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24Jan/112

Mighty Boba Truck

Mighty Boba Truck

The Mighty Boba Truck is one of two boba-centric trucks currently on the road - the other is simply called The Boba Truck. Mighty Boba serves different flavored teas with tapioca pearls; it also features Taiwanese snack food such as boneless pork chop, popcorn chicken, and sausage.

Popcorn chicken at The Mighty Boba Truck

Their food's available in a snack-size portion ($4), or in a lunch box ($6), which also contains rice and veggies. I got a snack-size portion of the spicy buttermilk popcorn chicken. Small pieces of light and dark meat were coated in a tangy, slightly sweet breading that packed a bit of heat. Just two tiny complaints: the chicken was ever so slightly overdone, making the breading tough to bite through in places; and it could have used a pinch less salt. Otherwise, it was really tasty, and I ended up getting it again a few weeks after this first visit.

We got two boba teas ($4 each, plus $0.50 each for the boba): black milk tea and honey milk green tea. The boba were a tad smaller than what I've determined to be "standard" boba size. Like too-large matzo balls, big boba tend to be less flavorful, and their outside skins start to soften and slough off, creating a gelatinous muck on their surfaces. (Can you tell I've eaten quite a bit of boba in my time?) These smaller boba were chewy and tasty. They also zoomed up the big boba straw, meaning I pretty much had a perfectly sized mouthful of tapioca every time I took a sip of tea.

Boba tea from The Mighty Boba Truck

I could have drunk a gallon of the black milk tea. (It's a good thing I didn't, though, or I wouldn't have slept for the next three or four days.) So many boba places drown their black tea's flavor in milk and sugar, but here, the tea definitely kept its smoky aroma, even though it was surrounded by sweetness. This boba tea is higher-quality than the tea you'll find in a lot of boba joints, because it doesn't taste like someone made a giant vat of it; it tastes as if it was brewed just for you.

The honey green milk tea was almost preposterously sweet. I loved it, but for those of you who prefer less sugar in your tea, the Mighty Boba Truck will make it how you like it - just ask.

The Mighty Boba Truck

The truck doesn't have too many options for vegetarians, but then again, it is a snack-and-drink truck rather than a full-on meal-serving machine. On the day I visited the truck, there was one vegetarian choice on the menu: sweet potato fries with condensed milk ($4). Looking at the menu online, I see the truck also offers pan-fried tofu steak with a honey-soy sauce glaze. Since I'm a sucker for anything with condensed milk, I'm going to try the sweet potato fries on my next visit to the Mighty Boba Truck.

Photos by Oliver Seldman

21Jan/111

No Tomatoes Truck

No Tomatoes truck

No Tomatoes is an Indian food truck that's been on the road for about eight weeks now. It gets its name from one of its co-owners' food-ordering habits. He noticed he was always asking for menu items sans the red fruit, and so he decided to turn that preference into his truck's gimmick. The cute thing is: the truck's soda-and-chips side display features a big stack of plump, bright red tomatoes. They're free, and you can ask for them to be included in any of the truck's dishes.

Tomatoes on the No Tomatoes truck

I paid my first visit to the truck on a freezing night in West LA, on Sawtelle and Olympic. Their menu included: a kathi roll - a whole-wheat wrap filled with either shredded meat or veggies; a chapli burger - ground beef or chicken on a burger bun with mint chutney and red chilies; and biryani rice, which is what I ordered. The dish consists of saffron-flavored biryani rice and tender pieces of chicken, garnished with red onion, cilantro and mint chutney. I got the combo ($8), which came with a drink and two samosas. My food came up super quick, and was piping hot. The spice level was perfect for a pantywaist like me - it was full of flavor, but not mouth-burning. The biryani gracefully walked the line between succulence and greasiness without once stepping over to the dark side.

Biryani and samosas from the No Tomatoes truck

The samosas were stuffed with ground beef and potatoes, and practically melted in my mouth. To heck with crispy samosas, I say; the doughier the better. These delivered.

