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February 23, 2012

San Francisco Food Tour, Part 2: Food Truck Edition!

Hello everyone! Welcome to my 100th post! This is a very special one, and one of my favorites. Food trucks! I have been on a recent food truck quest, and my hometown doesn't really have many food trucks, i.e. 2 : ( So, I went to visit B, and we decided to take public transit from his house, to San Francisco (about a 30 min drive normally) and try a bunch of local food trucks. It was so fun! I scoured through Twitter, and found some of the best ones, and we discovered some along the way that were big hits as well. The first we tried was the Chairman Bao truck. This is one the most popular trucks in the city, with 2 trucks roaming all over the Bay Area, and over 10,000 followers on Twitter. We had decided beforehand to get a bunch of food from varying trucks, and share it so we each got to try everything. Here's the truck:

We settled on the baked Spicy Chicken with Toasted Sesame Puree, Pickled Carrots-Cucumber and Cilanro bun....

...The baked Coca-Cola Braised Pork with Savoy Cabbage, Yellow Mustard Seeds and Kewpie Mayo bun...

...and the steamed Tender Pork Belly with Tumeric Pickled Daikon and Green Shiso bun.

I was kind of sad to hear they sometimes have a duck bun, that wasn't on the menu when we visited, but I'll save it for another time! The food was amazing! So flavorful, and thoughtful when it came to the ingredient combinations. We tried everything, but I sort of kept the pork belly bun and the braised pork for myself. They were too good to give up! It was so nice out that we decided to sit on the grass in the mid-day sun and eat our food, so sorry for the photo quality. It was kind of windy too, and I almost decided to move to the car, but we had already started eating. There was no way we were moving until we finished eating!

I was really glad the Chairman truck was my first food truck experience, because it was such wonderful food. The buns were so soft, and the baked ones were perfect if you wanted a big sandwich, and the steamed were perfect for trying everything on the menu. 

We then roamed around the city for a while, to get our appetites up again, and we were waiting for Off The Grid to start. Pretty much everyday of the week, lunch and dinner, Off The Grid organizes several trucks to get together at a certain place in and near the city and serve food for a few hours. It's a great way to be able to sample several trucks at once, and you can compare menus and decide what you want to try the most. I highly recommend bringing a friend, so you can get a bunch of different items and share. It's also nice to be able to have each of you get in different lines, so you get all the food at about the same time. That's what I B and I did, and it worked out beautifully.

The next truck we tried was the Hapa SF truck. I ordered the lumpia, which I've had homemade before that was hard to beat. The lumpia at the Hapa SF truck, was delicious and it came with the right sauce for it. B and I scarfed those down in a minute flat! Here's the truck:

Here's the wonderfully flavorful, crispy lumpia! They were kind of small, so don't share with too many people!

Once again, I was kind of disappointed that I didn't get a chance to try their other menu items. Next time! If you've never had lumpia, I recommend finding an authentic Filipino place and try them. I think they're better than even great egg rolls, when done right. You definitely need that sweet-spicy chili sauce to dip them in.

The truck that B was waiting in line for, while I was getting lumpia, was Señor Sisig. A little side note: B and I had a huge love for what are called carne asada fries in San Diego. Our favorite place was Cotixan's (warning, Flash site) and they are a huge portion of french fries, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo and carne asada. The key to them though is that they make their own hot sauce, and you add a couple of those all over the fries and stir it up, and eat with a fork. It's definitely a two person affair trying to finish this huge serving, but it's the perfect drunk food, especially since mexican food is mostly open 24 hours in San Diego. Back to the food trucks: We zeroed in on these because we have been crazily missing carne asada fries. The item we ordered from Señor Sisig, was the Sisig Fries. They were kind of similar to carne asada fries, not quite as good, but still delicious and they were consumed within minutes. Here's the truck:

Here are the fries:

The fries consisted of french fries, nacho cheese, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, jalapeños, and pork. These are not made to be "mexican food", they are Filipino food. I did enjoy the nacho cheese sauce (it's one of my guilty pleasures) and the jalapeños were a nice touch. It was missing the hot sauce that I used to get with carne asada fries, but these were very tasty! I would definitely order them again.

B had ordered his own main dish much earlier in the night, and I was still trying to decide on what my main dish of the night would be. The truck I decided on was still kind of setting up, when many of the others had already opened and started serving. I was so glad I waited because I discovered this gem: Koja Kitchen. It was the highlight of the night. I still couldn't tell you if it was better than Chairman Bao, but they were so close. I had never tried kimchi before, but Koja Kitchen introduced it in a way that was so amazing, and my preferential way, on fries! They had a few delicious looking menu items, but I noticed they have something called the Kamikaze Combo, which was a combination of their Koja BBQ Beef and Rice Patty sandwich, and their Kamikaze Fries, and a drink. I ordered the combo, because everything looked so good! Here's the truck:

I upgraded my Koja, to the Korean BBQ Short Rib Koja. So good! The rice patty "buns" tend to crumble a little, but they are kind of crispy, and I just used a fork and ate the koja right in the wrapper.

Kamikaze Fries: Crisscut fries topped with Korean BBQ Beef, sauteed onions, kimchi, green onions, and drizzled with their signature sauce and Japanese mayo. These were amazing, and I can still taste them every time I look at this photo. They haunt my food a good way : D

B and I sat and decided we needed dessert before we were done with our food truck tour. I had taken a mental note of what each truck had while I was deciding on dinner. I noticed Koja Kitchen had a wonderful looking dessert called the Mochimisu. It was tiramisu using mochi for the chocolate part.

The thing I loved about the Koja Kitchen truck, besides the amazing food, was their truck. They had some great ideas about promoting their food right on the truck itself, that really drew people in to order from them. They had a few LCD TVs on the side of the truck, 2 with a photo of the menu on them, and the other TV had a photo slideshow of the menu items. It was great, because you got to see the food, not just read the menu description. They had nice professional photos taken of their food items, and it really made me want to order from them. More food trucks should take note and do this where possible. Or at least have photos on their site. Either way, works for me. I'm more likely to order from a truck if I can get a visual sense of the food. If I imagine it looks good, I'll order it. Also, sauces. If you have an original looking sauce on your food, I will probably try it. I love sauces. Anyways, I digress.

Overall, the day was successful! We had some amazing food, and I would try any of these trucks again. Go track down your local food trucks and do a tour! You won't be sorry! Some of the most original cuisine is no longer in a restaurant, it's on a truck.

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