Find LA Food Trucks Blog Blogging LA's twittering food truck scene

29Mar/101

New Truck Watch: 3/27

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Just Rolled Out

Nana Queen's Puddin' and Wings, out and about for only the 12th time today, does a mean butterscotch banana pudding. I know; I ate it on Friday.

Canter's Deli hit the streets with its new food truck on March 19.

Chef Brian's Comfort Truck (whose wares I am sampling as I write this post!) marks its eighth day on the road today.

Cart for a Cause is a food truck helmed by a different celebrity chef each Tuesday. Each meal combo costs $10, and proceeds benefit St. Vincent Meals On Wheels. It took its maiden voyage on March 23 with Nobu Matsuhisa at the burners. It hasn't yet been announced who's on the truck tomorrow: check CFAC's Twitter and Facebook pages for news as it breaks.

I mistakenly thought The Greasy Wiener was the new Canter's truck, but it turns out the Wiener stands alone. It launched on March 13.

On The Way

There's a second Dim Sum Truck on the way in one to two months, this one featuring exotic dumpling fillings.

Papa's Tapas truck doesn't have a rollout date just yet, but keep an eye on its Twitter feed for more info. I'm hoping there's some bacalao on the menu.

Derb's Gourmet's last tweet was on Jan 1, and it still shows no signs of rolling out. I shot them a tweet to see what's up. I'll let you know what I find out.

Louks was going to have a second truck by now, but its original one crapped out, so now its new second truck has become its first and only truck. It's currently having another one custom-built, and will soon be a two-truck operation.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

23Mar/105

First Friday 3/5: Willoughby, Fresser's & Dim Sum

The first Friday of March fell on the 5th. My husband and I headed down to the monthly street festival on Venice's Abbot Kinney Blvd to get our food-truck fix. The Brig bar always hosts several trucks in its parking lot on First Fridays (and plenty of other days too): the Dim Sum truck had announced its intention to be there, and I was really excited to try it.

As we began the search for a parking spot, we saw the Flying Pig truck doing the same. Once we got over to the Brig, it was easy to see why the Pig was having trouble - food trucks ringed the Brig parking lot, with no room for any more to squeeze in. At 6:30 PM, half an hour after the official start of First Friday, the crowd was already beginning to pack the parking lot. If you weren't queuing, you were standing and eating, which created a problem I've seen before at multitruck gatherings: it was hard to tell where lines began, and if you stood too near a food truck for a couple of minutes, a queue would sometimes start to form behind you. The multitasking became overwhelming at times: I was eating, chatting, making sure I wasn't accidentally in line for a truck, moving out of the way for people coming to and from trucks, and attempting to corral a toddler who wouldn't eat anything except food other people had dropped on the ground.

Before its official launch on February 27, the Dim Sum Truck served goodies to the VIP area at last month's LA Street Food Fest. I hadn't tried it yet, so the truck was my first stop when I got to the Brig. I ordered bao, or baked BBQ pork buns (2 for $3). The bread was sweet, egg-glazed on top, with tangy shredded pork inside. The pork-to-bread ratio was, in mathematical terms, probably 1:2. In nomological terms? Perfect. Next I opted for the Peking duck taco. It needed a touch more hoisin sauce and a touch less fat. I like the method they use to take orders: there are paper menus with checkboxes out front of the truck, and they take your sheet of paper when you've checked what goodies you want.

Next up was Willoughby Road. Chefs Adrian Ochoa and Jeshua Garza went to high school together, then studied at the Cordon Bleu in Pasadena before paying their sous-chef dues under Ludo Lefebvre and Ming Tsai respectively. The Eagle Rock Farmers Market was where Ochoa and Garza first sold their BBQ with Asian- and African-influenced flavors; their truck has been on the road since January 11.

We got the brisket tacos ($7), which my food-hating toddler devoured. They came with cotija cheese and smoked tomato salsa. The brisket's marinated in harissa, which is Moroccan chili sauce. (My son was soon also marinated in harissa.) Our sides were creamy mac and cheese ($3), and black-eyed peas with dirty rice ($3). I am a devotee of Asian Soul Kitchen's BEP/rice combo, and I'm sorry to say that Willoughby Road's version did not quite measure up. It was already mixed, depriving me of the right to choose my own ratio of peas to rice (ratios again! I haven't done this much math since grade school). Willoughby's peas were cooked till they fell apart, whereas ASK's peas had a bit more bite to them. I prefer my peas firm. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

My husband had been chasing Fresser's for weeks; recent truck troubles meant they'd had to cancel a few scheduled stops. He got the hot pastrami sandwich ($9.25). I don't like pastrami; I tried a bite, however, and was pleasantly surprised by how juicy and lean it was. I was too stuffed to order anything of my own from Fresser's, but next time I'm going to have the pot roast sandwich ($9.25). This Yelp review makes me want to try the white chocolate coconut fudge, too.

