Tapa Boy - Orange County
It's with sadness that I review Tapa Boy. No, don't get me wrong. I loved it. It's just I had hoped to have tried Manila Machine first before it retired to do just private catering events.
You see, I've long been a fan of Manila Machine's owner and chef, Marvin Galputos (a.k.a. Burnt Lumpia), whom I regard as one of the funniest food bloggers in the country. As a reader, I witnessed his growth from an assimilated Pinoy with a "retarded appreciation of Filipino food" to a well-rounded Filipino food scholar, chef, and upcoming cookbook author, who passionately chronicled his efforts in an often hilarious blog.
Manila Machine was a culmination of his journey, and I was proud to be one of the first members of the press to report on the roll out, the first Filipino food truck in L.A. But then I was bummed when it announced it would stop prowling the streets last month after garnering much kudos from the likes of Jonathan Gold.
It leaves behind at least three other Filipino food truck to pick up the slack in LA County. One of them is this truck, Tapa Boy, which actually made the trek to Irvine and parked right where I just happened to be during my lunch hour.
Tapa Boy is a silog specialist. The Filipino answer to the American bacon and egg breakfast, "silog" is a concatenation of two words: sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (fried egg). Together they form the suffix and anchor for things like the tocilog, which features tocino, a cured pork product cut from the fattiest parts of the pig.
Tocino is a breakfast meat that glistens like no other. It beams with a ruddy color almost akin to Chinese char siu, but thanks to annatto it's even brighter, as if it's been dipped in Maraschino cherry syrup. Once its cooked, tocino takes on a candy-like sheen and wiggles in your mouth before melting like an unctuous piece of pork belly.
To beat back the richness, Tapa Boy supplies a spicy vinegar of its own making that it thickens to the consistency of bottled Italian dressing. Also there to temper and contrast: plain-diced tomato, cucumber, and achara, pickled shreds of green papaya. The latter does it best of all, pairing with the pork more naturally than sauerkraut to a hot dog.
Together, it's a breakfast that I'd gladly have for lunch, dinner, or any meal in between. The egg is cooked in a ring mold, like McDonald's does with its McMuffins, but the yolk is left runny to bleed its nectar onto the rice below. The starch then accepts. The grains moisten slightly, each forkful not sticky, not gummy, still loose and flowing like basmati. Strewn bits of golden fried shards of garlic burst from microscopic granules.
Turon, crispy egg rolls filled with sweet plantains, were dessert. I washed it down with a drink made with shredded melon suspended in a sugar-sweetened mix of water and its juices. A boba straw is supplied to suck it all up.
And I even like the truck's exterior design, which is dolled up to look like a ultra-pimped out Jeepney, the highly stylized and colorful form of public transportation that patrols the Philippines.
You can find the Tapa Boy truck in Orange County this week, before it retreats to L.A. It will appear Wednesday night, May 11, from 5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. at Irvine Lanes (3415 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA) and Friday, May 13, from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. for a fundraiser at Fullerton High School (201 East Chapman Avenue, Fullerton, CA).
So to both Manila Machine and Tapa Boy, I say, "Mabuhay!"
THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
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