Good Filipino restaurants are hard to find outside of (and even within) a few prominent pockets: West Covina, Historic Filipinotown, and Eagle Rock. In out-of-the-way Northridge, Lala’s Kitchen is hidden in plain sight by a vape lounge. Behind red double doors, Carl Viray, wife Pam Viray, and mom Elly Penalosa serve Filipino comfort food between white and faux brick walls, exposed wood rafters, and wall hangings with sayings like “Live Love & Play Hard” and “Love Wine.” Lola is the word for grandma in the Philippines, and Lala is what the Viray couple’s children call Penalosa. The family opened for business in 2015, and they’ve already earned a reputation for hearty rice bowls.
Lala’s Specials include Pork Belly Adobo ($7.99) firm slabs of fat-streaked pork belly braised in soy sauce and vinegar until tangy and tender. Each order arrives on a bed of garlic rice, and if you’re smart, with a sunny-side up fried egg, since the yolk doubles as sauce.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.