32. The Manila Machine

I have been meaning to get to this truck for quite some time. I have followed co-owner, Nastassia Johnson’s blog, Let Me Eat Cake for a while, and like her style. Additionally, her truck hit the streets scant few days prior to one of my first Dinner at Eights, which lamentably resulted in Nastassia not being able to attend. I’ll get her there eventually.

Arguably the first food bloggers to man a food truck, Johnson and Marvin Gapultos (Burnt Lumpia) are serving up the City of Angels Filipino food on wheels – and, in doing so, filling a notable hole in our city’s wide range of cultural cuisines. And this, my friends, would be The Manila Machine.

So when Doug told me that they would be The Frosted Cupcakery’s Thursday truck of the week I was pretty pleased.

We sauntered on up to the window of the truck around 1pm to find the sprightly and enchanting Nastassia greeting us with a winsome smile. And but a moment later I was also introduced to the equally personable Marvin. They were both so welcoming that I kind of just wanted to hop into the truck and kick it with them for a few hours. But I was already holding up the line that was forming behind me. And so…

I asked them to lay it on me: serve me what you want me to eat. And here we go.

Pork Belly and Pineapple Adobo ($6)

This was chunks of pork belly braised in a rich, sweet and tangy sauce of vinegar, soy, and pineapples. Served over steamed jasmine rice. Although we all know my fruit drama, this type of situation is in my "happily working on it" category. I really enjoyed this dish. When I plunged my fork into the rice I was pleasantly surprised to find all of the yummy sauce which which to stir everything up. The sweet and the savory played perfectly together here and those few little scallions cut up on top actually added a lovely fresh and crisp accent.

A trio of sliders. From left to right: The Original Manila Dip, Longganisa, Tapa ($2.50 each)

The Original Manila Dip is shredded chicken adobo and caramelized onions on a pan de sal roll. Served with an adobo dipping sauce. I tasted this one last, and perhaps as a result it was the least interesting to me. It was solid, yes. It was good, yes. I love dipping sauces, yes. I found no fault with this slider, but I simply didn't find it as compelling as the two that graced my palate prior. I will say that I really loved the way the bread (which I just loved, anyway) held everything together, in addition to sopping up the dipping sauce.

The Longganisa is sweet pork and garlic sausage, caramelized onions, arugula, and mango jam on a pan de sal roll. I loved this. I loved that sausage. It was smoky and a little sweet - to me, ever so slightly reminiscent of a good chorizo, but a bit milder. And hey folks, I even like the mango jam!

The Tapa is sweet calamansi beef, achara slaw, and spicy sriracha mayo on a pan de sal roll. This was Doug's favorite. In fact, we are fortunate enough to have a Doug sound bite: "This was a dynamic combination of sweet and sour that provided an unexpected (and welcome) bite." I agree, this is also fantastic.

I think we were supposed to get Lumpia as well but we forgot. This was a good thing as both Doug and I were perfectly sated. AND now I have something new to try upon my return. And return I shall. Thanks for a great lunch, guys!

Hey! You should follow them on Twitter!


  1. The food is good but the portions they serve is a little bit on the small size. I prefer the White Rabbit truck for my filipino food.

  2. I wish the food truck craze would come up my way!

  3. Anon - I was impressed with my portions. Have yet to try the White Rabbit Truck. I'll get there, eventually.

    Thanks for reading!