May 28, 2014

2014 Food Truck Rants & Raves

For some people, the summer officially starts once they get there first mosquito bite, or when they spot their first inappropriate mini skirt - for me, it's when I see food trucks parked and ready to feed the masses aka me! I know technically food trucks run all year long, but no matter how badly I want a Dirty Southern Love, I will not freeze off my buns to get it! 
In the past few weeks, there have been a plethora of food truck events like Sew Hungry, Food Truck Eats at Peller Estates, Down by the Bay, & Whitby Food Truck Eats to name a few. Instead of doing a post on each event I thought it would be educational and nom nom worthy to just throw all the trucks in one post an hash it out. So consider this my rants, raves, and reviews of what's on the road this season. 
First up, West of Seoul. I had them for the first time at Sew Hungry and then again at Peller Estates. We tried the JapChae & Kimchi Fried Rice Balls at both events and the Pork & Kimchi Lettuce Wraps at Sew Hungry. 

The JapChae was way better at Sew Hungry than they were at Peller Estates. Noodles were the shinning star at Sew Hungry but I feel like we got the bottom-of-the-pot scrapings at Peller. Meh - maybe just bad luck on our part? The Kimchi balls were also a far better product at Sew Hungry as well. I found they were better seasoned the first time around and at Peller there were chunks of white rice in my ball which means they must have ran out of fried rice and tried to stretch their batch with plain rice. 
The lettuce wraps were really good - like an asian meatball dumpling hybrid. The house made hot sauce on top was pretty banging too. Very fun to eat and I loved the fresh lettuce. Some fresh kimchi would have been a fantastic addition as well. 
Over all, the flavours were good, prices were pretty decent considering portion sizes, I just wish they were consistent with the product. I know at a restaurant if you ordered a dish twice and received slightly different products both times you would not be pleased - but for some reason people seem to look the other way with trucks. That shouldn't be the case. If I'm paying for my food - I expect consistency. And that's not just with West of Seoul - I find a lot of trucks are inconsistent. 
JapChae from Sew Hungry
JapChae from Peller Food Truck Eats
Kimchi Fried Rice Balls from Peller Food Truck Eats
Choco Churros were fantastic! No quite a food "truck" but more of a trailer. We had them for the first time at Sew Hungry and I wish I would have gone full glutton and ordered 14 churros instead of the one order of seven. This is a perfect example of just focusing on doing one thing and doing it very well. They were pumpin' out hot made to order churros all day at Sew Hungry. The line up was long but it was definitely worth the wait. Props to my twinsie for the recommendation! I would have completely overlooked these guys otherwise.
Luchador - also a first for me this season, are a Mexican fusion food truck. They were voted best food truck concept at Awestruck. I had them once at Sew Hungry, and then again at Peller. 

We ordered the Ta Korean which happened to be the awestruck winning dish. The shaved ribeye filling was pretty good. Good flavours, and a healthy portion but the steamed bun was too dense for me; it didn't taste like it was house made and could have been warmer. I love the concept of the truck though and they always seem to be very adventurous with their flavour pairings! 
The Mexican spring rolls were exactly what I expected - a combo of Asian & Mexican flavours. I should have had these at my Mexibodian Feast! They were crispy, hot and very fun to eat. A great snack if you're hankerin' for something dirty and gluttonous! 
At Peller Food Truck Eats, we ordered the Thai Curry Torta and I hate to say it - but it was a big womp womp for us. The flat bread was store bought and cold & the filling didn't pack enough of a punch. Although the portion was decent, it just didn't do much for me. The chips were a hit though! 
Again - another first for me at Sew Hungry was Chef Scott. I spent most of my day at Sew Hungry trying to ignore Hamilton trucks and just going for the ones I rarely ever get a chance to eat.

We ordered the sous vide pork belly. Conceptually it sounded fantastic, but it was just missing a few things. The portion, price and slaw were on point - the pork unfortunately was just too soft and the fatty bits weren't melt in your mouth. I understand sous vide is suppose to be this amazing method of cooking but with something so fatty like pork belly - it need a crunch or another texture besides mush. A quick sear on the flat top would have elevated this dish immensely. 
My partner in crime as usual was my sister - if you don't follow her on twitter you should! She's just like me but less sass and half the size! Justin, and Van were also there to help chow down! It's best to tackle a food truck rally with friends - there are more mouths to lend a hand when you over order.
I know my rule is to usually stay away from Hamilton trucks because I can get them anytime I want at Food Truck Alley - but sometimes I just can't say no! Jonny Blonde has been a favourite of mine for a while now. To be honest, I wasn't digging them much in the beginning - the whole meat on a stick thing, blah blah blah - but I was excited to see they revamped their menu shortly after their launch and are cooking some legit things. 
For instance, Jonny makes his own flat bread and it is %#^$ phenomenal! The Peachy Blonde is hands down my favourite and the one we had at Sew Hungry was massive and fully loaded with fresh ingredients  - it was like someone threw a garden in my mouth. I do have to say, I've had this at Art Crawl before and the portion wasn't the same and they got a little chinsy with the toppings. Again .. consistency. But 99% of the time, these guys are bomb diggity! We can't all have good days right? And under $10 for a beast like that? You can't go wrong!
Buster Sea Cove is from Toronto but they'll make there way over to Hamilton/Niagara every once in a while. I've reviewed there stand at the St. Lawrence Market here. To be honest, this wasn't even my lobster roll - I stole a few bites from Amy when she spotted me stuffing my face at Sew Hungry. If you haven't had them, they're awesome - but I enjoy the St. Lawrence location over the truck.
Another Hamilton Truck I couldn't ignore was Southern Smoke. They are 1/2 of the brains behind Food Truck Alley and The Hamilton Funnel Cake Factory. They are legit bbq - no fuss just meat cooked with fire and wood. Generous portions, meat smothered in bbq sauce. Can't hate on meat in a cup dude. The asian in me just wish it came with a bowl of rice.
Can you believe this was my first roti and doubles and it came from Randy's Roti! The doubles were amazing! Even when I had them cold they were bomb diggity and I probably could have had at least three or four of them. They were filled with spicy chick peas and potatoes(?) - that's how good they were. I fricken hate chick peas but these were fantatsic! Of course I have absolutely nothing else to compare to - but for a first timer, I was totes digging this. These are made to order so be prepared to wait - but the wait is worth it, for the doubles. 
The roti I wasn't a fan of - too much dough. Sorry boo - it just wasn't my thing. It's not you, it's me. We have to see other people . 
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Dirty South Truck. If you've ever been in line with me you've overheard me sass them at the window over their pulled pork wontons. Like, why are they never on the menu?! I think me and these wontons just aren't meant to be. They were serving them at the Niagara Food and Wine Expo and before we could make it there, there was a bomb threat and the whole building evacuated- no biggie right? Someone out there obviously doesn't want me to have these wontons. Just to show you how awesome they are see exibit AB. These puppies are so bad ass I would take them on a date just so I could make sweet love to them afterwards. Did I go to far? This just got awkward didn't it? 
Well they're fricken amazing and usually when I begrudgingly find out they're not on the menu I have to get a dirty southern love just to mend my broken heart. What? A girls gottta eat. 