9Mar/100

Quickfire Review: Lomo Arigato

Recently I've been hitting the food trucks hard, so hard in fact that I have a backlog of reviews to do. Rather than do up a full review of each truck, I thought I'd experiment with a quickfire review format. This is the last in a series of five mini-reviews.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Truck: Lomo Arigato

What I ordered: Lomo saltado (beef stew with french fries; $7)

Was it good?: Like Frysmith's chili fries, these fries soaked up the juices of the beef stew in which they swam, and were all the tastier for it. The beef was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the onions were plentiful (and you know I love me some onions). There was white rice on the side, but I'm not big into plain white rice: I see it as a chunk of calories I'd rather spend on something with a bit more flavor.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Overall experience: The dudes at Lomo Arigato don't go the extra mile for their customers. That's a compliment, not a criticism: read on for an explanation. See, right before my husband and I arrived at Mid-Wilshire, the parking goons had shown up and demanded the Lomo guys move their truck. We walked up a minute later to find the truck with doors down, and the chefs standing on the street talking. "We asked if we could just move the truck into a space down the street," one of the guys told us, "but they said, 'No, it has to be a mile away.'" We all agreed that this sounded dodgy, and that because the goons really had no good reason to move the trucks along, they were now just inventing random parking laws. Still, the Lomo guys weren't going to protest right now; they wanted to keep serving lunch. "We'll open back up real quick before we move, though, just for you guys," chef/owner Eric Nakata said, and he pulled up the doors and hopped back in the truck. How nice is that? We got our lomo saltado with a side of awesome customer service!

Vegetarian-friendly: You can get both the lomo saltado and the chaufa (fried rice; $7) with tofu. It's unclear whether they do the tallarin (Peruvian spaghetti; $7) with tofu as well - I'll ask, and add a note here when I know.

Vegan-friendly: The lomo with tofu is vegan; the chaufa has egg, so it's not. The tallarin is vegan if you can get tofu on it.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

8Mar/100

Quickfire Review: Frysmith

Recently I've been hitting the food trucks hard, so hard in fact that I have a backlog of reviews to do. Rather than do up a full review of each truck, I thought I'd experiment with a quickfire review format. This is the fourth in a series of five mini-reviews.

Truck: Frysmith

What I ordered: Chili cheese fries ($5)

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Was it good?: Made with beer and chocolate, the chili was some of the best I've had in a long while, on top of fries that got soggier and more starchily delicious as they soaked up their topping. Capping it off were lashings of grated cheddar cheese. I ate it with a fork, and got it all over my face, and I loved every minute of it. Plus, it didn't give me a stomachache, despite my having eaten it as my first meal of the day, and despite it being filled with fatty, greasy cholesterol-y insanity. I'd already decided it was OK by me to suffer a little for some chili cheese fries, and now I'd had all the fun without the punishment. Magical. They didn't have their famous kimchi fries ($6) the day I went, but next time I'm going to get them.

Overall experience: Brook Howell and Erik Cho, the owners and operators of Frysmith, were very friendly and welcoming. We talked about the look of the truck: they achieved that brushed-metal finish themselves, with gallons of paint stripper and a sander. Running a fry-centric truck means customizing its kitchen. Whereas most food trucks have a standard kitchen with one small deep-fryer, Frysmith has four large fryers in a row, with a big window so customers can see the action taking place. The guy who built their truck installed Plexiglas: an error, it turned out, because as soon as the fryers fired up, the window got so hot it started to warp. Real glass is going in soon, Brook says.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Vegetarian-friendly: They have vegan chili fries ($4.50), with organic tomato, mixed beans, soy chorizo and smoked paprika. You can get them with cheese...

Vegan-friendly: ...or without cheese. I know it doesn't seem like much of an option, but it's important to remember that often with these trucks, there are only a few items on their menus, so what looks like slim pickings for vegetarians/vegans actually makes up a sizable chunk of the menu.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

7Mar/100

Quickfire Review: Dogtown Dogs

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Recently I've been hitting the food trucks hard, so hard in fact that I have a backlog of reviews to do. Rather than do up a full review of each truck, I thought I'd experiment with a quickfire review format. This is the third in a series of five mini-reviews.

