Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Foodie Crawl of 13 Trucks at TLofts Food Truck Benefit for Haiti

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti

When I got both an email from a PR rep for TLofts as well saw a posting on LA Taco about the TLofts Food Truck Benefit for Haiti where 21 food trucks would be in attendance, I knew I had to be there. Even more so, since some of the proceeds of the sales were going towards helping the victims of the Haiti Earthquake. Since I knew it was going to be pretty crowded towards the latter part of the day, I recruited 3 of my best eating buddies for an early arrival time.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti

I actually got there around 10:30 am before my friends and immediately, I felt a little overwhelmed. There wasn't a whole lot of people milling around but there was still a quiet buzz of excitement in the air. Seeing so many moveable restaurants parked in one place and not having to check their tweets to see where they were or having to chase them around all over town felt a little strange, but cool at the same time.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti

Out of the 21 there, I've only been to two of the trucks, so I was really looking forward to trying out as many as possible. For a scenario like this, it really worked out perfectly going with friends because we shared everything, which meant small bites of more items versus eating full size orders and trying less items.

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Food Truck Benefit for Haiti

Our first stop of our foodie crawl was the Grilled Cheese Truck where we shared two sandwiches. The first sandwich was the Cheese Mac Melt (macaroni and cheese with sharp cheddar, BBQ pork and caramelized onions) and the second was the Harvest Melt (roasted butternut squash, gryuere, agave and fresh thyme and balsamic reduction). That Cheese Mac Melt was outstanding. I wasn't too sure about mac and cheese in a sandwich form, but I'm a believer now. The Harvest Melt was just okay. It just didn't really work for me. I would have preferred it if the butternut had a softer texture and was sweeter. It also didn't help that there wasn't enough cheese. One thing great about both sandwiches was how nicely browned the bread was.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Grilled Cheese Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Grilled Cheese Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Grilled Cheese Truck

Done with all that cheesy goodness, we wandered off to the Flying Pig Truck for a Smoked Chicken Taco (green curry and napa slaw), a Slider (beef and pork, daikon sprouts and banana mustard) and Pork Belly Bun (pork belly, red onion escabeche and sesame cucumber). I liked the Chicken Taco, although I thought chicken was a little dry. The Slider was an absolute winner. The beef and pork mixed patty was moist and full of flavor and I liked the slight sour notes that came from the daikon sprouts and the banana mustard. As for the Pork Belly Bun, the pork belly itself was delicious and paired well with those onions; however, they were having technical difficulties with their steamer, so the bao bun was soggy and stuck to the paper tray.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Flying Pig Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Flying Pig Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Flying Pig Truck

Behind the Flying Pig Truck was the Dosa Truck which logically was our next stop. Their food is South Indian-based and we opted for the Slum Dog Dosa (Indian pesto rubbed inside dosa with paneer, fresh spinach and masa dosa potatoes). That dosa was huge and really could be a meal in itself. I liked that the crepe was light and warm in my hands when it was handed to me. Overall, I thought the filling was on the bland side. The spicing needed to be stronger or perhaps, the addition of some chili would have kicked it up a notch.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Dosa Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Dosa Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Dosa Truck

From India to Vietnam, because next on the agenda was the Nom Nom Truck for banh mi sandwiches. A couple of us heard that the Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi was the one to order and we did just that. The bread wasn't crusty enough, but I thought the chicken was juicy with the light lemony notes from its lemongrass marinade. A little sour from the daikon and a hit of heat from the japalenos also made this banh mi a pretty good sandwich to eat, although it'll never be as good as the banh mi from Cho Cu Bakery.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti:  Nom Nom Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti:  Nom Nom Truck

Back to India and this time, we visited the India Jones Truck for a Frankie and a Paratha. While the Frankie comes standard with cilantro-tamarind chutney, chopped onion and an egg, you have 6 different choices for your fourth ingredient and we went for the Paneer Cheese. There was a little bit of sweetness in the sauce, but also something peppery and even a little spicy. Overall, a good flavor combination. For the Paratha, we opted for the cauliflower filling. Unfortunately, I didn't care for the Paratha. It was described as spicy, but really wasn't and plus the filling was on the dry side. It really needed the Raita sauce to add flavor and moisture.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: India Jones Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: India Jones Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: India Jones TruckFood Truck Benefit for Haiti: India Jones Truck