No Tomatoes served up some seriously delicious Indian street food. I felt like I'd eaten a decadent meal, but escaped the grease hangover that so often accompanies dishes like the ones I chose. I have only one request to make of these lycopene-eschewing folks: that they start offering desserts.

The No Tomatoes truck

Photos by Oliver Seldman

17Jan/112

10 Most Reliably Delicious Food-Truck Menu Items

Sometimes I'm not in the mood to try a new truck; sometimes I want to eat food I already know I love. Other times, I hit the street in pursuit of a specific taste memory I want to relive. In these situations, I have a growing list of favorite menu items that I'm sure will be great every time. Here, in no particular order, are my 10 most reliably delicious food-truck dishes.

1. Bamwich, TastyMeat! ($8 for footlong, $6 for eight-inch version). Beef/lamb (hence "bam") shawarma wrapped in a pita, with romaine lettuce, roma tomato, red onion, tzatziki, red feta sauce and tahini. Shaved thin, the meat tastes like it's marinated in garlic, yogurt and vinegar, making it tangy and piquant. If you're a slow eater like me, get the eight-inch instead of the footlong - it's less likely to fall apart and unleash its innards into your lap.

2. Beef gyro, Louks To Go ($5). Beef, tzatziki, tomato, onion, and french fries all rolled up inside the best pita I've ever eaten. It's soft and tender, and you can taste the olive oil in it. Of all the meat options on the Louks truck, I've found the beef to be the most dependably delicious. This dish made me a raw-onion convert - I love their crunch and peppery bite in the sandwich, and I even love the crazy onion breath they give me, although I'm sure my friends and family aren't quite as enthused about that part.

Louks beef gyro

3. Lemongrass chicken or pork banh mi, Phamish ($6). Considering how often I visit the truck, it's ridiculous that I haven't yet reviewed Phamish. This Vietnamese sandwich comes with pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro and jalapeno peppers on a baguette. I opt to leave off the garlic mayo. The lemongrass chicken and pork are intensely flavorful; while many friends of mine love Phamish's lemongrass tofu banh mi, I find the tofu soaks up a bit too much marinade for me - but it's still one of the tastiest veggie sandwich options in town. I tend to think the chicken and pork stand up better to the marinade's flavor onslaught, maintaining their own personalities. The bread is flat-out awesome - the outside's crunchy without being mouth-splintering, and the inside is pillowy soft. Of all the items on this list, this sandwich travels the best - it's the perfect to-go meal.

4. Crack chips, Chef Brian's Comfort Truck ($2). Oh, delicious deep-fried flour tortilla chips! Why are there only 6 of them in a serving? I've tried making these at home, but they never come out so gloriously golden. This is the only food-truck menu item I've brought home, eaten in five minutes flat, then considered driving all the way back to the truck immediately, just to get more.

Crack chips from Chef Brian's Comfort Truch

5. Balsamic fig and mascarpone ice cream, Coolhaus ($5). Hunks of fig dot this dense, subtly flavored ice cream. Coolhaus' thing is that you get the ice cream between two cookies, but I barely notice them when I'm eating ice cream this good. That said, oatmeal raisin cookies work really well with the flavors of fig and sweet cheese.

6. Mini meat pie ($3 for two), Kabob n' Roll. I like my meat pies doughy, not flaky, and as deep-fried as humanly possible. These small empanada-like meat pockets fit the bill. The ground beef inside is rich with gravy. The pastry melts in your mouth.

7. Butter chicken, India Jones ($7). These tender chunks of chicken breast come in a thick, creamy sauce with a side of basmati rice. It's an appropriately sized portion rather than a gargantuan mound of food - which means you'll have room in your stomach to order several other items from the India Jones menu - and it's been consistently good every time I've had it.

8. Holding the joint number 8 spot are: the carne asada taco from KO Tacos ($2.50), and the carne asada taco from Don Chow Tacos ($2).The KO taco's filled with super-juicy beef and tangy, crumbly cotija cheese. Don Chow hasn't been around my neck of the woods lately, and I've missed regularly nomming on their perfectly seasoned carne asada taco.

