Just back from a quick trip down to LA last week. One of the highlights of the trip was a tasting menu from The Manila Machine.
The Manila Machine is LA's first Filipino food truck, run by one of our favourite bloggers, Marvin of Burnt Lumpia. They have been receiving great press from the local media and we couldn't be happier for Marvin.
Here's The Manila Machine story from Marvin's own mouth:
website: The Manila Machine
I must say, I love the name The Manila Machine! It's catchy, and for me, has a very Filipino flavor (probably because it reminds me of Burger Machine in the Philippines).
Although we were short of time, we knew we couldn't leave LA without sampling their food.
We looked at the truck's schedule, tried to find where they were going to be parking, mapped it out -- and it seemed like our schedule put us on divergent paths, nowhere near Manila Machine.
Thankfully, quite serendipitously, we found out that there was a tasting event organized by Abby of The Pleasure Palate for Saturday, the day we leave, at 1pm. Since our plane for Vancouver doesn't leave until 6 in the evening, we figured we could swing by the tasting that day.
Given that we were already eating more than our body weight the past three days, we opted to share one person's portion between the two of us. It was more than enough food, though, as there were 9 courses/items on the tasting menu, including two desserts.
When we parked our rental car, we saw Nastassia bringing out a tray of calamansi juice. We were just in time!
For those who have never had had calamansi, it is quite different from lemons or limes. Its fragrance is intoxicating! I thought it was quite a nice touch bringing us the juice, seeing as it was a gajillion degrees out.
By the way, Nastassia is the other half (co-owner, that is) of The Manila Machine, and also a food blogger! (Nastassia's blog: Let Me Eat Cake)
There she is taking a picture of the attendees taking pictures of her and Marvin. =)
OK, enough chit-chat. On to the food!
Tapsilog (Tapa + Sinangag + Itlog)
First up was a breakfast item, tapsilog. Tapsilog is beef tapa with sinangag (garlic fried rice) and fried egg (itlog).
The -silog plate is infinitely variable. The Manila Machine also serves spamsilog and longsilog during their breakfast services.
(Here's our version of longsilog: longganisa + sinangag + itlog.)
The beef tapa here was nicely done, well-flavoured and tender. If you're used to the traditional tapa, which is usually pounded very thin and dry-ish, Marvin's version would be a pleasant surprise. I can take my tapa both ways, so I'm all good.
The only thing missing for me was some chili-infused vinegar to enjoy with the tapa and the egg.
Chicken Adobo & Lumpiang Shanghai
We got our second and third courses in one plate, the lumpiang shanghai and the chicken adobo. Marvin has mentioned that the most comments he receives are for the adobo and people have varying opinions about how chicken adobo should taste. The Manila Machine version is his take on the chicken adobo.
The lumpiang shanghai was good, very nicely rolled, nicely fried (not greasy at all) and filled with pork-y goodness. Marvin sure does know how to roll 'em.
The next item we got was the longganisa slider.
The pan de sal (bread) was slightly sweet and squishy, which is how a slider bun should be. The longganisa (a type of sausage) was sweet and garlicky. This was topped with some arugula. There was also a slather of mango jam, which made the whole thing slightly too sweet for me. I could have used more garlic somewhere. They do have Sriracha available for use, so I probably will put a dollop of Sriracha next time I have the longganisa slider.
I really like the pan de sal they use. Unlike others I've seen, this had a yellow tint. It reminded me of the buns from Shake Shack.
Magnolia Ice Milk Bar
We also got Magnolia Popsicles! I grabbed the mango flavour -- and man oh man, I had forgotten how good Philippine mangoes are and how different they taste from the mangoes available here. Le sigh.
I think the forgetting was a defense mechanism, since we could never get the same mangoes here.
Yeah! We're just stuck here with stores peddling those Hayden and/or Ataulfo mangoes.
Sisig on rice was the next item.
While sisig is traditionally made using the meat from the pig's head/face, including (or especially!) the ears, snout, and any other meat there, Marvin uses only pork cheeks.
When questioned, he did say he prefers the entire pork face for the varying textures and flavours -- however, the question is whether or not most people would accept pork face or pork ear sisig.
Sisig is also usually in smaller pieces, much like Marvin's own version on Burnt Lumpia. But then again, really small pieces of meat may be more "unusual-looking" to most people, and may be harder to eat for people who use forks and not spoons!
Place settings in the Philippines and Southeast Asia include a flat plate and a spoon and fork. The fork helps push the food onto the spoon, and the spoon is what makes it into the mouth. This is very efficient for rice-based meals. No rice grains falling through the tines of the fork!)
What sells is what sells: what people want is what people want. No use fighting it, so pork cheek sisig is it for now. Like the previous beef tapa, this was nicely seasoned and goes great with rice.
Another slider they serve is the Spam and egg pan de sal slider.
Very good, albeit a tad messy, with the delicious oozy yolk dribbling down your arm. They serve this with banana ketchup, so there's that whole sweet-salty thing going on that's just irresistible.
Look how unassuming it looks at first glance. But take a bite, and there's an explosion of color... and even more yolk-ooze than ever!
An aside: Like a lot of kids in the Philippines, we grew up on Spam -- but detractors of Spam, please pan-fry the Spam first! Of course, Spam will be gross if you just eat it straight from the can with all those jellied "juices." I usually like my Spam pan-fried until I get a nice crust on the outside.
A little Spam goes a long way, so I found there was too much Spam per bite. I would've liked a thinner slice, but of course, I think most people would protest if presented with a smaller piece of meat.
Fried Wings with Spicy Adobo Glaze
Our surprise item was fried spicy adobo chicken wings. I liked this as the adobo sauce was reduced to create quite a yummy sauce for the chicken. The wing itself was not greasy and there was no batter.
A sampling of the items on the menu. For the full menu, visit their website.
Turon (Fried Banana "Spring Roll")
Our first dessert item was turon. The turon was big! Inside was a mixture of banana and jackfruit and it was served with a drizzle of caramel sauce. The turon was perfectly rolled, very tight, very professional. The turon was delicious.
I'm a sucker for turon. And really, wow, Marvin is an expert roller of lumpia wrappers! They're so prettily-wrapped. =D
The ube cupcake was quite conveniently packed in a to-go container. It's as if they read our minds! So, we took our cupcake and drove straight to the airport.
Well, not straight to the airport. JS and I stopped at the In-N-Out near the airport and bought a couple of cheeseburgers to take with us on the plane.
The ube cupcake didn't last until the flight. We each ate our halves while waiting to board. Quite yummy too. This whole cupcake thing is starting to grow on me.
More press! Marvin and Nastassia being interviewed during the tasting.
It was great meeting Marvin after following his blog for all this time. And it was great meeting Nastassia. Apparently, she had just visited Vancouver a few months ago!
Understandably, they're very busy with the new venture; it is like a newborn baby needing constant attention. It looks like they're off to a great start and we wish them all the best.
We will definitely head over to the Machine should we be in LA.
The Manila Machine
Los Angeles, CA
Visited in July 2010
eatingclub vancouver in Los Angeles
The Manila Machine Food Truck