CHOCHAN HAS SHUTTERED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICES. PIG TEAR :(
There was a day when I wasn’t allowed to eat pork. Bacon, pork belly, ham, sausages, ribs, chops, salami, and a whole wonderful world of the other white meat remained unkosherly off-bounds in my reform Jewish household. But my fascination for the oinking bottom feeder remained strong, and like some kind of rebellious gene inside my stomach, I’ve grown a serious craving for all things treif. So imagine my delight when I came across a place where I can act out all my porky fantasies. Any spot with the tagline “delicacies in pork” is where I want to be.
Chochán is one of the first places to start a trend of what hopefully will become the norm in Buenos Aires casual dining. A diminutive but solid menu of <mostly pork inspired> creative dishes with sandwiches, tapas-like appetizers, aperitivos, and boutique wines. We all need some more affordable restaurants serving inventive seasonal dishes — daytime spots that reinvent the old nostalgic classics while also experimenting with a new school of flavors, textures, ingredients and sauces, and paying attention to the little details.
The piglet of Luciano Vigevano, Micaela Baum, and young chef Naiara Calviño (formerly Aipim), Chochán (which means chancho or pig) serves up a cast of pork cuts utilizing the entire pig: panceta, morcilla, shoulder, tongue, belly, prosciutto, and a team of offal wonders. Since I’m a pro-pork fan, a major proponent of Aipim restaurant and pop up, and just think pig design stencils are pretty damn cool, I had a strong feeling I would get involved romantically with this place.
The menu is unlike any I’ve seen in BA. Yes, there is pork milanesa with a fried egg, braised pork belly with peanut butter, head cheese on toast, morcilla and potato croquettes, pork tongue tacos, BBQ pork sandwich, and lots of pickled vegetables. Kinda a dream boat.
Happy hour is the best hour. Especially with 2×1 drinks with a ‘lil aperitivo action just in time for some afternoon World Cup boozing: Cynar with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and a Campari with orange juice and soda.
I smiled when this appetizer was dropped at the table: homemade ham with marinated garbanzo beans and purple pickled eggs.
PURPLE PICKLED EGGS, you are just so cute and pretty with the perfect almost-runny yolk and light sprinkle of sea salt seasoning.
Even though head cheese sounds like some sort of nasty venereal disease (and kinda looks like one too), the terrine-esque paté still had a great porkified flavor. It’s made from the head, but with no cheese involved, and served with pickled vegetables and toast.
Sweet potato fried nuggets of panko crisp love.
Chochán’s version of kimchi was definitely not eaten in vain.
The discovery of a good BBQ pulled pork sandwich in Buenos Aires is something of a revelation. And this cerdo deshilachado is a porky revolution.
Beautiful chunks of slow cooked pork, with just the right fork pulled texture and browned crispy end pieces, smothered in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, and piled into a soft homemade toasted bun with a generous spooning of vinegar-y crunchy coleslaw. It’s good, reeheeheeheeally good.
Normally, the Argie thin paty hamburger patty isn’t exactly what comes to mind when my teeth are looking to messily chomp down on a juicy medium rare hunk-o-beef, but this burger still did it for me: two thin burgers, served on a homemade bun, and topped with pickles, cheese, panceta, pineapple and red onion.
Move away from the trough and head towards the sea with a fried fish sandwich topped with kimchi, carrots, cucumber, cilantro and Sriracha mayonnaise. The fish was nicely crisped and fried with a juicy inside, and married harmoniously with the spice and crunch of the kimchi and cucumbers. I’d prefer it in a sturdier crustier chewy baguette since soft bun with soft fish made for a bit too much bread sog.
SOLONG-SEEYALATER-SAYONARA to the days of asking for extra sauce on the side, and being brought two sad sorry pathetic ketchup packets. Chochán has their sauce game FIGURED OUT, SON: a Gay pride rainbow of creamy sauces is dropped off at the table upon ordering, which includes a Sriracha mayo, green mayo, honey mustard, and olive sauce. Only thing selfishly missing? A REALLY fucking mouth suffering masochist spicy sauce.
#WECANPICKLETHAT: pickled peppers, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, kimchi. A whole family of pickle jars decorates the local, along with cookbooks, wine and alcohol bottles.
Other dishes I’ll be trying next time: cerdo al jugo sandwich with avocado, cheese and criolla; roasted corn with cilantro and ricotta; blood sausage and potato croquettes; and cerdo crocante. There are also specials that change daily, a special Aipim Sunday brunch once per month, and word on the street is that a porky RAMEN may make another appearance.
Chochán opened only a few weeks ago (May 2014), so it’s only natural to give them some time to work out the kinks and get into the pork groove. With a small team running the show, expect the staff to be friendly, but a bit rough at times: running out of menu items or ingredients, slow service, and dishes taking longer than usual to come out of the kitchen.
But with such an original concept, ultra talented and passionate team, cool design, modern feel, great food and flavors, there’s no doubt Chochán won’t be a hit. Maybe it’s because I have an odd love affair for ze pork, but this tiny oink loving spot has moved to the top of the list as one of my favorites so far in 2014.