(Bottom) Carne asada taco from KO Taco Truck

9. A hot dog from The Greasy Wiener. When you have a hot-dog craving, the Greasy Wiener satisfies every time. You can go for the basics if you're in a no-frills mood: the Greasy Wiener's namesake dog has mustard, grilled onions, a dill pickle spear and one topping (we get sauerkraut). If you'd like a bit more 'zazz, go for a Berkowitz, a bacon-wrapped dog with chili and cheese. Your craving for a dog may lead to a burger jones - ours often do. If so, the Wiener has Iggys: two Angus beef sliders topped with American cheese on King's Hawaiian rolls. They're a no-fail burger solution.

10. Barbecued meat, Barbie's Q ($8 for a sampler plate). Whether it's pulled pork, barbecued beef, or smoked chicken, the meat on this truck is absolutely top-notch. A friend once skipped the sides (excellent collard greens, cheesy grits, and mac and cheese)  and ordered nothin' but a big old plate of meat from Barbie's - and that was his entire dinner. That's pretty much a ringing endorsement right there. Oh, and by the way? He ate that plate - and then he ordered another one, to go.

I considered adding some other menu items to this list, but I can't yet call them reliable: either I've only had them once, or I sampled them a second time, only to be ever so slightly disappointed. That said, I hope to be adding more dishes to the list very soon. One item I would love to include: the cheeseburger dumplings from Dim Sum Truck. I was so disappointed on the first Melrose Night when the truck sold out of them before I got a chance to order any. You will not thwart me twice, oh elusive dumplings! I may have only eaten you once, but, by God, I shall have you again!

What are your most reliably delicious food-truck picks? Post them in the comments, and we'll compile a reader-suggested list of favorites.

7Nov/101

First Friday 11/5: Slammin' Sliders, Che Truck and More

Yesterday at First Friday on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, I checked out several trucks I'd never tried before. My first course came from Slammin' Sliders, and my second from Cafe con Leche. Third in my belly was Chef Che's Argentine Cuisine. I then went back to one of my favorites, the KO Taco Truck, for a special pork sisig taco. Coming in last, but definitely not least, was New York Ice Connection.

Parking on Abbot Kinney gets crazy on First Friday. We were psyched to snag a spot right on the boulevard at Westminster Avenue. Across the street, we spotted Slammin' Sliders, and made a beeline for the truck. We got the Kobe beef sliders with cheddar ($6 for two). They were simple, no-frills burgers with nothing but cheese on King's Hawaiian sweet buns, and they were perfect. They're some of the best food-truck sliders I've tasted. We also ordered an orzo pasta opal basil salad - $1 got us a generous serving. This was a damn good pasta salad. The orzo was accompanied by tiny cubes of tomato and cucumber, as well as onion, and I tasted just the faintest hint of the opal basil (a darker-leaved variety of the herb) in the creamy pink mayonnaise dressing.

Kobe beef sliders and orzo salad at the Slammin' Sliders truck

Cafe Con Leche (sometimes also referred to by their Twitter account name, Cuban Cafe Mobile) was our next food-truck victim. We ordered from the Pastelitos (small pastries) section of the menu. Pastelitos can be sweet or savory, so we decided to choose one from column A and one from column B. On the savory side: a beef empanada (also $1.75). The pastry managed to be simultaneously thick and fluffy. The beef it enveloped was shredded, rather than ground. It came with a tiny cup of deliciously tart and spicy mayo for dipping. Nowhere was it specified that I had to restrict my dipping activities to pastry-only administration; therefore, I also dipped my fingers in the mayo several times.

On the sweet side: guayaba y queso ($1.75), a warm guava and cheese pastry that has a lot in common with a Danish. The guava and sweet cheese oozed out of the puff pastry, and I didn't feel even a little bit guilty for having dessert in the middle of my meal.