It's almost as if we're travelling around the world because after India Jones, we checked out Louks to Go with its Greek menu. What surprised me about Louks was how much I liked their Honey and Feta French Fries. Feta I could see as topping for French Fries. The honey was unexpected; however, I really enjoyed that the flavors were a combination of sweet, salty and a little pungent. We also ordered their Loukomades or Louks for short. Louks are basically mini donut balls and we chose a nutella topping. The louks were wonderfully light, crispy and non-greasy. What we ordered were definitely main courses, but they were so good, it left me wondering what the rest of their menu would be like. Louks to Go is definitely a food truck I want to get to know better.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Louks to Go Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Louks to Go Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Louks to Go Truck

Across from Louks to Go was the Kabob Express Truck, which features what they refer to as Mex-terranean Cuisine. We kept it simple and ordered their Chicken Kabob Plate. I don't know what they were thinking about in regards to the chicken itself. They were the size of golf balls plus the meat was really dry, which doesn't say much if you call yourself a Kabob Truck and the kabob meat isn't very good. I'm not that anxious to pay this particular food truck a repeat visit just based on that one item.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Kabob Express Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Kabob Express Truck

Next up was the Asian Soul Kitchen Truck where we tried a couple of items. Their Yakisoba-Japanese Noodle Dish wasn't very exciting. The only flavor really came from the pickled ginger. We also ordered their Spicy Macaroni and Cheese. It was definitely spicy, which I liked, but it wasn't cheesy enough. In fact, it was almost like it was coated with mayonnaise? Although I wasn't too impressed with either of these dishes, their overall menu looked interesting enough that I'd be willing to give them another try.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Asian Soul Kitchen Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Asian Soul Kitchen Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Asian Soul Kitchen Truck

Across the street was the Bool BBQ Truck and that was our next stop. Like Kogi and Calbi BBQ, they're known for their Korean-Mexican fusion food, so we ordered a Beef Taco and a Pork Taco. Unfortunately, I didn't care much for either of them. Both meats were a little too chewy. Also, the beef really had no flavor and the sauce for the pork taco tasted very one note.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Bool BBQ Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Bool BBQ Truck

Viva Italy because now it's time to visit the Vesuvio Food Truck to try their Arancini (Italian Rice Balls) made up of white rice mixed with Italian salami, Parmesan cheese, egg and flat leaf parsley stuffed with a smoked mozzarella core and then deep fried. What a lovely appetizer. Light, airy, crispy and deep-fried without being greasy. I'd definitely order this again.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Vesuvio Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Vesuvio Truck

3 more trucks to go and next up was the Buttermilk Truck for Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Bites with Cream Cheese. I've been hearing raves about these pancakes for awhile now and they definitely are worth all the kudos. Light in texture and not too sweet, I wouldn't mnd having a larger stack of these for breakfast or anytime.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Buttermilk Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Buttermilk Truck

To end this food truck safari, we hit two dessert trucks. First was the Sweets Truck. The Sweets Truck is different in that they don't make their own desserts. Instead, they have partnered with bakeries, professional pastry chefs, etc., to sell their products on their truck. We ordered three items which included Lemon Shooters (lemon cake with layers of frosting), Chocolate Crack and Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. The desserts were just okay, but one thing that did stand out, but not in a good way was the lemon dessert. It simply did not taste lemony.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti:  Sweets Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti:  Sweets Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti:  Sweet Desserts Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti:  Sweet Desserts Truck

Last, but not least, the Get Shaved Truck was the finale of this 13 Food Trucks Crawl and what a wonderful way to end it. The Root Beer Dream (root beer shaved ice, vanilla ice cream and sweet cream topping) was perfect. I also have to give kudos to the actual shaved ice itself, which had a wonderful silky texture to it. It was like eating fresh snow.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Get Shaved Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Get Shaved Truck
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti: Get Shaved Truck

In the end, I hope that through all this eating, a nice chunk of change was raised to donate towards the Haiti Earthquake. It was generous of TLofts to help put this all together, so a big thanks is owed to them. If you'd like to lend more support, please join bloggers, Mattatouille, Gourmet Pigs and Rum Dood for the February 6th Haitian Libations Charity Event at the Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena, where they developed a special cocktail menu and will be mixing and pouring them behind the bar. 50% of proceeds will be going towards the Haiti Earthquake Relief.

When it comes to the actual event, it was definitely a lot of fun. Usually, if you want to dine at any of these trucks, you literally do have to chase them around town. It was a nice change of pace for so many of them to be so accessible and all at the same time. Also, with 5000+ participants, $7000 was raised for Haiti Earthquake Relief. The whole experience has definitely whet my whistle for the LA Street Food Festival scheduled for February 13th. More details like the location will hopefully soon follow. Until then, here are some other final photos of Saturday's Food Truck Benefit.

