A forewarning has been posted on my Facebook page as a comment to advise all my friends and readers to plan accordingly on dining at The Park’s Finest on or before July 8 of this year–otherwise, proceed with extra cult caution–which I’ll expatiate “shortly.”
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.
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?
San Pablo Pulled Pork: If the notable hotness from those links still sounded frightening, but that vinegary soy sauce persistently called, this 16-hour, soft yet finely crispy roast is another heaping recommendation. I think they’re additionally best eaten with a carb, i.e. their steamed rice, or a toasted bun to bolster as a quintessential sandwich—but only if this one existed in Park’s…
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.