They [dirty southern love] are huge, they're only $9 and they're fricken delicious. Sometimes I can live without the waffle and just have the chicken with a bowl of rice. #asiangirlproblems. But this dish and the Dirty South Truck in general is exactly what a food truck is suppose to be - good food at a fair price and a good portion. Nothing on a food truck should really be over $10.  We're not fighting for Michelin stars here so leave the nouvelle cuisine at home and give me a decent portion already! 


Not quite the pulled pork wontons but these brisket wontons at Peller were pretty rockin' - pretty good roll technique boys! 

Another first for me was Caplansky's.  Everyone tells me if I want some good smoked meat I should head to their bricks and mortar place - but go for something different on the truck - so cue salami sandwich. It definitely wasn't what I expected. The price ($9) for that puppy, was too much in my opinion. A few bucks cheaper and this would have been a decent sandwich but for nearly ten dollars and all I got was a few slices of salami and some sautéed onions? Blah. But I will definitely be stopping by the restaurant for some smoked meat!
Chang Noi is a new food truck - to me at least.  While at Peller we had the Spring Fling Rolls, E-San Classic as well as the Thai Iced Tea and Coconut Chiller. 
The papaya salad was suprisingly pretty authentic - minus the stinky fish paste you usually only add if you're making it at home. The tang from the lime juice was perfect although I wish It was a little bit spicier. The chicken on the side to be honest, were just a few shaved little pieces. Seasoned well but not a good bang for your buck. 

The chiller was  a fabulous treat that paired well with the food. The lobster roll was one tiny two bite roll but the combination of "lobster" and avocado was awesome! So refreshing, cripsy and not greasy at all. Excecution was great! 



Okay, so I know I just went on and on about how nothing on a food truck should be over $10 and to leave the nouvelle cuisine out - well, take all of that and throw it out the window when it comes to El Gastro. They are ridiculously priced and the portions are tiny.  I know, I know - I am breaking all of my rules! And for what? A few bites of fricken heaven I tell you!  Just bite the bullet, pull out a twenty and  pay the nice Aussie for a plate of food okay?! You won't regret it. 
The flavours are always so unique. The combinations of spices and fresh ingredients always get my taste buds dancing. They take a bland chickpea salad and turn it into something just orgasmic. So yes they are expensive and break all of my "food truck rules" but who cares - they're so damn yummy! 
The Sok sisters are always my go to companions when we hit up food events. We go in with a strategy  and everyone has a role to play. Some of us save seats, others take care of beverage and the rest stand in line. We always make sure to pool in some cash so the cost factor is shared amongst everyone. This was us at the Peller Food Truck Eats. If you've never been, it is one of my fave food truck rallies of the summer. 

These next two trucks were reccomeneded to me by the Belly Monsteres. They raved about the poutine from Frankie Fettuccine and the Captain Crunch Tacos from Food Dudes. I have to mention, this is my first impression of both trucks.. 
I wasn't a fan of either dish! Don't hate me! I just wasn't feeling the pulled meat and the gnocchi was just too chewy. There was good heat on the fish tacos but nothing else stood out. I might be alone on that sentiment cause everyone else seemed to loved these two dishes! Including the Belly Monsters who gave me a ton of slack for hating on the poutine. 
Our last few bites come from Bestia and Tide & Vine. Of course the oysters at Tide & Vine are always freshly shucked and delicious! Can't go wrong with that. The cannoli's from Bestia were fantastic as well. Great shell and the filling was light and perfectly sweetened. 
Often times I get asked - Where do I find food trucks or hear about these events? Well first off, make sure to follow Food Trucks Eats & Ontario Food Truck to start.  

And while you're at it follow Food Truck Alley in Hamilton, as well as Down By the Bay - a new weekly food truck gathering  and follow all your favourite trucks on Twitter & Facebook - so you can stalk their every move. Don't be ashamed - they love it! 
And that's a wrap for my food truck round up. I know there are plenty of more out there that I haven't even tackled yet - but the season just began! Food trucks are not a dying art, or a fad - they're a band of hungry passionate individuals who want to earn your love by going through your stomach!



Happy Eating!



Phew! That was a long post eh? - If you're looking for more food truck loving' check out last years Sew Hungry, Peller Food Truck Eats & The Ex.

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