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti
Food Truck Benefit for Haiti

One funny thing to note is that as I was going home from this Food Truck Benefit, I actually trailed the Border Grill Truck on the 10 freeway for quite a while. There was just no escaping them. :)

Food Truck Benefit for Haiti

Read more blog postings about this event below from:

Daniel Eats
Journey of an Epicurean Cutie
Laist

Check below for all the Food Trucks in Attendance:

Asian Soul Kitchen
Twitter: @ItsBentoBaby

Barbie's Q
Twitter: @BarbiesQ

Bool BBQ
Twitter: @boolbbq

Buttermilk Truck
Twitter: @grlldcheesetruk

Calbi BBQ
Twitter: @CalbiBBQ

Dainty Cakes LA
Twitter: @daintycakesla

Del's Frozen Lemonade
Twitter: @DelsLemonade

Don Chow Tacos
Twitter: @Donchowtacos

Dosa Truck
Twitter: @dosatruck

Eat Phamish
Twitter @eatphamish

Fishlips Sushi
Twitter: @Fishlips_Sushi

Flying Pig
Twitter: @flyingpigtruck

Get Shaved
Twitter: @getshaved

Grilled Cheese Truck
Twitter: @GrlldCheeseTruk

India Jones
Twitter: @IndiaJonesCT

King Kone
Twitter: @kingkonela

LA FuXion
Twitter: @La_FuXion

Louks to Go
Twitter: @loukstogo

Nom Nom
Twitter: @Nomnomtruck

Slice Truck
Twitter: @slicetruck

South Philly Experience
Twitter: @SouthPhillyExp

Sweets Truck
Twitter: @theSweetsTruck

Vesuvio
Twitter: @VesuvioLA

Willoughby Road
Twitter: @willoughbyroad

Yum Yum Bowls
Twitter: @yumyumbowls




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14 comments:

Lady Ducayne said...

What a great recap Abby! I need to start getting out the new trucks! Vesuvio and Buttermilk are definitely on my radar! And those Flying Pig sliders are my fav!

Pandalicious said...

wow! you tried a lot of food trucks! i only got to try buttermilk and nom nom. the line at buttermilk was 1 hr long..

nom nom was ok. i heard that they donated 100% of proceeds to Haiti, so yay!

pleasurepalate said...

LD: Thanks, it was definitely a lot of fun and a great way to check out trucks I've never visited before.

Pandalicious: It helps to go with friends because we were able to share a lot of the food. :)

lredmond said...

As the PR rep who pitched you to come, thank you for such a wonderful telling of the event! In the end, we had 26 trucks participate. Your plan to get there early was indeed smart as more and more came as the day progressed.

The tally of the amount raised is still being added up, but I will definitely let you know the end result.

pleasurepalate said...

lredmond: I can't seem to find your original email. Can you send me the complete list of the trucks and I'll be happy to edit my post to include them.

weezermonkey said...

I love this post! What a fantastic summary of so many trucks! I know I'll be referring back to this for sure. :)

Kung Food Panda said...

AWESOME roundup and recap Abby!! It's a great cause and of all the food, I'd love to give GetShaved truck a try :)

food, je t'aime said...

Wow I can't believe you guys ate through all of those trucks! I've had food from quite a few food trucks but I'm rarely really impressed with the food. I really want to try those pancakes from the Buttermilk truck though!

Andi? said...

Wish I'd known about this. I've been wanting to try all of these trucks at one time or another!

John said...

This was such a great idea. Any idea if there are more event like this?

AlexiaHaidos said...

Super recap! This post is one amazing resource. Well done Abby.

pleasurepalate said...

WM: Thank you so much! I'm glad that my post is going to be a good resource for you. :)

KFP: Those shaved ice desserts from Get Shaved were so good. It's a truck worth checking out.

food, je t'aime: I think you'll like those red velvet pancakes a lot. That was one of the standouts of the day for me.

Andi? and John: There's going to be a LA Street Food Festival coming up in February, so some of those trucks may show up again.

Bianca @southbay rants n raves said...

I really wish I coulda made it out to this. What a great cause! I'll be going to the foodie truck fest as I like to call it on Feb 13!

pleasurepalate said...

Bianca: Yes, it was a lot of fun, but I'm sure the LA Street Festival will also be a blast. See you there! :)