The Best Porridge in Los Angeles

Carolina Gold Rice Porridge at Eagle Rock Brewery Public House | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Porridge, the result of grains that boil in hot water or stock, supports a range of ingredients and toppings worldwide. Los Angeles has plenty of Asian-influenced and market-driven examples of porridge. Read on and enjoy these 12 leading porridge providers.

Ancient PB+J at Backyard Bowls | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Backyard Bowls



This Santa Barbara import debuted in 2008 and recently expanded to L.A. Their Mid-City spot sports brick walls, exposed rafters, white picnic tables, wood-framed clean room for juice, factory type production line and patio with small blue tables. Backyard Bowls crafts four different porridges, including two steel-cut oatmeals and a pair of Ancient Grains starring quinoa, amaranth and teff. Their Ancient PB+J consists of warm grains, cashew milk, peanut butter, crushed almonds, berry preserves and sliced banana.

Mushroom & Oyster Juk at Bonjuk | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Bonjuk



Hyun Sook Kim’s L.A. branch of this popular Korean chain features high-backed blue chairs, spa-appropriate music and 17 different porridge varieties. Generous helpings of risotto-like rice grains are available with options like Octopus with Kimchi, with chewy tentacles and fire-red color that “helps digestion and is good for recovery from weariness and illness.” Shrimp Porridge’s “rich protein and taurine helps children's growth and keep beauty for women." Mushroom & Oyster Juk showcases sliced shitakes and tiny, plump oysters. Each porridge bowl comes topped with dried seaweed and crushed sesame seeds and appears with cool dishes of crunchy kimchi, soy-soaked short rib, chile-stained minced garlic condiment, and a dish of cool, bracing radish soup.

Carolina Gold Rice Porridge at Eagle Rock Brewery Public House | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Eagle Rock Brewery Public House



Glassell Park favorite Eagle Rock Brewery expanded to Eagle Rock proper with the opening of their restaurant (soon to become a brewpub). The space features roll-up garage doors, exposed wood rafters, brick walls, a polished wood bar, strings of lights, and eight Eagle Rock Brewery beers on tap. Jerry Su, the brother of ERB co-founder Ting Su, oversees the kitchen, which avoids expected beer-friendly fare like hamburgers. Weekend brunch brings Carolina Gold Rice Porridge with luxurious heirloom rice topped with colorful ingredients that provide varied textural contrast, including radishes, celery, mushrooms, mizuna, pearl onions and nasturtiums. Be smart and make sure to add soft-boiled egg.

Four-Grain Porridge at Gjelina Take Away | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Gjelina Take Away



Chef Travis Lett and business partner Fran Camaj built upon Gjelina’s success by adding an ambitious grab-and-go eatery along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. The menu appears on butcher paper, pizzas cook in two marble-framed wood-burning ovens and pastries line wood counters. Customers line up for breakfast, lunch and dinner and huddle in the adjacent alley and eat on benches and crates. Four-Grain Porridge is a popular breakfast option, featuring warm barley, oats, farro and quinoa bolstered with milk, honey, walnuts, vanilla and cinnamon. Each bowl comes topped with seasonal fruit, most recently a medley of ripe blackberries strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

Grandpa's Porridge with Mushroom & Shallots at Good Girl Dinette | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Good Girl Dinette



This "American diner meets Vietnamese comfort food" from Diep Tran resides on a Highland Park side street. The space features a glass front, brick and white walls, olive green chairs, orange banquette and counter seating, and overhead strings of colorful paper birds. Grandpa's Porridge consists of boiled brown rice, Napa cabbage and herbs. Choose from beef neck bone, white meat chicken, or our choice, Mushroom & Shallots with oyster mushrooms, fried shallots, scallions, finely chopped cilantro and healthy dusting of white pepper. Condiments include a squeeze of lime, bean sprouts, basil and jalapeño.

Porridge at Har Lam Kee | Photo by Joshua Lurie

This Monterey Park institution houses speckled-black Formica tables and pale yellow walls lined with artistic wood carvings. Har Lam Kee, which has been open for two decades, with the original and current owners all from Hong Kong. They serve 14 different variations on water-based porridge, including Sha Tian style with chicken, House Special Porridge with shrimp, fish filet and scallop, and our server's favorite, Lai Wan Style with pork skin, minced beef (loose meatball bound with rice vermicelli) and firm strips of salted pork. There may have been a squid tentacle as well. Each bowl is garnished with scallions, crispy wonton strips and peanuts. Dust with white pepper.

