Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holiday guests arriving? Why not stock up on, yes, barbecued meats with a Filipino twist?

A giant beef shortrib is sliced and served with horseradish crema
If a food critic says, "It doesn't have any flavor of the neighborhood it's in," it's a true slam to a place that's trying to be too slick or ignore the area's culture. This will never be said of The Park's Finest, probably the best (or only?) restaurant firmly grounded in the largely anonymous hood of Historic Filipinotown. It's a part of town south of Echo Park and west of Downtown that has no landmarks, no community monuments or gathering places and only a few small mom and pop eateries that are not recognized by even the most adventurous food bloggers.
pulled pork zings to life with a squirt of Park's bbq sauce

But the arrival of Park's at the beginning of 2012 changed all that, when Johneric Concordia took over a sushi bar on Temple Street and stocked it with smoked meats and craft beer instead of the expected pancit noodles. The Park's Finest (not to be confused with the thoroughly Korean Park's BBQ a few miles away or The Park restaurant in nearby Echo Park) sprang from a backyard catering operation and its brief menu sticks mostly with grilled meats and a few Filipino-inflected sides. We were invited recently to try a broad selection of the meats, which are all available for takeout and holiday gatherings.

The Park's is on Temple, hard by the 101 freeway
In fact, this might even be the best way to experience The Park's Finest. Because although the craft beer selection is as good as you might expect for one curated by Beer Belly's Jimmy Yune Han, the meats are mostly served alongside white rice, which doesn't always compute for those of us used to more bready accompaniments.
Cornbread works as either a dessert or a side
 Some of these lovingly long-smoke meats like turkey, pulled pork, tri-tip beef and ham are just crying out to be slapped between two hefty slices of good bread, with a dousing of their special vinegar-based sauce and maybe some jalapeno slices and a dollop of cole slaw. The saucy coconut beef, similar to Indonesian beef rendang, works well with the rice, and don't forget to order some cornbread bibingka, a moist cake-like rendition steamed in a banana leaf. The beef shortrib -- a giant beef rib scored into easy-to-remove slices -- is kind of the signature beast of the restaurant.
One of our favorites was candy-coated ham, available on the holiday catering menu

I like their housemade horseradish sauce, it would really sing with the beef on an onion roll. If you've got guests visiting over the holidays who will be pawing through your refrigerator looking for sandwich makings, they'd be pretty darn impressed to find a pile of San Pablo 16-hour smoked pork shoulder or candy-coated ham lurking in there. Of course, you could also just order up an entire office or holiday party at home from the catering menu.
Elote captures the flavors of corn sold on the street all over L.A.
 As for the sides, I recommend the elote, an indulgent bowl of Mexican street-style corn doused in mayo, parmesan and cayenne pepper, and the Ube greens, a Filipino take on collards that pair well with the Southern-style meats.
The Park's Finest
(open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week)
1267 W. Temple St.

1 comment:

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