My friend became completely ebullient to celebrate her birthday at this bewilderingly nondescript Echo Park area. Its exact intersection of Temple and Edgeware, and its outrageously unassuming, apartment-like white building, 2 stories tall, are the best bets for remembering--just in case the GPS suddenly became the driver's number one enemy. In addition, street parking in this area is both a necessity and an awareness because, hey, this isn't Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
This is the biggest clue to find The Park's Finest
But once discovered, its Southwestern-colored walls, with one side showcasing expressive artwork and another revealing giant, hanging wooden spoon and fork--which is traditional to boast in a Pinoy kitchen--welcomes carnivorous-craving, diet-forgetting guests to only 10 different Filipino fusion foods offered on their menu.
Introducing to a brief history, this brick-and-mortar establishment was once an exclusive catering business since 2009. Eventually they decided to graduate and gain land, similar to certain foodtrucks' footsteps in early 2012, but at the same time continue on with their mobile method.
Ahh, those utensils somehow brought nostalgia onto me...
This is it: all what's available
What's most spectacular for a party of 8 was that every, single chewable item was ordered for family-style eating. Besides the requisite fluffy carbs (i.e. rice) some were ordered twice, and the listed prices were unbelievably affordable due to their overall gigantic, sharing-is-caring portions!
Without further ado, here's the Class of Park's Finest:
Mama Leah's Coconut Beef: As hackneyed as it sounds, this creamy comfort truly flutters with home-cooked love from Nanay (which means “mother” in Tagalog). Tender smoked chuck roll lovingly stewed in such rich coconut “soup” with zesty, dimensional spices, it’s especially similar to a more customary Pinoy dish called Bicol Express. The spices from Leah, nonetheless, differentiate the traditional counterpart. If not: Nanay brought nirvana to this at 1st bite, which unfortunately I had to eat less of—to move on to the other 9…
Elote: Made up of sweet kernels, gobs of mayo, and an absurdly yet awesomely handful of shaved parmesan cheese, thankfully they cobbed them out for us. Were they perfectly tasty all the way: that’s why mayo and cheese were introduced at their finest. Cue the corniness…
Tri Tip: For something barely fatty for a crusted sirloin steak, they happily accomplished the juiciness, scrumptiousness, and palpable garlicky-ness. They were further tastier whether dunked in their white, creamy horseradish blend or their vinegary, secret soy sauce, encased in an ordinary red condiment bottle.
Mount Mayon Hot Links: I completely had zero care about my diet in the meantime. These sliced mixes of smoked sausage and Filipino-named longganisa were totally worth gorging beyond my ideal portion. Exuding such confident succulence with an assertive tinge of sweet and steady spiciness that people sensitive to chili can tolerate, these doggies, out of all the meats, cannot be ignored on the menu.
Taal Manok (Chicken): Despite the whole name on the menu, I parenthesized the English name for Manok. Obviously charred, it appropriately hinted out a little smokiness. The damper on these pieces, however, was its dryness—though it was coming from the light-colored breast. (Oh, why I did I peck the chest…)
Ligaya Veggie Medley: I may dislike bell peppers in general, no matter what form. But when I saw the magic word, “squash,” I just had to get half a cupful amount. What made them delicious as they deserve to be were the sautéed technique and the likewise generosity of garlic to make the medley very friendly.
Shortrib: Don't let that appellation fool you when executed this as a whole! They’re nicely crusty, but particularly the center, more meaty section delivered the tenderer and fattier texture. Be aware, though, that it did not pass the Off-the-Bone test, which is why savoring that middle area was best recommended. Did I mention this smoky behemoth costs $15?
Mount Malindang Pork Ribs & Riblets: One last mentioned when it comes to smoldering 'em sluggishly, the smaller morsels (aka the riblets) were juicier. Regardless, garlic indeed had gone the distance of impressing this zealot of vampire repellant.
But of course I couldn't forego discussing about the aforementioned sauces, bifurcated from one another...
The red bottle unveiled the umami side, which I personally favored--taking pride as a savory tooth. As far as the sweeter, mahogony-colored option, its slightly chunky-looking consistency was quite similar to what Pinoy families would do to their lechon: add lots of shamelessly dubbed All Purpose Sauce--in refrigerated form.
Finally, the one party-sized arrived right on time half-wrapped in banana leaves: what the birthday girl truly wished for...
Behold the ordinary-appearing yet approvingly sensational Cornbread Bibingka from Ann's. Whether ordered as a conventional tray or as sit-down serving portion (at $4), this sugar-sprinkled mix of Southern U.S. influences and traditional Filipino could utterly qualify as what common folk perceive in the traditional, layered manner: enhanced in balanced sweetness, superb moisture, sense of coconut milk, and occasional daydreams of savoring this again, and again. More excitingly, I'd unwrapped with my fork corn kernels amply scattered within.
Secretly, I'd be just as bonkers celebrating my own birthday treat by one piece.
So with all of this garbled out, I should be the person thanking the birthday girl for introducing the attendees this pearl in the rough. To keep it sheer, illuminating, and durable, however, one must make fine and deliberate judgment on when to visit. In case the news somehow haven't spread virally, a few weeks ago (as of this post) the guy known for Triple D (pun intended) and 4 famed actors stopped by, accomplished their eating and interviewing duty, therefore airing the segment on Monday, July 8, 2013.
No matter the foreseen circumstances, don't sadden Tita Ann and Tita Leah. They and The Park's Finest family will certainly welcome you with their garlicky, meaty aroma, into their bahay and happily coax you on the golden dessert.
How I indulged: buffet-style plate, round one
The Park's Finest
1267 W Temple St
Los Angeles, CA 90026