100 Favorite Dishes 2012: No. 71, Gua Bao at Yummy Kitchen

This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston® issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.

Pork bellies don't seem to be as popular as they were last year (they're on the decline along with other faddish foods like cupcakes), but that doesn't mean they aren't still one of pigs' greatest gifts to the human palate: softly fatty, savory, salty and barely sweet, pork belly will always be delicious whether it's in style or not.

At my favorite Taiwanese restaurant in Chinatown, Yummy Kitchen, the pork belly-filled gua bao are also referred to as Taiwanese burgers. This fist-size finger food comes with a hulking piece of thick pork belly tucked inside a soft bun (or bao). On top are pickled mustard greens -- a necessary element to keep the fattiness of the belly in check -- and a dusting of crushed peanuts and brown sugar that make the pork taste almost like pig candy save for a bright bite of cilantro at the end.

And at Yummy Kitchen, you can get two enormous steamed pork buns for $3.95 -- two buns that are better than any others I've ever had. At Momofuku in New York, you'd pay $9 for two rather small ones. Score a point for Houston's foodie frugality, as usual.

The list so far:

No. 100: Chili cheese mac at Jus' Mac No. 99: Texas turkey sandwich at Spec's No. 98: Custard at Petite Sweets No. 97: Caprichos mixtos at Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito No. 96: Pineapple-wasabi burger at Lankford Grocery No. 95: Farmer's MKT Pizza at Phoenicia's MKT Bar No. 94: Potatoes at Money Cat Brunch No. 93: Breakfast tacos at Sunrise Taquito No. 92: Hot dog at Tacos D.F. No. 91: Avocado gelato at Frozen Cafe No. 90: Chicken sandwich at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers No. 89: Beer-battered asparagus at Hearsay No. 88: Honey Badger omelet at Kraftsmen Cafe No. 87: Pastelitos de carne at El Jalapeño No. 86: Pancakes at Union Kitchen No. 85: Wild boar and crab pizza at Boheme No. 84: Breakfast croissant at BB Donuts No. 83: Pretzel at Anvil Bar & Refuge No. 82: Short rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House No. 81: Grilled shrimp po-boy at Pappadeaux No. 80: Dahi puri at Shiv Sagar No. 79: Aporreado at Los Corrales No. 78: Oxtail francobolli at Aldo's Cucina Italiana No. 77: Tonkotsu at Cafe Kubo's No. 76: Spinach danish from Angela's Oven No. 75: Pupusas at El Petate No. 74: Pheasant dog at Sammy's Wild Game Grill No. 73: X-Tudo burger at Friends Pizzeria No. 72: Esparragos gratinados at Tintos

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