- Matthew Schniper
- Tangy chicken skewers get an assist from lumpia and noodles.
When an eatery runs out of food during service hours, one of two things is occurring: 1) someone sucks at inventory and setting pars, or 2) someone’s getting mobbed beyond capacity and that tends to indicate their product’s good — or great.
In the case of the Filipino Food Truck, the latter’s definitely the reason why you’ll commonly see posts on their Facebook page saying something like “out of food for the day, heading home” and detailing how many lumpia (spring rolls) they’ve burned through. Upwards of 500 isn’t unusual, at either the 719 Hump Day Rally on North Academy Boulevard or the truck’s regular weekend parking spot at 4305 E. Platte Ave., near Walgreens.
Chef/owner Lorry Martinez believes she and her co-chef/boyfriend Adan Garcia are enjoying such a strong following for several reasons, beyond their obvious hard work (he steps out of the truck a couple times to check on us while we eat at the card table set up outside their order window, a sweat-soaked bandana on his forehead testifying to his grill oversight). Firstly, they’ve been around longer — about 20 months — compared to the two other Filipino food trucks we’ve spied at the rally, RJ Foodies and Kusina Caviteña — neither of which scream “Filipino food!” through their name alone, points out Martinez. Second: Winning first place (judges’ choice) out of 32 trucks at the May 5 Food Truck Cook-Off at the Broadmoor World Arena speaks volumes about their food quality. Lastly, Martinez says she’s made her otherwise traditional menu American-palate-friendly by leaving out challenging ingredients like intestines, snout, tail meat, etc., even though they’re popular back home where she lived until coming here in 2012.
An example of a dish she’s toned down: her grilled pork sisig, with which they won the Cook-Off. It’s the go-for item (usually at the Platte spot only) and a total mouth hammer of salty pungency and soft pork-belly goodness. They marinate the meat overnight with soy, garlic, salt and pepper, and post-grill season it again with a mix of bell peppers, onions, ginger, soy, lemon juice and whole lemon. It’s served under a sunny-side-up egg, for extra richness, with steamed rice. Overall it feels like a long hug from a good friend, piquing the senses.
We try a different pork belly dish at the Hump Day Rally, which starts with the same preparation but doesn’t get the finish saucing, so it simply presents fatty little charred cubes of goodness — totally fine but not as memorable. Next we savor chewy, tangy chicken skewers glazed in a sweet ketchup with pops of garlic; we dip them in a white vinegar ramekin with some floating cucumber and onion bits. And Adan brings us Sriracha for a spicy option. They’re pleasing, but the food truck’s traditional chicken adobo makes more impact, with the classic soy-vinegar (salty, acidic) punch plus notes of ginger, garlic and black pepper for a mild bite.
And, because bird’s the word, poultry again appears with the chicken pancit plate, which presents oily, gossamer, soy- and onion-seasoned rice noodles tangled with some chicken hunks and, on our plate, not quite enough cabbage and carrot for countering crunch and freshness (though Adan appears to give us more on the side). A squeeze of lime goes a long way as does a Mae Ploy-like, house sweet chile vinegar sauce.
As for those lumpia? Yeah, both the ground beef and pork options crunch delightfully, picking up that sweet chile dip well. Given enough time, I’d happily go through 500 or so.