, the possibilities are virtually limitless when it comes to the myriad other delicacies one can make with pork belly, and some of America’s leading chefs have made the versatile protein their own.

Momofuku, New York: Pork Belly Buns

Flickr/ Sarah Mulligan

These buns were one of the dishes that started it all for chef David Chang. He uses pork belly that’s been brined for 12 hours and slow roasted, and tucks it into a steamed bun with cucumbers and scallions. A true masterpiece. 

Chego, Los Angeles: Chubby Pork Belly Bowl

Flickr/ hermitsmoores

You may have heard of Roy Choi thanks to the success of his Kogi BBQ truck (which we recently named America’s best), but he also runs a handful of restaurants in L.A., including Chego, a perfect spot to visit after a night of drinking. The most hangover-busting dish on the menu is the Chubby Pork Belly Bowl. To make this dish, thick chunks of pork belly are spiced with a Korean chile paste called gochujang, charred over an open flame, then tossed with spinach, Chinese broccoli, pickled radishes, and Thai basil. The whole mess gets piled on top of a mountain of sticky rice, then topped with crushed peanuts, salsa verde, sambal sauce, and a fried egg. 

Maharlika, New York: Lechon Kawali

Flickr/ Matthew Mendoza

This Filipino hotspot salt-cures their pork belly before deep-frying it until golden brown and crispy. A cross between bacon and chicharrón, and pure pork-belly heaven. 

Big Star, Chicago: Taco de Panza

Flickr/ T

Pork belly tacos are nothing new, but Chicago chef Paul Kahan (also known for The Blackbird and The Publican) is elevating it to new heights at his perpetually packed taquería, Big Star. To make his taco de panza, pork belly is braised until it’s falling apart, then cooled, sliced, and fried until crispy. It’s tucked into a tortilla and topped with tomato guajillo sauce, queso fresco, onions, and cilantro, and it’s one of the best tacos you’ll ever eat. 

Fette Sau, Brooklyn: Smoked Pork Belly

Flickr/ Joshua Bousel

Brooklyn’s Fette Sau is one of the most innovative barbecue spots in the country, and they’re not afraid to put some unconventional meats in the smoker, like Berkshire pork belly. The results are fall-apart tender, deeply flavorful, and covered in heavenly caramelized bark. 

Sotto, Los Angeles: Porcetto

Amy Scattergood

To make this sandwich, a Sardinian spin on the traditional porchetta, whole suckling pigs are slowly roasted before being thinly sliced. The meat (heavy on the skin and belly) is then piled onto thick-sliced brown bread and simply dressed with some greens. Minimalist and delicious. 


Red Lantern, Seattle: Brown Braised Pork Belly with Tofu

Yelp/ Tris N

This classic Chinese dish is a standout on the menu at the popular contemporary Asian spot. Pork belly is braised until falling apart in soy sauce and sugar, and it’s served with soft tofu in a rich brown sauce.


Kyo Ya, New York: Kurobuta Kakuni

Premshree Pillai

At this subterranean restaurant, called a “Japanese hideaway” by Pete Wells, the pork belly is slowly simmered until it’s soft and tender, then served with snow peas, a light and faintly sweet glaze, and mustard. 

Yardbird, Miami: Fried Green Tomato and Pork Belly BLT

Flickr

This down-home Southern spot is best known for its fried chicken and waffles, but if you think you can find the stomach space, start with the fried green tomato and pork belly BLT. The thick-sliced breaded and fried tomato is topped with housemade pimento cheese, umami-rich tomato jam, and a thick-sliced, crispy, and juicy hunk of pork belly. 

Husk, Charleston: Heritage Pork Belly

Flickr/ Wally Gobetz

The menu at Sean Brock’s Husk changes seasonally, but there’s almost always a big hunk of pork belly somewhere on it. Whether it’s served with snow peas and mushrooms or cornbread salad and pickled peaches, it’s always a winning dish.