We also got one of the best cups of coffee I've had in a very, very long time. I must admit that I don't really like coffee: I know, blasphemy and heresy and all those things. This cafe con leche ($2.50), however, was mellow and sweet, with no trace of the metallic taste that so often characterizes coffee-drinking for me. Bonus: it was the perfect temperature to drink right away.

Onward we rallied, to the Che Truck, where we got El Mariachi, otherwise known as a chicken empanada ($3.50). I accidentally spilled chimichurri sauce all over it, making for a flavorful, if slightly soggy, pastry. The crust was a tad too thin for my taste: I tend to prefer it thicker and more robust. The chicken filling was also not quite to my taste: seasoning-wise, it had a lot of heat, but not much spice.

We also got an order of chimichurri fries ($2.50) - the large, flat steak fries soaked up the oil in the chimichurri, coating the fries with tiny, tasty pieces of parsley and garlic. The fries got very soggy after a while, which was OK because we were eating them immediately, but they wouldn't have lasted if we'd taken them to go.

And still onward we forged, though our bellies were getting ever fuller. My husband had heard that the KO truck was serving a pork sisig taco, named the Pacquiao in honor of Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxer who's due to fight Antonio Margarito on November 13. (KO was also offering a Margarito taco - deep fried beans and cheese.) We squeezed our way into the jam-packed Brig parking lot, where Chef Chris Goossen told us he'd read a lot about pork sisig before devising his own take on the classic Filipino dish. The pork was chopped rather than shredded, making it juicier. The KO Truck is one of my husband's and my favorite mobile eateries, and this new menu item was just as tasty as their regular fare. Which sold out first - the Pacquiao or the Margarito? On this particular night, according to a tweet from the KO truck, Pacquiao took the title, but it was an extremely close fight.

I can't truly feel like my meal is finished until I have dessert (even if eating that guava pastry means I technically already had it), so our last stop was New York Ice Connection, where we got two Italian ices - one lemon and one chocolate. They have two sizes: "Skinny" ($3) and "Fatsy" ($4), or two Skinnies for $5, which is what we got. The ices sent our son into paroxysms of giggling insanity every time he took bites. If I wasn't an adult, and therefore required to maintain some semblance of propriety in public, I would have been cackling hysterically right along with him - these ices are that good. I was surprised that a chocolate Italian ice could taste as rich as regular ice cream. Plus their slogan is "The Best Friggin' Ices in New York," which is just plain awesome.

After the ices, we staggered back along Abbot Kinney, passing the Slammin' Sliders truck again. We lamented that our stomachs were too full to accommodate any more sliders - this was our favorite new truck of the night, and there were plenty more menu items we wanted to try. We found our car and shoe-horned ourselves into it. First Friday can get a little packed, both in terms of cars and of people, but it's one of the best events for sampling multiple trucks' cuisine. And if "sample" means "stuff oneself to the gills," then sample we did.

Slammin' Sliders truck

21Oct/100

Sweet E's Bake Shop

My husband and I have an almost foolproof technique when it comes to hitting Miracle Mile food trucks during lunchtime. We show up later in the lunch service, when the lines have shortened, but the trucks haven't yet run out of food or put their doors down. Sweet E's, however, foiled our plan - they'd sold out of much of their stock by the time we made it over to their van, and we were faced with a largely empty baked-goods display. I knew then that their sweets must be "on point," as the young people say.

All smiles at Sweet E's

Sweet E's calls itself a mini bake shop, because its petite creations are "2-3 bites of pure delight." Since I'm a sweetaholic, 50 bites of pure delight is more my thing, but I know it's good to practice moderation, so instead of buying up all their remaining stock, I limited myself to a cookies-and-cream whoopie pie ($3) and a chocolate chip brownie ($1.25).