Truck: Dogtown Dogs

What I ordered: Trailer Trash dog (all beef, topped with chili and crumbled Fritos; $6); Dogtown Dog (all beef, with fennel slaw, dijon mustard and roasted red peppers; $5)

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Was it good?: The dog itself was very tasty. The Fritos could have been a bit more plentiful on the Trailer Trash dog, but the chili was hearty and rich. The Dogtown Dog's fennel slaw didn't do it for me. It was too thickly cut, there was slightly too much of it on the dog, and the fennel itself was a little flavorless.

Overall experience: The dude who took our order was happy to chat with us. He sounded like he had a little bit of a Boston accent, which I absolutely love. He gave us the lowdown on "snap dogs": they've got a natural sausage casing, so they have a nice snap to them when you take a bite. The problem? These dogs are expensive. Yes, they're pretty good, but to be honest, I'd like them a lot more if they cost a couple dollars less.

Vegetarian-friendly: The portabello cheese steak dog ($7) has grilled portabello mushrooms, peppers and onions. It's topped with melted cheese. You can also make any dog soy for $1 extra.

Vegan-friendly: Get a soy dog on the Dogtown Dog or California Dog ($6). You could ask for the portabello dog sans cheese. I have a message in to the Dogtown boys asking them about the vegan status of their hot dog buns, and I'll report back when I hear from them.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

6Mar/100

Quickfire Review: Komodo

Recently I've been hitting the food trucks hard, so hard in fact that I have a backlog of reviews to do. Rather than do up a full review of each truck, I thought I'd experiment with a quickfire review format. This is the second in a series of five mini-reviews.

Truck: Komodo

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

What I ordered: Meatballs with Romesco sauce ($5); fish and grapes taco ($2); asian marinated chicken taco ($2); Komodo signature taco ($3).

Was it good?: I'd read rave reviews of the fish and grapes taco. It was very good, but it didn't knock my socks off. The fish was nice and light, but I'd have liked a bit more punch to its flavor, to contrast with the acid and the sweetness of the grapes. Maybe whole grapes, rather than the halved ones in the taco, would have given a crunch to the dish. The meatballs were full of sausagey awesomeness, and got spicier the more I ate, till I was sweating slightly. The orange Romesco sauce drizzled on top of them was nutty and garlicky. My 22-month-old son Owen decided to dip his sneaker in it and then wipe it on me. The marinated chicken came with little orange segments, and the Komodo signature taco had delicious meat.

Fish & grapes taco and orange chicken taco

Overall experience: Good stuff.

Vegetarian-friendly: No main dishes are, unfortunately. Truffle fries and garlic fries are meat-free. The guacamole rolls (wonton-wrapped guacamole sprinkled with Old Bay herb seasoning; $5) are also vegetarian.

Vegan-friendly: Truffle fries are; garlic fries are topped with parmesan, so ask for no parm if you're vegan. The guacamole rolls are vegan as well as vegetarian.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

5Mar/100

Quickfire Review: The Gastrobus

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Recently I've been hitting the food trucks hard, so hard in fact that I have a backlog of reviews to do. Rather than do up a full review of each truck, I thought I'd experiment with a quickfire review format. This is the first in a series of 5 mini-reviews.

Truck: Gastrobus
What I ordered: Skirt steak sandwich with onion, tomato and chimichurri ($6); sweet potato fries with honey mustard dipping sauce ($2.50); potato soup; beet greens.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Was it good?: Hells yes. The steak was smoky and juicy. Honey mustard added a delicious tang to the mellowness of the fries, making the flavor multidimensional. I expected the soup to have a cream base, but it tasted like it was made with chicken or vegetable broth instead: it was interesting to eat a potato soup that was so light. The beet greens tasted like chard; they were very tender, and their crunchy stems were a beautiful shade of hot pink.

Overall experience: On a hot day outside MySpace, the line wasn't long at all, and the food came out fast.

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Photo by Oliver Seldman

Vegetarian-friendly: There's a veggie sandwich on the menu featuring yams, zucchini and balsamic onions ($6). Also, check their daily specials when you visit the truck.

Vegan-friendly: The veggie sandwich is good for vegans too.