Reviewing a restaurant rooted in a culture that’s Filipino to a certain degree is not an easy task. First off, I’ve never experienced a Filipino restaurant that is 100 per cent Filipino in taste in Los Angeles. Not even a Jollibee nor a ChowKing can duplicate the original flavors they are known for back home. Putting more weight on the amalgamation of cultures must be the culprit. Add to that the indigenous nutrition of hogs, cattle and fowl we have back home. I first read about The Park’s Finest from a Los Angeles blog when I was still in the Philippines. Little did I know that The Park’s Finest in the southwest Echo Park area, also known as Historic Filipinotown, has already reached household name status here.
To give you a background on The Park’s Finest, here’s a video I found on the net: Get to know Johneric Concordia, the chef behind the BBQ, which he describes as “50% Mom. 50% Pop. 100% L.A.”, and its roots.
My mom was on the verge of backing out of what she said was previously a Japanese eatery. The menu revealed overpriced items that were mostly Filipino in name only. I’ve already had a preview of what to expect through the Mount Mayon hot links I chanced upon from Ericke’s leftover a couple of weeks back. If you’ve grown up with the best ever spicy and chunky Filipino longaniza, their version might come off as an insult to heritage. Giving The Park’s Finest the benefit of the doubt, I persuaded mom that we stay, but had to compromise on what to order.
Ricky’s Delano Special which sounded much like Ilocano kilawen (or kilawin) was not available. Not even any of the desserts on the Specials menu. And so mom and I shared a Mount Malindang ribs and riblets, which is described as slow-smoked St. Louis pork ribs and rib tips, and their much talked about cornbread bibingka. Mom got white rice for herself. The ribs were the fatty kind, tasty and tender, while the riblets were overdone in comparison. With the vinegar sawsawan that tasted like sukang Iloko, it could pass for a more sosyal tinuno. At that point, I was confident coming to The Park’s Finest was, after all, a gainful food adventure.
The house sauce (in photo above) turns out to be the best thing about the BBQ at the Park’s Finest. It was mustardy, strongly garlicky, a little sweet and, interestingly, it can be an ulam alone. I ended up eating more rice than my mom.
Now let’s talk about their versatile cornbread bibingka that’s been categorized as a side. It is buttery and soft like how a raised bibingka should be. From my own perspective, somewhat symbolic, putting the cornmeal twist to the well-loved Filipino cake is much like the conceptual BBQ place itself, and it proves to be a success. Non-Filipinos have started to recognize Filipino flavors, flavors that transcend pancit, lumpia and adobo Thank you to The Park’s Finest for being passionate about what they do.
The Park’s Finest
1267 W. Temple St. Los Angeles, CA 90026
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016