You know the Flying Pig truck — it's the one, run by a Cordon Bleu chef, with the pork-belly buns, the duck tacos with mandarin oranges, the sliders with banana mustard and the peanut-butter carnitas. It's pink; it's cross-cultural; the lines are long. It's also the truck, as our Elina Shatkin has documented, that infamously served as the set for a porn flick not long ago, but they can't all be staged in Pauly Shore's living room. They sterilize those trucks very carefully.
Now comes the Flying Pig Café, a brick-and-mortar expansion of the truck in Little Tokyo, and while you have to drive to it instead of the other way around, it's smoked mango and usually easier to grab a pork-belly bun or three, you can sit down at a table, and you don't have to bring your own beer. The cooking is slightly more ambitious than at the truck — duck-fat fried rice, pork-belly kakuni, fries dusted with the spicy Japanese spice mixture togarashi at lunch, and fusiony things like scallops with smoked mango, stewed oxtail and duck-confit macaroni at dinner — although there would probably be rebellion if they stopped serving the carne asada tacos. If you order a day in advance, you can even get a whole, roasted pork butt big enough to feed six, although served with mango shrimp instead of the bo ssam trimmings served with the dish at Flying Pig's New York City inspiration, Momofuku.
A year ago, food trucks seemed as if they were becoming the ultimate in entry-level capitalism; the obvious starting point for new restaurants richer in ideas than in cash. If this is the case, Flying Pig Café is one of the first to breach that divide.