Gourmet food trucks are now becoming an event in the suburbs. It’s a far cry from the food trucks I used to grab a quick burger or bag a chips from as a teenager. I once saw a Kogi truck, but I was unfortunately on my way to a dinner appointment. So when it was announced that the Manila Machine was being added to the Calabasas Commons’ Street Eatz event, I started making plans to take Michael after work.
What exactly did I do to prepare? Well, I began practicing with a sling so I could carry Michael around. Michael can stand to be in his car seat/stroller for only so long, so when he gets fussy, I have to pick him up so he can look around. I’d gotten the sling way back when Michael was born, but it didn’t feel comfortable to wear Michael in it when he was three months old. Now that he’s six months old and a little sturdier, he did fine in it.
I also made sure to dress appropriately — skirt, flat-ish shoes — and bring a bottle of water. But by the end of the night, I’d only had enough time to stand in line and get food from one truck — Manila Machine, plus my feet were sunburned, I was totally sweaty, Michael went to bed super late and I ate my food at 9:15 p.m.
The verdict? It was so not worth it.
More than anything, I blame the Calabasas Commons. They heavily advertised this event featuring…food trucks. Food trucks. Let’s say that again, out loud – “food trucks.” Sure, food trucks are all the rage now, but there is still no getting over the fact that these are food trucks. It was bloody hot, the lines were freaking looooong, and at least one ambulance was called for what we (standing in line) believed was heat exhaustion. One rent-a-cop tried to get me and everyone in line behind me to reconfigure our line, but that just made us lose our places in line.
The way the trucks were placed, I’m sure, to maximize the most people between the food trucks and the existing stores. But, that didn’t allow for a whole lot of shade. I frequently kneeled next to Michael’s stroller just to get some shade, but not everyone had that option. I also had the foresight to bring my water bottle (I take a one-liter bottle of water to work with me every day) so at least I wasn’t totally dehydrated. But not everyone had thought of that. I also ended up taking my food to go, but a lot of people seemed to have trouble finding places to sit and eat.
It took at least an hour for me to simply order my food from the Manila Machine, so of course the big draw — adobo — was totally sold out. And I’d been really looking forward to trying it. It took another 30 minutes to actually get the food I could order — lumpia shanghai, beef tapa on rice, Manila slider (adobo on a slider), longganisa (sausage) slider and an ube cupcake.
Now, before I share my thoughts on the food, I have to preface it with this statement. Since I’m Filipino, and grew up with a mom who could cook the pants off most already-established Filipino restaurants and decorate a wedding to boot, I have high standards for Filipino food. Obviously, nothing is ever as good as my mom made. And, in fact, I often prefer my own cooking to what I get in Filipino restaurants.
That said, the lumpia shanghai was peppery and not as meaty as I’d like it, but it was fine. The beef tapa was dry and tough, but when you’re hungry, you’re hungry. The Manila slider was actually quite good, and I gobbled that down — I should’ve gotten two. The longganisa was not as sweet as I think it should have been. And even though I’m not exactly a huge ube fan, the cupcake was not very — ube-y.
All in all, the food was not bad. But the effort to get it? Not worth it.