>> Ora's Kitchen | Eat the World Los Angeles

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Ora's Kitchen


COVID-19 UPDATE: This is a home-based business, everything is outside in a spacious backyard. Most folks come for pickup pre-orders.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Since this is a private residence, it does not have hours to drop in. They put on special events and should start getting back to normal (once every few months) now that the pandemic hopefully continues to be better controlled. Please get in touch with me through Twitter or Instagram if you would like warning about the next event when that is announced.

If you have ever been to the annual Panamanian Independence Day parade celebrated in late October downtown, you were probably handed a flyer or saw vendors or information being passed out on some of the only spots to track down Panamanian food the rest of the year. One of the most established of these is Ora's Kitchen, which lives in the enormous backyard paradise of a home in Carson.

Under the shadow of the noise-reducing walls of the 91, a small residential neighborhood exists in the far north of the harbor community. Close to the border with Compton, and surrounded on the other three sides by light industrial buildings, this quiet group of homes is also where to find one of Los Angeles's most unique experiences, and a food that does not exist in any restaurant throughout the Southland.

Under tents, canopies, umbrellas, and the Carson sun, be prepared to enjoy the tiniest slice of Panamá as those from the country drive from all over the region to pick up Ora's Kitchen's delicious frituras (fried goodies). The latest event was held on Sunday 28 March 2021, was blessed with perfect weather, and was also a fish fry. Deep frying pans filled with bubbling oils were at capacity for the duration of this visit.

Fish plates consisted of pargo frito (fried red snapper), patacones, and salad, and were priced at $16 or $20 depending on the size of the fish. Also included is a small cup of very lively habañero salsa that works on just about everything you order. The fish itself is fried just right, the meaty flesh still juicy and not overcooked.

Many of the other items seem to be available during most events, an assortment of Panamanian frituras. In the back of the plate below, empanadas de maiz ($2.50 each) are filled with a deliciously spiced ground beef surrounded by a hard and crispy corn shell. On the softer side are torrejitas de bacalao ($3 each, below right), cod fish cakes that also seem to have a hundred nice flavors all happening at once.

For something completely unique to Panamá, grab an order of hojaldre ($2 each, above left) and pair it with bofe ($3 per 6oz, below). The latter is a picadillo made from spongy cow lung cut up into small pieces and combined with plenty of spice and pepper. For those put off by the iron taste of the offal, pairing it with the slightly sweet hojaldre is a good remedy.

This pair is common during breakfast in Panamá, where you can find many things to eat with your hojaldre, but you will be craving it at all times of day after the first bite.

Inside the carimañolas.

Carimañolas ($2.50 each, above) can be seen on the full plate above or in section right here, more fried goodness with a meaty interior that is reminiscent of the empanadas. The difference here is that the container is made from yuca and there is a bit of cheese added inside.

If you have ever traveled to Panamá, you know that this rum-centric country also cares deeply for its drinks and its music, both of which are here for you in Carson. Ora's Kitchen sometimes host folkloric dance groups and other events. There is a separate bar hut that probably gets up and running more in the evenings when events are happening, but if you require some Ron Abuelo with Coke, they can make it happen anytime of day.

📍 Carson, The Harbor.


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