White Rabbit Cafe originally began as a food truck before opening a brick and mortar location in 2010, Canoga Park, Calif. The location is not much bigger than a food truck and from the small kitchen hidden from view the cafe serves its take on Filipino fusion combining ingredients of Filipino cuisine and presenting them in versions of familiar Mexican dishes such as burritos, tacos, and quesadillas in an attempt to create something buzz-worthy in the San Fernando Valley. Attempt is the key word here however as White Rabbit tries to infuse Filipino tastes in classic Mexican dishes creating something new and creative but ultimately lacking the special quality that has made each style of cooking what they are today.
Take one step into the café and you instantly see all there is. The white and orange coloring logo echoes around the small space that only seats 16 at full capacity. A television screen displays footage of the original White Rabbit food truck in action serving people and interviewing patrons while their audio was incredibly too low to hear any dialogue. Above the counter where you order the menu consists of mostly Mexican dishes such as burritos, tacos, and quesadillas in which it gives the initial impression that there is a very little Filipino influences in there dishes. One of there side dishes includes six thumb sized lumpias, a kind of egg roll, that is the about the only recognizable Filipino dish. The little lumpias were adequate enough but perhaps only just better than store bought counterparts, at only $2.50 per order it’s hard to beat that price.
The base of each and every dish is the meat of your choice which ranges from Pork Sisig and way of preparing pork by marinating it in lemon and salt. The term Sisig means “to snack on something sour.” There is a vegetarian option consisting of a soy based pepper steak that is cooked in a wok. Other options include chicken adobo, a technique of immersing the meat in a seasoned stock, and other sweet beef and pork. You choose your meat and then decide on a main course to add the meat to.
The chicken adobo wrapped in a burrito was accompanied by garlic fried rice, swiss cheese, and a fried egg and was an odd medley of confusion as the ingredients fought each other rather than complimented one another. The chicken adobo was the most dominate flavor and while it was tender and juicy having this particular sweetness in a burrito created a sort of dissonance of taste.
The sweet taste was even more prevalent in the beefsteak tacos which at a glance might appear just as any tacos Angelinos have grown accustomed to from the many trucks around town. Cabbage took the place of the filler and again the taste meshed into one basic flavor with the only hint of the beefsteak along with the sweetness that registered through the cabbage.
Milk teas, and bobas are also offered as well desserts along with what is their signature white chocolate champorado, a sweet white chocolate rice pudding dresert with wafers and strawberries. The sweetness wasn’t out of place but tasted a bit heavy handed for those who aren’t amped up to have a sweet tooth.
White Rabbit takes Filipino seasonings and flavors and uses them in place of traditional Mexican ingredients to create a unique culinary experiment that may be trying to be too clever. Fusion is a bold and exciting prospect but it seems to have gotten carried away creating an experience just as awkward as the food.