The Whoopie Pie featured cookies-and-cream icing sandwiched between two dense chocolate cakes. When icing's bad, it's really bad: before I take my first bite of anything iced, I'm always slightly wary of potential lardiness, grittiness, or tooth-piercing sugariness. I had nothing to be afraid of here; the Whoopie Pie's center had the smooth, perfectly blended consistency of ice cream. I also had no complaints cake-wise - they had a great chewy:cakey ratio, and their sweetness seemed like it'd been dialed down a notch so as not to compete with the icing.

Whoopie Pie and brownie from Sweet E's Bake Shop

If the Whoopie Pie's cakes were dense, the brownie was like an edible version of a black hole - just the way I like them. It was hard to believe there was any flour whatsoever in that thing. I couldn't hold it for more than a second without it melting all over my fingers, so, of course, I had to eat it very quickly. (I wouldn't normally have done that, you see. No, really.) In a remarkable display of self-control, I managed to save some for my son. After he'd finished it, he didn't believe me when I told him there was no more, and even demanded I show him the paper bag it had come in, just in case I was hoarding some for myself.

The next time I can make it out to the Sweet E's van, I plan to sample an assortment of the Cake Pops, chocolate-dipped mini cakes on lollipop sticks. I've been running my mouse pointer over the cake pop menu, watching the pictures of the cakes flash by, and drooling. My top three flavors to try: lemon cake dipped in white chocolate; chocolate cake dipped in peanut butter; and pumpkin spice cake dipped in white chocolate.

Sweet E's Bake Shop truck

16Oct/102

Lake Street Creamery

Lake Street Creamery truck

Ice cream + food trucks = perfection, as far as I'm concerned. My trip to Lake Street Creamery only served to strengthen this conviction. The service is exceptionally accommodating, and the (ridiculously good) ice cream comes in unique, interesting flavors.

I love the look of the truck: its powder-blue wrap and classic fonts come straight from the 50s, but its logo is hardcore gangsta. The speakers were blaring the Brian Setzer Orchestra's "Dirty Boogie" album when I visited, which added to the 50s vibe.

Lake Street Creamery menu

The kind folks at Lake Street Creamery obliged us by letting us taste a few of the ice cream flavors. Donut was awesome, but my favorites were Black Jack and California Zephyr. Both were incredibly subtle flavors that still managed to be memorable. Black Jack is licorice-flavored, but isn't so intense that it blows your head off. California Zephyr blends Tahitian vanilla, mint and Meyer lemon. I expected it to be much tarter and tangier, but there was only a hint of lemon - the perfect amount. I eventually opted for a single scoop of Holiday Chocolate ($4), which featured cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and ginger in a base of Ghirardelli chocolate. The bits of ginger gave the ice cream a nice kick, and were the ideal size - big enough to be recognizable as pieces of fresh ginger, without being giant chewy chunks.

The scoop came in an edible waffle-cone bowl that stayed crisp all the way through my leisurely devouring of the ice-cream inside it. Seriously - my husband and I were amazed at this waffle bowl's ability to keep its shape and not get in the least bit soggy. A feat of culinary engineering! It was crunchy and sweet, with a touch of molasses flavor - one of the best waffle cones (and the only waffle bowl) I've had and it's eco-friendly, too.

The Pancake Breakfast flavor had maple syrup, bacon, and big cakey slabs of flapjack, all topped off with a sprinkle of fresh-ground coffee. My only beef? The pork. The bacon flavor was just too overpowering - maybe it was the size of the pieces. I'm not generally a huge fan of bacon in my sweets, however, and judging from the very positive online reviews, this flavor's a fan favorite, so what do I know: try it, despite what I say.

Lake Street Creamery offers floats, too - mix any of the truck's sodas with any ice cream flavor, and, as the English say, Bob's your uncle. Try Donut ice cream with chocolate soda for a Chocolate Donut float. There are also a whole bunch of flavors the truck serves as daily specials. One I definitely want to try is the Don Draper: vanilla ice cream with smoke, bourbon, and caramel sauce. Another is Bananarella: banana ice cream with chunks of banana and a Nutella ribbon. I'm going to have to go back to Lake Street Creamery for a return visit very soon.