Breakfast Porridge at Huckleberry | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Huckleberry Cafe & Restaurant



Zoe Nathan and husband Josh Loeb have built Huckleberry into a juggernaut since opening the doors to their airy café and bakery in 2009. Seasonality is a core belief at this establishment, and Breakfast Porridge is no exception. Hot steel-cut oats soak up whole milk and host poppy seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, toasted almond shavings and seasonal fruit. During our visit, that meant near-molten yellow peaches, which added welcome sweetness to the bowl.

Kenter Canyon Stone Ground Porridge at Jon and Vinny's | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Jon and Vinny’s



Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo serve three meals daily at perhaps their most ambitious restaurant to date. The space features clean wood from floor to ceiling, skylights, an open kitchen, jam-packed pastry case, and Helen’s wine shop in back from group Director of Operations/Wine Director Helen Johannesen. Kenter Canyon Stone Ground Porridge is a luxurious way to start your day, with help from toasted almonds, Gaviota strawberries, orange blossom honey, and a choice of organic whole milk or almond milk.

Hemp Vanilla Porridge at Leona | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Leona

Chef Nyesha Arrington and partners Kristian and Breegan Vallas feature "California progressive Cuisine" in Venice, drawing on the "Mosaic of the Golden State." This space touts a light wood facade, tan awning, inviting patio, dining room with high ceiling, and black-and-white photos of bygone Venice beach scenes. Leona refers to the former name of Washington Boulevard. Hemp Vanilla Porridge is hippie-friendly, nutty version with hemp milk, tapioca, a blend of hemp, sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds, shaved almonds, Harry's Berries (strawberries and blueberries), and rooftop mint.

It's A Joke at Otus Thai Kitchen & Coffee | Photo by Joshua Lurie

OTUS Thai Kitchen & Coffee



This Hollywood café with glass front, copper tables, globe lanterns, skylights, and an oasis-like back patio with wood and grey walls, presents Thai comfort food in a modern setting. Playful dishes include It's A Joke, their name for hot rice porridge enlivened with chewy shiitake mushrooms, fresh shaved ginger, runny poached egg, scallions, and crispy rice noodles. Dig into the porridge before the rice noodles get soaked.

Arroz Caldo at Republique | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Republique



Chef Walter Manzke co-owns a burgeoning chain of Wildflour restaurants in Manila. When he flies to the Philippines to check in on the restaurants, he typically enjoys arroz caldo, Filipino-style porridge, in the Philippine Airlines lounge before takeoff. This inspired Manzke to put his spin on arroz caldo back in L.A. At Republique, he’s served two different iterations of Arroz Caldo, one with a seafood stock, a number of sea creatures, including uni, and squid ink. The second version, which is available during weekend brunch, features jasmine rice bolstered with pork stock, fish sauce, onion, garlic and ginger. Cook Pigs Ranch pork parts include collagen-rich head and feet meat and crisp-skinned, salt-cured belly strips. A single Nancy's Orchard duck egg, fried a la plancha until crispy, further enriches the broth. Crispy garlic, scallions and a small dollop of Huy Fong Foods sambal oelek chile sauce complete the bold bowl. In the Philippines, they’d provide calamansi to help cut the richness. At Republique, they substitute a lime.

Brown Rice Porridge at SQIRL | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Sqirl



Porridge resides on the “sweeter side” at Jessica Koslow’s ever-evolving culinary destination in Virgil Village. She makes Brown Rice Porridge with Kukuho Rose brown rice, Straus milk, toasted hazelnuts, and a choice of jam. Depending on the season, that could be Santa Rosa plum and flowering thyme, Blenheim apricot, Seascape strawberry and rose geranium, or Rutiz blackberry and lemon verbena. You also get a choice of hot or cold, which comes down to personal preference or outside temperature. SQIRL also provides a vegan version with house-made almond milk, if that’s your jam.