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Pulled pork in downtown L.A.*

January 7, 2009 |  3:24 pm

Pulleys1 While looking for an elusive falafel purveyor near 5th and Main Street yesterday at lunch, I stumbled upon pulled pork sandwiches being sold from a cart tucked into a doorway of the Crocker Bank Building (home to the upcoming Crocker Club). Blink and you'll miss it, but Pulley's is worth a stop.

Touting "world famous" pulled pork sandwiches, the cart is a one-man operation that is both staffed and marketed by Charles "Captain Chuckie" Hsieh. It had just opened that day, and I was one of the first customers.

Hsieh, 28, who emigrated from Taiwan at age 7 and grew up in San Marino, developed a love for pulled pork while stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The former army medic who served for a year with the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan says, "They had these pulled pork sandwiches down there. You would find them at drive-throughs and it was so convenient. When I came back, I was looking for them here, but they were only available at sit-down restaurants and they cost $9, so I decided to make them in my own style."

Pulleys3 His "own style" is sweet, soft, mildly spiced pulled pork spread on small, White Castle-size Hawaiian rolls and topped with fairly standard coleslaw. One for $2 or three for $5. He cooks them every morning in Pasadena, then heads to downtown L.A. to sell his wares. The scary thing is how easy it is to eat half a dozen of them without noticing.

Pop by the cart or phone in your order for pickup any time during Pulley's test run in the month of January. If all goes well, Hsieh hopes to open a Pulley's storefront somewhere downtown after that. Hsieh may also be involved in some capacity with the opening of Café 9, appropriately named since it'll be on the ninth floor of the Crocker Bank Building.

Pulley's: 209 5th St. between Broadway* and Spring, L.A. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon.-Fri. Open later on Artwalk nights. (310) 508-1548

-- Elina Shatkin

Photos: Charles Hsieh