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A-Braising Pork Belly at Cha Pa’s

All the belly!
All the belly!

Hell’s Kitchen may not be the typical neighborhood to head to for Vietnamese food in New York. Granted, I don’t know where the typical neighborhood for such food might be, but my coworkers thought I was crazy to head that way. Once again, though, I put my faith in my brother-in-law and his wife and found myself at Cha Pa’s looking at a vast menu with a ton of delicious-looking options. I began with a Tiger Beer.

I had almost expected to find the place to be some sort of fusion, but it turned out to just be serving up classic dishes like pho, banh mi and a plethora more, some pulling inspiration from other Asian cuisines. After trying a couple of Cha Pa’s delicious stews (chicken curry and beef) as a shared appetizer, I moved on to my main course, a Clay Pot of Braised Pork Bacon (aka pork belly) and Egg.

Bird's eye clay pot view.
Bird’s eye clay pot view.

Part of me was expecting a bibimbap type of clay pot, because I had never heard of a Vietnamese clay pot, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was served a soupy bowl of beautiful brown belly and egg with rice on the side. The dish was not prepared to look good, but was definitely prepared to taste amazing. The pork belly was incredibly tender, while the egg had been boiled in some amazing broth and had an ever so slightly runny yolk (I mean like super slightly). The best part, though, was the juices the eat and eggs were served in. It was the perfect combination of sweet and savory and probably could have made dirt taste good. With pork and eggs it took them to a higher level than I could have imagined.

Despite the Hell’s Kitchen location and maybe because of my lack of knowledge of classical Vietnamese food, I found Cha Pa’s to be delicious and I’m pretty sure anyone else would feel the same.