Monday, September 13, 2010

Pork and Buns

My girlfriend and I recently checked out Solbar for the first time (shocking, since it's been open for more than 30 days) and grazed through their lounge menu.  We totally wanted to order their cha siu bao pork buns, but our waitress talked us into getting the pork cheek tacos instead.  Those tacos were pretty fantastic with their tiny pickled Thai chili peppers and ripe avocado, but our pork bun craving remained in full force.  When we found ourselves at Redd's bar for dinner before the Charo concert in Yountville a few days later (an event that deserves its own post... ah, Charo), I took it as a sign from god that we should be eating pork buns that night. 

Redd's renowned open-face buns are only available at the bar, so you have to squeeze your way in among the drunken visitors and locals on the prowl to experience this porcine bliss--but it's well worth the effort.  Instead of the usual barbecued mystery meat, Redd uses smoky pork belly for the filling, diced into 3/4 inch chunks, crisped to a delicate crunchy perfection on all sides, and then glazed in hoisin sauce.  The steamed rice flour "bun" is more accurately a tender, toothsome pillow that cradles the ambrosial belly, soft taco style, capturing every drop of the bacon-laced plum sauce.  The accompanying pile of crisp julienned veggies in tangy rice wine vinegar makes a perfect foil for the rich morsels of sweet meaty delight.  We both piled the vegetables on top of the pork, folded the cloud-like bun around the assemblage, and inhaled.  Pure ecstasy.

With two five-inch buns per order, sharing this dish is probably best... but you have to really like the person you're sharing with.  There's no way I would have given up that second bun to anyone less worthy.  Keep this in mind when you plan your own pork bun pilgrimage to Y-ville.

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