A trip to San Jose isn’t complete without a stop at Little Chef Counter, a delightful place that remains On Sandwiches’ most frequently reviewed establishment. The menu is constantly evolving, and when I was there most recently I found a pork belly sandwich featuring an apple compote, celery root slaw and a lemon vinaigrette. Like nearly everything I’ve had there, this was delightful. If pork belly is your thing, I can’t recommend it enough. Speaking personally, I’m not so sure pork belly is for me.
I like fat. It provides both a pleasing taste and texture, and it is a key ingredient in any number of foods that I find to be delicious. But like everything else, there’s a balance to be had, and sometimes fat just gets out of control. Pork belly…sometimes I feel like it starts out of control. There’s almost always a fair amount of gristle involved, which I suppose can’t be blamed exactly on fat, but gristle tends to come with the territory of fatty meat. It can usually be avoided, but when it comes to pork belly it seems folks either can’t or won’t. Maybe I’m looking at this from the wrong angle, and you’re ready to insist that pork belly gristle is a feature, and not a bug. I remain unsold, but that doesn’t make the sandwich above any less good. Apple and pork is a classic pairing, the celery root slaw gives an earthy base to the whole endeavor, and the citrus in the vinaigrette goes a long way in tempering the richness of the meat. It’s a great sandwich, pork belly or no.