Holiday Chocolate ice cream from Lake Street Creamery

Photos by Oliver Seldman

23Sep/100

Review: Kabob n' Roll

Kabob n' Roll Truck

Kabob n' Roll is one of my standby trucks. Sometimes I venture out to hit up some trucks, but I don't see anything new that looks good. In those situations, if Kabob n' Roll is around, I'll often get lunch or dinner from there, because the food is consistently delicious. I can't quite believe I haven't yet reviewed this truck, so here goes.

Kabob n' Roll Truck

Truck owners Wa'el and Chrissy hail from Egypt, and serve authentic Mediterranean food including falafel, lamb gyros, pita and baba ganoush. They've been on the road since January 29th, when they made their public debut at The Brig. The first time I visited Kabob n' Roll was outside that very same bar, during First Friday in Venice. My two-year-old son was going through a phase where he hardly ate anything, so I was desperate to find something he'd like. I got a chicken kabob plate ($8.50), which came with grilled vegetables, basmati rice, green salad, hummus, and pita bread. I also got a complimentary side of baba ganoush. To my surprise and delight, my son practically inhaled both the kabob plate and the baba ganoush. I did the same - the chicken was juicy, and the baba ghanoush deliciously creamy and more-ish.

There was still a bit more room in my stomach, and, I hoped, also in my son's, so I ordered triple cheese rolls and a mini meat pie ($5 when you order them together). It's hard to go wrong with a crispy tube of pastry filled with cheese; likewise with any kind of meat pocket, whether it's a Brazilian pastel, a Cornish pasty or a Mediterranean meat pie. Both the rolls and the pie were outstanding appetizers, even though I had them at the end of my meal instead of the beginning. My son devoured the rolls.

kabobmenu

Since that first First Friday, I've visited Kabob n' Roll several more times. Most recently, I had the lamb gyro pita ($6) and the feta caprese ($4.50), which were both on the Specials board. I can always count on the lamb gyro to be tasty. The feta caprese was good, but needed more dressing, and perhaps a bit more of a twist to the overall dish. Yes, the feta was exceptionally good, and the tomatoes were at their absolute pinnacle of ripeness, but that wasn't quite enough, especially considering the dish's price: maybe the tomatoes and feta needed a third ingredient to tie them together in a more interesting way.

Kabob n' Roll Lamb Gyro

Kabob n' Roll makes a point of putting seats, and sometimes tables too, outside the truck. I'm not sure why more trucks don't do this, because it's fantastic to be able to sit down in a chair and eat, rather than finding a spot on the street to pop a squat. I understand that alfresco eating is part of the charm of food trucks, and I like it too, but I don't think seating spoil the atmosphere. Kabob n' Roll uses portable plastic pails that make great stools when they're turned upside down.

Also, Kabob n' Roll often stations a friendly employee outside the truck - he or she takes orders and helps customers decide what menu items are going to make their bellies happiest that particular lunchtime or dinnertime. I feel like Kabob n' Roll really cares about making sure I love their food. That atmosphere - coupled with the platefuls of deliciousness they sell - makes me want to come back again and again.

Kabob n' Roll Caprese

Next: I want to try the baklava.

Photos by Oliver Seldman

31Aug/104

Manila Machine

The Manila Machine behind Decades

When The Manila Machine tweeted that they'd be serving lunch behind Decades and DecadesTwo - a mere minute's walk from my house - I knew I'd be a fool not to head over there. The truck had been summoned to the vintage designer clothing store for a Filipino fashion meetup. We arrived at the tail end of the party - only one guy remained, as well as a photo crew from the LA Times Style section, who promised The Manila Machine's Nastassia Johnson and Marvin Gapultos that their writeup would be in the paper next week.

The Manila Machine's Nastassia and Marvin

Nastassia and Marvin are fellow food bloggers who decided they wanted to sling food as well as write about it. Nastassia writes at Let Me Eat Cake, while Marvin's blog is Burnt Lumpia. They launched The Manila Machine on June 10: it features Filipino street food. I'd been wanting to try lumpia - deep-fried Filipino egg rolls with vegetable, meat or fruit fillings - so I was especially excited that the Manila Machine had come to my neck of the woods.

