The Manila Machine, Los Angeles’ first and only Filipino food truck, debuted last Thursday night at Downtown’s Art Walk. While it’s usually not a good idea to check out an eatery on its first night of service, I couldn’t help myself in this situation. In addition to being the first to introduce Pinoy cuisine in mobile form, The Manila Machine is also the first truck to be owned and operated by bloggers! My friends Nastassia Johnson of Let Me Eat Cake and Marvin Gapultos of Burnt Lumpia are the two talents behind the project. To show my support and admiration, I just had to be present for their inaugural service.
The Manila Machine’s menu is straightforward and full of crowd pleasing fare. There are freshly fried lumpias (Filipino egg rolls), pan de sal sliders made using traditional Filipino bread, and a slew of island-inspired desserts. Marvin heads up the savory side of the menu, while Nastassia handles sweets. The truck will also be selling a number of specials each day, including soups and stews.
- We started with an order of lumpiang Shanghai ($2), which was served with a well-balanced sweet and sour sauce. Filled with seasoned pork, carrots, and ginger, the egg rolls were deep-fried to golden perfection. [Marvin, you've come a long way since the days of regularly burning lumpias!]
Next, we dug into a duo of sliders ($2.50 a piece). The longganisang hubad (“naked” sausage) slider was piled high with pork and garlic sausage patties, caramelized onions, arugula, and mango jam. The toasty pan de sal held everything together nicely. The slider was definitely tasty, but the jam’s sweetness overshadowed the meat’s lovely smoky flavors.
The slider that had The Astronomer and me fighting over the last bite was the tapa (cured beef) with achara (pickled green papaya) slaw, and spicy Sriracha mayo. All of the flavors came together harmoniously and deliciously—this is definitely a must-have item.
Our final savory item was the pork and pineapple adobo ($6) served with steamed jasmine rice. Braised in a sweet and tangy vinegar sauce, the pork was pleasingly tender and very flavorful. Digging into this homey dish made me feel like a guest at the Gapultos family dinner table.
Finally, a kalamansi tart ($2). The texture of the crust and filling were spot on, but The Astronomer and I would’ve preferred a tangier curd—we like our citrus desserts unabashedly punchy. The Manila Machine’s leche flan, halo halo, and ube cupcakes also sounded promising.
The Astronomer and I were fortunate to have arrived when we did because The Manila Machine sold out of everything on their first night of service! It seems to me that Los Angeles is ready for Filipino food and The Manila Machine is ready to dish it out.
Follow The Manila Machine on Twitter @ManilaMachine. * CLOSED *