Great news out of Park’s Finest, the upgraded from a catering company Filipino barbecue brick and mortar just outside of Downtown L.A. A few weeks ago they introduced “Worker Wednesdays”, a new lunch special that includes coconut beef, pulled pork, sausage links, chicken, cornbread, veggies and rice. And the best part is, this greatest hits platter costs just $10. It’s only on Wednesdays, but it’s hard to complain once you see what you get for your money. Order the special solo (or to go) and you get the borderline massive plate seen above. Go with a big crew, and they’ll most likely serve you family style. Last Wednesday we went as a party of four, paid $10 a piece and got this ridiculous feast…
Archive for 'Filipino'
I can’t remember when exactly I first heard about Park’s Finest, the neighborhood BBQ outfit turned professional caterer turned brick and mortar that’s been cooking up their brand of Filipino BBQ since the 80s. But I do remember the disappointment I felt when I discovered that their brand new restaurant, on Temple just outside of Downtown L.A., was only open on Friday nights for dinner! Thankfully this setback was purely temporary, because last week (after a brief flirtation with random Tuesday lunches) they started a new Thursday-Sunday lunch and dinner schedule.
If you take 2nd street a few blocks north west out of Downtown L.A. you’ll find an amazing little stretch of Glendale Boulevard on the border of Westlake and Echo Park. It’s mostly deserted, save for two unassuming restaurants who both serve amazing chicken. I found myself over there on Friday with Nastassia Johnson, the founder of the Manila Machine Truck (R.I.P.), to continue my Filipino food education at a place called Bernie’s Teriyaki. But once I saw that the popular Haitian rotisserie chicken place Tigeorges was right across the street, I knew a double lunch was in order!
Ever since the Manila Machine food truck closed back in April I’ve been on a hunt for decent Filipino food between Downtown and Santa Monica, and who better to help me on my quest than Nastassia- the brains behind the whole Manila Machine operation. For our first stop back in June we hit up Aristocrat, a newish steam table place in K-Town where we found a decent kare kare, among other tasty dishes. Better than average, but nothing that was going to halt our search. But where to go next?
Enter Lunch’er Remil to save the day (aka Pinoy Panda). Shortly after our trip to Aristocrat he was a profiled L.A. luncher and gave us two quality recs off of Alvarado, just to the NE of Downtown L.A.: Salakot Sizzle and Grill (a sit down restaurant, and his personal favorite in the area), and Bahay Kubo Natin (a steam table place for a quick lunch.) Always going for the quick and the cheap, we decided to hit up Bahay Kubo first…
It’s overwhelming to think of how much amazing ethnic food there is in Los Angeles. And while there are plenty of great modern day resources for exploring Koreatown or Thai Town or the SGV or South Bay or East L.A., there is something irresistible about asking somebody who lives in or grew up eating in one those neighborhoods for their favorites. I know I do it. “Oh, you’re Korean? What’s your favorite place to eat on Vermont?” “Oooh… your parents live in Monterrey Park? Where’s the best place for Dim Sum?” And most of the time people are more than happy to spout off lists of their favorite places to eat. (Hell, musician Bill Esparza has practically made a second career for himself recommending Mexican places in the city and beyond.)
But ask somebody Filipino where to get the best Filipino food in Los Angeles and they always say the same thing: “At my house.” L.A. sports the largest Filipino population in the U.S. and there are plenty of places to eat Filipino food in the city, from Echo Park to K-Town to Arcadia (where I had some of the best fried pork I’ve ever had in my life.) But ask a Filipino person which one is the best, and they’ll likely tell you the same thing… “none of those places are as good as the food my mom makes.” Sadly, my mom is not Filipino. So if I want lumpia (fried egg rolls) or longanisa (sausage) or adobo or sisig (fried pig face) or kare kare (in all its peanut-y goodness) it’s off to a restaurant for me. Echo Park is the obvious choice, but there are actually plenty of places in the far more centralized Koreatown.
I’m a huge fan of the Manila Machine, but they’re kind of limited by being a food truck- and sometimes even I don’t feel like chasing down your lunch on twitter. Plus MM doesn’t completely satisfy my craving for down home Filipino food. (For one thing, their sisig is made from only cheeks!) Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a good brick and mortar Filipino place between Downtown and Santa Monica, a fact that was reinforced by a recent out of bounds lunchtime visit to The Magic Wok in Artesia. I don’t normally have the time to travel that far for lunch, but when I heard they were the best Filipino restaurant in Southern California I felt compelled to go the extra mile(s). And I was rewarded with two of the best pork dishes I’ve ever had in my life.
Warning: If you like crispy pork clicking the jump will make you want to drive to Artesia for lunch.
There were quite a few standouts at the LA Food Fest tasting event last weekend at the Rose Bowl, but none stood out more to me than the pork belly adobo served up by the Manila Machine, a Filipino food truck that hit the streets of L.A. back in June. Run by two popular food bloggers (not a joke), the truck launched with a ton of great press (mostly by bloggers, natch) but I couldn’t help but be a little skeptical. Nobody gets more excited about street food than me, and I’ve been covering the ascent of the “hipster truck” for over 4 years now. But I’ve also been burned by one too many mediocre new school food trucks, and have gradually gone from feeling like “anything new with four wheels is worth getting excited about!” to “I’m going to wait until I hear something really good from somebody who isn’t friends with the owner of the food truck, or getting free food” before I dig in.
A single bite of pork belly adobo with pineapple changed all of that, so on Friday I found myself on Olympic btw. Bundy and Centinela- ordering practically the Manila Machine’s entire menu.