The food truck business is well-known for giving would-be restaurateurs a chance to get good kitchen experience with relatively low risk. A truck is far less expensive than a brick-and-mortar building and usually does less business, allowing the chef to learn their practice with lower overhead. But the food truck relationship with the public is not a one-sided deal. Lately, Little Rock’s food truck scene has served as a means of exposing the market to new concepts and ethnic food that wouldn’t otherwise be available. Take Adobo To Go, a Filipino-themed food truck that’s been working the Little Rock area for just over a year. There are no Filipino restaurants in Little Rock, so Adobo To Go has had the responsibility of introducing the cuisine to the public.
“When you come to a foreign food, whether it’s a truck or a restaurant, you don’t always want to eat exotic,” said Ian Herrod, who owns Adobo To Go along with his wife. “Our approach is to take the Filipino ingredients and use them in a way that you’re familiar with. Filipino cuisine is good like that, because you can take food that you know and still put that unique twist on it.”
Herrod was working at Arkansas Heart Hospital running front-of-house management for the café when he met his now-wife Lorraine through a mutual friend. Lorraine was living in the Philippines, but she and Ian had an immediate connection. Less than a year later, Lorraine’s visa was approved, and the two were married in 2016. Ian had begun a new job but soon found himself the victim of layoffs. When he and Lorraine discussed their options, they decided to create a food business based on her Filipino heritage.
“This food is based on her recipes,” said Herrod. “Her degree is in restaurant and hotel management. The more I wrote and worked through our business plan, the more a food trailer made sense.”
Adobo To Go’s primary dish is based on the Filipino version of “adobo.” This is a sauce typically based in soy, vinegar, garlic and black peppercorns. “Adobo” also refers to the cooking process, which involves stewing with a salty and sour sauce. At Adobo To Go, that means chicken or pork served with an excellent garlic rice and Filipino spring rolls called lumpia. There’s nothing too daring here; you’ve had some version of this dish many times before. But it’s the adobo method that gives this plate its unique flavor.
The lumpia at Adobo To Go is quite good, especially the texture. The rice wrapper holds its crisp state regardless of how wet or fatty the filling is. In this case, the filling is a fresh-tasting mix of East Asian ingredients and aromatics. The sweet and spicy orange sauce is also quite a treat. And those rice wrappers are put to marvelous use in the highly Americanized cheesecake spring rolls. They are exactly what they sound like, served with a berry compote and a drizzle of chocolate. Herrod has a light touch when it comes to the sweetness, and it’s a perfect choice. This is easily one of the best food truck desserts I’ve had around town.
Adobo To Go will set up all around town, but its usual spot is at 1222 W Capitol Ave. for lunch on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. However, you should definitely check the truck’s Facebook page for its daily spot. Adobo To Go can also be found at most of the city’s food truck-themed events.