The wonders of Magic Wok’s Filipino food for the L.A. Times:
PHOTO by FRANCINE ORR / L.A. TIMES
Magic Wok is a porcine palace, a restaurant where the pillars of Filipino cooking are fortified by all things pork. Kids chomp on shards of pig skin as crisp as potato chips, grandparents leisurely ladle hunks of pork from sour tamarind soups — the homey restaurant went whole hog long before quivering cubes of pork belly cropped up on happy-hour menus and bacon became an almost de rigueur dessert.
Perhaps even more than most, Filipino cooking is a tradition that you’ll be told time and again is best experienced in the home. Restaurants, it’s often said, simply can’t replicate the custardy feel of an aunt’s cassava cake or the loving, peanut butter-rich base of a mother’s kare kare. But out on the periphery of Artesia’s Little India, Magic Wok has been making this familial food for decades.
The restaurant has never been one to be bothered by timeworn trappings — its drop ceiling, wood paneling and even its name (a holdover from when the space once housed a Chinese fast-food chain) all came with the place. Nor is it now concerned with visibility, as after a recent strip-mall remodel, Magic Wok is without a sign. Those searching out this hog heaven for the first time need only look for the constant crowds to find it.
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