By JOEL KATO
Probably my favorite thing about the food trucks at UCLA is the opportunity they provide for experiencing new cuisines. Being confined to the limits of Westwood for the majority of my time at UCLA, I’ve constantly been frustrated with the lack of variety in options when it comes to restaurants. While the selection may be adequate in trying to provide at least a couple of options for any preference, it can hardly be described as having anything remotely adventurous. This is why, when food trucks serving less accessible food come to campus, I make sure to take full advantage of them. One of the best examples of these trucks is The Manila Machine, which can be found at the Court of Sciences on Friday, Nov. 12. As the name suggests, The Manila Machine is an L.A.-based food truck that specializes in Filipino cuisine. Their menu is a mix of classic Filipino favorites and more modern interpretations of Filipino food. On my last visit to The Manila Machine, I tried all four of the Pan de Sal Sliders: The Original Manila Dip, Spam, Longganisa and Tapa. These bite-sized sliders may be small, but all deliver delightfully different flavor combinations.
The Manila Dip and Spam fall more on the salty spectrum of the sliders. The Spam is naturally saltier because of its meat, which is balanced out by the richness of the fried egg and the touch of sweetness from the banana ketchup. The Manila Dip drips with a flavor reminiscent to French onion soup, which comes from the caramelized onion and the dipping sauce, yet has an unexpected pickle-like quality from the marinade of the chicken adobo.
The Longganisa and the Tapa were more sweet options on The Manila Machine’s menu. The Tapa combined charred beef with spicy elements in a slider that reminded me of a Filipino version of Korean barbecue. The Longganisa, which was my favorite slider by far, was probably the sweetest of the four, combining a juicy, sweet pork sausage with mango jam and caramelized onions. The slider struck just the right balance between sugary delight and borderline dessert. The addition of spicy arugula played a big role in balancing out the numerous sugary elements.
While The Manila Machine’s sliders are delicious, keep in mind that they are also quite small. Having just one will, in most cases, not satisfy your midday cravings. The Manila Machine’s menu also boasts multiple other dishes, but when I visited they did not have the adequate ingredients to assemble many dishes other than their sliders and lumpia. I’m unsure of whether or not that was a special case or their typical situation for UCLA, but regardless, they will deliver some sort of tasty treats when they visit.
Until we eat again….. The Food Truck Junkie