Side of The Manila Machine

Sadly, they were all out of sisig and veggie lumpia by the time we showed up. We got two Original Manila Dip sliders (two for $5); two longganisa sliders (again, two for $5); one beef tapa slider ($3); an order of lumpia Shanghai ($2); and turon ($3), which wasn't on the menu, but which Nastassia advised us to order. It consisted of two dessert lumpia stuffed with jackfruit and saba banana (a type of banana native to the Philippines), and drizzled with caramel.

Turon at the Manila Machine

The lumpia Shanghai were tiny and crispy, and filled with seasoned shredded pork, carrots and spicy ginger. Shredded pork can dry out pretty easily, but these stayed nice and juicy, and had a subtle bite to them without being so spicy that they set this white girl's mouth on fire.

Lumpia Shanghai at The Manila Machine

Because of my husband's aversion to mayo, we got the beef tapa slider without its accompanying sriracha mayonnaise. We both agreed that it would have been better with the condiment. The beef was flavored with calamansi lime, a Filipino variety of the citrus fruit, and was tangy and chewy - it was delicious on its own, but a dash of something creamy and spicy would have complimented it beautifully. The pan de sal rolls -- on which all the sliders came -- were floury and drier than the average American burger bun, especially for those of us used to King's Hawaiian rolls. Because the beef, chicken, and sausage in the sliders was already sweet-tasting, pan de sal was a much better choice for these sandwiches than a sweet roll would have been.

Beef and Sausage Sliders at The Manila Machine

The longganisa slider contained sweet pork and garlic sausage (like Filipino chorizo), caramelized onions, arugula and mango jam. The sausage was tender (that's what she said), with nary a piece of gristle to be found.

Chicken Slider at The Manila Machine

The Original Manila Dip slider came with a side of adobo sauce. "Make sure you dip it," advised Nastassia as she handed us the sandwich through the truck window. It was perfect: melt-in-your-mouth stewed chicken, caramelized onions and floury bun, all dunked in a sweet-and-sour sauce. I dipped and dipped again.

I managed to hold off on eating the turon till I was done with my "real" food. The texture of the jackfruit-and-banana filling was firm and custardy. My only complaint was that the portion was a bit large - or maybe it was just that I'd miscalculated how full I'd be by the time I got to it.

At the end of our visit, food-truck aficionado extraordinaire Joni Yeung showed up to grab a slider and a cupcake, and dispensed some of her wisdom regarding mobile eateries, including how best to navigate a multitruck event (when eating tacos, forgo the tortillas, so you'll have more room in your stomach to hit up other trucks).

I plan to have the veggie lumpia next time The Manila Machine comes round my way. I'm also curious about the Filipino fruit drinks the truck has in its soda area - a calamansi lime drink sounds very refreshing. I'll have to try it in the future.

Manila Machine menu

Photos by Oliver Seldman

13Aug/101

White Rabbit and Greenz on Wheelz

Greenz On Wheelz truck

A couple of Wednesdays ago on Miracle Mile, I was pleased to spot some new trucks at 5700 Wilshire: the Yalla Truck, Hot Wing Truck, White Rabbit Filipino Fusion, and Greenz on Wheelz. Since I was with some friends, we could sample more dishes than I'd be able to stuff in my gob if I were on my own.

Greenz On Wheelz menu

First, we visited Greenz on Wheelz, which featured sandwich melts and salads. It was their first week on the road. We opted for a Greek salad ($6.50), a tuna melt ($7) and a turkey melt (also $7). Both melts had a large Ortega whole chili tucked inside the deliciously buttery home-made parmesan sourdough bread. I wasn't sure how I felt about the chili, especially because it was canned. Now that I've been visiting food trucks for a while, I'm used to a completely made-from-scratch gourmet experience, and so I guess I'm a bit spoiled. The chili added a tiny bit of heat and crunch, but its size was unwieldy, and I ended up pulling it out of the sandwich. The tuna salad and melted cheese, however, were top-notch, and the barbecue sauce on the side was something special.

