Five Must-Order Dishes at Mission Sensation Piglet & Co
Whatever you do, don’t try to put Piglet & Co into a box. Opened on Mission Street by Chris Yang and his wife Marcelle Gonzales Yang — both of whom previously ran the Taiwanese pop-up El Chino Grande together — the hot new restaurant expands on their earlier work … and adds so much more.
Yang’s parents immigrated from Taiwan, and he was born and raised in the Bay. His dad worked in the hotel industry, so the family moved around a lot as a kid — Chicago, Arizona, Indiana, Hawaii. Yang also cooked at the shuttered modern Hawaii eatery ‘aina as well as Hi Lo BBQ, so he draws on his multitude different experiences, cultures, and cuisines in his cooking. The result is delicious. We take a deep dive into five of the dishes below.
1. Mala BBQ Pork Ribs
“I’m always ordering ribs, and I’m particular about them,” says Yang. Particular might be an understatement. Yang and team garnish each rib intentionally and intricately before serving. There are little dots of creamy koji mayo for extra umami blasts, a pink colored pickled red onion relish for acid, and crispy bubu arare (round rice crackers) that add a nice nutty-flavored crunch to each bite. Those little micro green garnishes look nice and add freshness.
For the ribs themselves, Yang sources high quality Duroc heritage pork that he cures overnight before wrapping in foil and roasting until tender, but not quite fall-off-the-bone. He then glazes the ribs in a spicy, mouth-numbing sauce made with caramelized miso and fortified with Sichuan peppercorns before grilling it over binchotan. The team makes the aforementioned finishing touches before plating, and the result is a flavorful contrast of textures and flavors, a rib unlike any other you’ve had before.
2. Honey Walnut Shrimp & Pork Toast
This dish is inspired by two of Yang’s favorite Chinese dishes: shrimp toast and honey walnut shrimp. Yang throws in a little bit of pork in the mix, too (the restaurant is called Piglet & Co, after all). “We love pork — we try and sneak it into everything we do,” says Yang.
Yang sources shokupan (a Japanese milkbread) from Andersen Bakery. He cuts the crusts off, slathers with it butter and toasts on the plancha until crispy. It’s topped with a crunchy walnut relish that’s mixed with a ginger-scallion sauce, which adds a sweet, salty, savory, crunchy layer to the dish. It’s then topped with a double-breaded pork/shrimp patty, followed by burnt honey mayo, nori furikake, and a cute mico green garnish. “Sweet and savory dishes are my jam,” says Yang.
3. Glazed Fried Chicken Wings
“I love chicken wings, and I love fried chicken,” says Yang. “I’m a fat boy at heart. 95% of the time if we go out and there’s chicken wings on the menu, I’m going to order it.”
This specific rendition at Piglet and Co is Korean-inspired and is a three-day process. Yang sources Mary’s chicken wings that he brines in brown sugar, salt, and five spice. The next day, the wings are put on sheet racks and dried in the fridge, which helps hold the coating better. On the final day, the wings are dredged in four different types of starches, and then triple fried.
After the final fry, the wings are tossed in a gochujang-based glaze, then tossed in the oven to caramelize the glaze and create a tacky, sticky texture. The dish is served with daikon pickles and a creamy black sesame slaw to help balance the spicy and sweetness of the wings.
4. Smoked Potatoes
At the old Hog & Rocks restaurant nearby on 17th St where Yang used to cook (and where he met his wife and partner Marcelle), he remembers tossing hand-cut French fries in egg yolk, salt, and malt vinegar. These smoked potatoes are an homage to that dish.
Yang first smokes marbled potatoes over mesquite, then boils them until tender and creamy. He then fries them fresh to order until a little crispy and tosses with a smoked egg yolk jam, salt, chives, and furikake. He also tosses in a fermented purple cabbage relish and some pickles for some acid, as well as finished with a little bit of shaved karasumi (dried mullet, similar to bottarga) for a little extra salty umami along with a bit of nori.
The inspiration for the mochi dessert comes from Yang’s childhood dessert memories: “Growing up, after a lot of banquets at Chinese restaurants, at the end you get a chilled tapioca pudding or sweet red bean soup or orange slices,” says Yang. “Everyone in my family never ate those — I’d eat it all. It’s very nostalgic.”
Yang takes these components and combines them all into one satisfying dessert. He cooks down tapioca and mixes with simple syrup and coconut milk, then adds a sweetened red bean jam, chewy purple sweet potato mochi that he makes like a gnocchi, and seasonal fruits (expect blackberries and strawberries for spring). The entire thing gets dusted with kinako powder, a roasted soybean powder to lends a little bit of nuttiness, and then gets garnished with wood sorrel and bachelor button corn flowers. Mix it all together, so each bite is a surprising delight.
Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco-based writer & cookie dough professional. Find him at @ommmar.