Thursday, March 11, 2010
We all knew it had to happen sometime. With the proliferation of food trucks popping up left and right and having some pretty darn good dim sum restaurants in San Gabriel Valley, it was only a matter of time that those two thing would combine to form the Dim Sum Food Truck, owned and operated by Alex Chu. In February, I was part of a group of bloggers and other food truck owners who got invited to sample some of the tasty offerings from Alex's new venture.
We started off with their Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) and Shau Mai. Those shrimp dumplings were a fairly substantial size. They weren't kidding around. These har gow put a smile on my face as soon as I took a bite of that sweet shrimp. Sitting next to the har gow in the tray was the shau mai. The shau mai's wonton wrapper was filled to capacity with seasoned ground pork, chopped shrimp, water chestnuts and delicately topped with crab roe and it was simply meaty goodness. What totally blew me away was the garlic sauce that came with the har gow and shau mai. Made with granulated garlic, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce and other secret ingredients, if I could have taken a jar (or three) home with me, I would have.
Up next were their BBQ Pork Bun and their Steamed Chicken and Mushroom Bun. Unfortunately, I wasn't overly impressed with the BBQ Pork Bun. The bun itself was a little bland, a little too dry and it felt like there was more bread than filling. As for the bbq pork, it was also a little on the bland side. It needed more flavor, more zing. However, I adored the Steamed Chicken and Mushroom Bun. The filling was moist and the use of ginger as one of the ingredients really made my taste buds happy.
My favorite dish of this sampling was their Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf. When I opened the leaf up, it released an enticing fragrance and I loved the ingredients which included pork, Chinese sausage, shrimp and mushrooms. You got a little salty, a little sweet, a little woodsy in every bite.
The last thing I tried was their Turnip Cake. I enjoyed how the top of it was crisped and the little hits of salt and pungency from the small dried shrimp that were spread throughout the cake. Unfortunately, I had to miss dessert because I had plans later on in the day, but overall, I think the Dim Sum truck is a great addition to the LA Food Truck Scene.
Since I didn't get a chance to talk to Alex at the event, he kindly answered some of my questions via email, so look below for a Q&A with Alex Chu.
Q&A with Alex Chu
What inspired you to start the Dim Sum Truck?
I’ve always been interested in food and how I can share my passion for different cuisines with others. Chinese food, especially dim sum, has been a part of my life growing up because it was a way for me to spend time with my family over a nice meal. One of my first paying jobs was also as a dim sum server at a fusion Chinese restaurant. I especially like the food truck business because it's fun and right now it's a huge trend in LA.
Therefore, I can probably get new people interested in trying dim sum. Those who traditionally won't drive to the San Gabriel Valley can try dim sum for the first time from my truck when it comes to their neighborhoods on the Westside. It makes me feel like I can change the landscape of food culture and acceptance and I'm proud to do that.
What is the inspiration for your truck design?
I thought of the logo and design and enlisted some designer friends to help create it. Just like the menu, the design is a mix of modern and traditional. Our logo is based on the ancient Chinese seals and red is the predominant color since that is the color of good fortune. Our
truck's background is a bamboo steamer's panel pattern.
Who developed the recipes?
We follow the traditional recipes used for the dim sum items, such as the steamed dumplings, buns, sticky rice, etc. For the garlic sauce, spicy black bean tofu mulita, and peking taco, I developed the recipes based on my personal tastes and favorites. For example, I love the flavor of cucumber and green onion with my duck so I made a tangy cucumber/green onion topper for the duck. The spicy black bean tofu mulita came about because I wanted a more creative vegetarian option. It's based on the mulitas I used to eat at La Taquiza by USC (where I went for undergrad).
Who or what inspired your recipes? What are you working on that's new right now?
Everything I eat and enjoy inspires the fusion items. We try to stay as close to the traditional recipes as possible for the steamed har gow, shau mai, buns and sticky rice to provide customers with the most authentic dim sum experience possible. We're working on a vegetarian dumpling that should be available soon!
How large are you planning to expand your menu to in regards to the number of items sold every day and specials?
We are going to stick with our current menu for now in terms of item count, but we might switch out a special or two for something unexpected, or something that's requested often. For example, we brought out chicken feet for our grand opening event at the Brig and another possible dessert special is a banana red bean puff.
Is everything prepared/cooked fresh everyday?
Yes! Everything is made fresh every morning before being brought onto the truck to finish steaming - same as a restaurant.
What is the farthest you are willing to drive your truck to?
We are currently going to stick to the greater Los Angeles County, limited by the truck itself and permit rules.
Do you plan to expand to a fleet of trucks eventually?
Hopefully! Or we may introduce a smaller "cart" that will be parked in a high foot-traffic zone for quick, steamed dim sum goodies.
The Dim Sum Truck is definitely on its way and one truck that I definitely think is worth chasing down.
Click here to check out the Dim Sum Truck Website!
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