Greenz On Wheelz tuna sandwich

Greenz On Wheelz turkey sandwich

The Greek salad was a textbook version, with no new twists, but the quality of the produce made it excellent. The cucumbers were especially sweet and flavorful. The Kalamata olives packed the perfect amount of salty punch.

White Rabbit Truck

Next was White Rabbit. I was under the mistaken impression that there was only one Filipino truck in town - The Manila Machine - so I was happy to see another one. We got a three-taco sampler ($6.50), with chicken adobo, beef, and two kinds of pork: tocino and sisig. Adobo, in its Filipino incarnation refers to meat stewed in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, pepper and bay leaves. Pork tocino is sometimes described as the "kimchi of pork," because it's cured for three days with saltpeter, sugar, garlic and anise wine. It's then fried until it caramelizes, giving it a sweet and sour flavor.

White Rabbit menu

The White Rabbit's menu describes pork sisig as "slowly sauteed and fried pork, mixed in a medley of onions, garlic and jalapeno." It was amazing - the meat was crispy and tasted of salt and lime. The chicken and beef were tasty, too, but the sisig was the standout. We also got a mango drink, which was disappointing: it tasted like a watered-down mango lassi. I dipped White Rabbit's fries into Greenz on Wheelz' awesome barbecue sauce - it was an instant inter-truck food romance!

White Rabbit tacos

We didn't make it to Yalla and Hot Wing Truck, because we were so full: next time.

Photos by Oliver Seldman

2Jul/103

Enter the Ninja: Yatta-! Truck

Yatta-! Truck

The Yatta-! Truck, which serves sushi with an American twist, has been on the road since June 5. I stopped by this past Friday on Miracle Mile. The menu offers several unique rolls, including the All-American, a deep-fried cheeseburger roll. It also gives you the option of building your own sushi, which you do by using the brightly colored popsicle sticks sitting in cups on the side of the truck. You pick the sticks corresponding to the ingredients you'd like in and on your roll, and then you hand them to the folks at the truck's order window. "You be the Chef!" is the Yatta-! Truck's tag line.

Yatta-! Truck Creation Station

I'm not quite confident in my ability to design my own roll without accidentally picking flavor combos that will turn out to be unexpectedly gross, so instead I chose one of the five pre-designed rolls on the menu: the Cream Cheese Explosion, a deep-fried cream cheese and spicy tuna roll. It was $3.50 for four pieces. The cream cheese and spicy tuna was a great combination - the cream cheese tempered the tuna's spice. My only complaint: deep-frying the roll cooked the tuna a little too much for my liking. I'd have preferred a greater contrast between the crunchy, hot batter on the outside and the cold, tender tuna inside the roll. I don't know if that's asking too much, culinarily speaking, but hey, if Acapulco can make deep-fried ice cream... (Yes, I'm talking about Acapulco, the Michelin 3-star restaurant that has introduced Southern California to such gustatory delights as the Mucho Macho-tizer Platter. Stop looking at me like that.)

Yatta-! Truck Menu

This truck comes complete with a ninja. Yes, a masked, sword-wielding ninja who will obligingly strike badass poses if you ask to take a picture of him. Despite his garb, he's not fierce at all; in fact, he's very sweet and friendly. We shot the shit while I waited for my order to come up, and he told me the Yatta-! Truck has two regular spots: where we were currently standing, at 5900 Wilshire Blvd; and 2nd and Santa Monica Blvd, in the city of Santa Monica. It also hits downtown and Venice fairly often. Look for its latest stops here. In addition to tasty sushi, the Yatta-! Truck gave me the opportunity to say a sentence I may never again utter in my lifetime: "Hang on; I gotta say goodbye to the ninja."

Yatta-! Ninja

Photos by Oliver Seldman