Grade-A Rice Bowl from a Banh Mi Hero

Scoping out single-vessel culture in Los Angeles, America's capital of laid-back food.

Hero Shop is a sandwich venture by Eric Park of meat-centric Black Hogg. It specializes in ramped-up banh mi with top-shelf ingredients like sardines, head cheese, and fatty brisket. The flavors are bold, and that “fatty” in the brisket’s title is no lie: Eric Park’s sandwiches are damn good.

You could say the same about Hero Shop's rice bowls. Rice bowls at a sandwich shop? Park noticed the demand for Black Hogg’s coconut jasmine rice and decided to just run with it. I tried a BBQ pork bowl ($9) on my third visit to Hero Shop. (Any earlier and it would have been like walking into the The Apple Pan on a first or second run and ordering the tuna: wrong as far as timing goes, but a strong choice nevertheless.)

The pork butt had a familiar taste of taco-stand pastor. The Spanish morcilla (blood sausage) I asked the kitchen to toss in (it's available separately, in a bowl with sweet peppers, also $9) was lighter than I expected, with the faintest taste of iron. There was a lot going on—smoke from sautéed jalapeños that had charred, the sharpness of onion, a cooling tartness from pickled carrots and daikon, and the richness of egg yolk cooked sous vide. None of it overwhelmed my palate.

Park is smart to use slightly creamy coconut rice as the foundation for all his bowls—it’s not often I find myself scraping to avoid squandering the last few grains of anything.

Hero Shop [DTLA]
130 E. Sixth Street, Los Angeles; 213-265-7561

Bowl grade: A

Photos by Emily Buckingham

Justin Bolois is a writer living in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBolois.