It started with a bacon-wrapped hot dog from a cart and it ends with tamarind duck from a truck.
Well, dear readers, I have done it. There were moments it seemed daunting and moments it felt like a walk in the park. And so many new trucks have popped up during the span of my mission that I considered adding more to my list. But I stuck to the original plan and, now, here we are. 25 food trucks in 3 months. Done.
I have learned a lot about this new culture throughout the journey. I have made new friends, traveled to parts of town I don’t often visit, and eaten a lot of food. While I am, admittedly, glad it’s over, I will continue to check out – and maybe write about – the new trucks that I am curious about. All at my own pace, of course.
I have been intrigued by the concept of the Flying Pig Truck for a while. They rolled out in early October but have maintained a somewhat low profile in the Twittersphere (which I really appreciate, actually). They also seem to stay downtown or on the West side almost entirely. Until this past Tuesday, that is.
I had come up with a plan, a few weeks ago, to make my 25th truck one of the original, real deal, taco trucks. It seemed appropriate and reverent. So when I saw the Flying Pig Truck on Miracle Mile I figured I’d check it out but probably not write about it. Until I ate the food – which I will say right now, was spectacular.
The Flying Pig Truck is run by two chefs who recently graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts and the Cordon Bleu program in Pasadena. Flying Pig markets itself as high-end street food with "Asian and Pacific Rim flavors with French technique”. Interestingly, one of the owners, Joe Kim, says that he came up with the idea not just to capitalize on the recent food truck trend, but rather to use the truck as a testing ground for the restaurant he'll be opening up early next year. I, for one, am eagerly anticipate those doors opening.
I arrived at the truck on the later side of lunch time, and got a parking spot directly behind it (you can even see a bit of my trash-heap of a car in the pictures!). There was little to no line and after perusing the beautiful, and synoptic, menu, I was confident of my order. I still asked if there were any specials or recommends, but the perky woman taking my order said I was spot on in my choices. I had the braised pork belly bun served with red onion, escabeche, sesame-cucumber ($3), the tamarind duck taco served with toasted almond and a pickled beet salad ($2.50), and the crab balls served with a cilantro-lime chimichurri ($2). I handed the woman $9 and, rather than fishing around for the 75 cents, she handed me a buck back. That went directly into the tip jar, of course.
There were one or two orders ahead of mine, and it was seeming like it was taking a while. But then I peered in the truck and could see the care being put into “plating”. This eased the wait tremendously. Even when one of the chefs handed me the container of food (Styrofoam. Bummer.) she was wiping off a little smudge of sauce on its exterior. I do love attention to detail.
I ambled on over to a spot in the sunshine, opened the lid, and looked down at some of the most beautifully presented food truck fare I have seen to date. I was seriously dazzled. I began with the one I was the most excited about – the pork belly. I mean, pork belly from a truck?! Hello? Awesome? And this was. The bun was bao-like and subtly sweet, which was a perfect compliment to the belly. The escabeche, and cucumber added the perfect piquancy and brought lightness to the pork. I found it to be an entirely inspired take on the traditional bao.
Next I chomped down on a crab ball. It was very delicately fried and had an ephemeral quality to it. The cilantro-lime chimichurri was the perfect accompaniment. I ate about half of the crab balls before diving into the tamarind duck taco. This, folks, was sublime. The actual duck was cooked perfectly, tender and moist. The complexity and layers of the flavors was like a festival in my mouth. The marriage of the textures: the mandarin and the toasted almonds, was nothing short of brilliant. I actually tried to eat it as slowly as possible to make it last as long as I could, and made a point to pick up each errant scrap of ingredients to savor all of the elements happening. I even enjoyed sucking the parts stuck in my teeth, afterward. I might add that this food also, very successfully, achieved a true, and innovative, fusion of cuisines.
I then, happily finished up the crab balls and promptly marched back over to the truck to tell the chef that this was, simply, spectacular.
You know when your eating potato chips or peanuts and every once in a while you get that perfectly curled chip, or the yummiest, roastiest peanut, and you know you should stop right there and end the binge with that perfect bite? Well, I knew while I was eating my Asian-French lunch from a truck that this was the way to go out. The fat lady has sung and pigs really can fly.