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Silk Road BBQ, Belmont (& Surrondings)

My wife saw a flyer for this food cart posted in the library the other day, and we were intriguide enough to stop by for dinner. This is a mobile roadside stand that serves "Central Asian BBQ", but really seems to be larger in scope than that, with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Korean street food dishes on the menu. The owner/operator said that they are still experimenting with the menu, which is mainly kabobs right now. He mentioned adding a smoker to the rig soon, for ribs. At any rate, we had two kabobs (chicken and kofte-style lamb) , with shepard's salad, tzatziki, and stewed tomatoes. The meat was well marinated and nicely grilled over hardwood coals. Pretty tasty, could have been a little more liberally seasoned. I thought the prices were slightly on the high side (especially since you have to to stand outside in the dead of winter to get it). Anyway, I applaud the effort and look forward to trying more dishes there.

See website link for where they're going to be. The owner mentioned that they're closing for next week in order to deploy "Version 2" of the cart.

http://www.silkroadbbq.com/

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Silk Road BBQ
Rowes Wharf Plaza, Boston, MA 02110

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  1. In BELMONT? Awesome. Whenever I hear about something like this, I always think it'll be in the city. Hooray for street food in the 'burbs! But too bad they're closed for the next week.

    Can you be more specific about the prices? How does it compare to the local middle eastern options like Jasmine and Shiraz in Watertown, which have kabob entrees for around $13?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pia

      About the same entree price (this is dinner, I don't know if their prices differ at lunch time. Personally, I would prefer a lower-priced pita wrap option for lunch) You can also get a kabob without the sides for somewhat less, but I don't remember the price. I think the keys to their success are:
      A) Taking advantage of the mobility to serve underserved areas during the weekday lunch hour. I suggested to the owner the Prospect Hill area of Waltham because there are several thousand people working there with very few lunch options that are easily accessible.
      B) If they are set up in the middle of town, not duplicating the efforts of well-established restaurants like Demos, Jasmine, Fordees.

      1. re: Ruprecht

        Don't forget the thousands of us on the other side of the highway/reservoir in Waltham as well....

    2. This review on yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/silk-road-bbq... indicates that an entree is $12.95.

      1. I stopped last night at around 7:30pm with a friend and got:
        beef kabob dinner w/korean carrot salad
        kofte kabob dinner w/tzatziki salad and stewed tomato

        They both had a good texture, tender and were well grilled, perhaps another minute to get some more char though for both. Also as Ruprecht indicated, they could have been more liberal with the seasoning. I would expect the seasoning out of Central Asia to be much heavier handed. The tzatziki had a really nice tang and bite to it. According to my friend, the carrot slaw was nice for the first 10 or so bites but the spice did not really complement the beef and ended up dominating the palate. The pilaf was decent, slightly buttery, cooked just right, not mushy or underdone. The stewed tomato was OK, not really sure if the acidity of the tomato worked with either the kofte or the

        That being said, they are not aiming for authenticity, or at least, it is not their primary goal as I understand it after chatting with the man behind the grill, Ed. What they are trying to accomplish is perhaps best left for Ed to describe in person.

        I will definitely go back to sample the chicken which looked excellent, will likely ask for a lot more seasoning as well and look forward to trying the desserts. You can park in the lot that they are camping in so no need to worry about that. Also, they are about to get their license for Waltham and will be pursuing Watertown and Cambridge quickly after that. Finally, the smoke from the charcoal was wonderful, brought me back to the street markets in China in a flash.

         
         
         
         
        1. Made another trip tonight with a friend at around 7:30pm again coincidentally. The rig now has a canopy and Ed has some tunes blasting quietly. We chatted up Ed while we waited for the food to grill and take in the awesome smell of the charcoal.

          Since my last visit, there have a been a few changes:
          -Carrot slaw now uses chili powder instead of cayenne according to Ed and you can tell the difference, perhaps needing a bit more heat. I wonder if a finer julienne like you would get as a Chinese cold appetizer would be a better texture?
          -Beef is now in a different marinade, or in a marinade for the first time.
          -They've dropped prices $2 for the dinner plates from $12 to $10 which to my wallet is much more agreeable.

          I ordered a chicken skewer plate with Mediterranean salad. Salad and pilaf together, were the right foils for the protein. The chicken was juicy, tender and Ed left it on the grill long enough to develop a nice char around the outside. It was finished with a squeeze of lemon juice. Sadly, because we were having a lively conversation with Ed about the food and their plans, no seasoning made it onto the skewer. The chicken was tasty but could have used some a sprinkle of salt and pepper at minimum and I'm sure if some of their homemade seasoning had made it on their, it would have done an admirable job. I wish they would serve the chicken with skin. I suppose that would be moving into yakitori territory but crispy skin would just kick ass.

          The beef was excellent without additional seasoning and like the chicken, Ed left it on the grill longer so it was char a bit more. The (new) marinade was a bit sweet, a bit savory, nothing extreme. It was also topped off with a squeeze of lemon juice, it added an acidity that balanced the other flavors.

          Ed had the smoker sitting nearby and is going to fire it up for ribs for Saturday dinner making it very tempting to go back again. In summary, very tasty, still a few rough edges perhaps but so much promise. Only if they could serve beer, I would just hang around, order skewers and drink beers. Who needs pilaf and salad!

          6 Replies
          1. re: avial

            Oops on the seasonings for the skewers! (so many great conversations, just forgot) -- We're using chili pepper instead of coriander for the Korean carrots, so less authentic, may sneak a little coriander back in, still using a frightening amount of cayenne -- In general, moving slowly but surely towards avial's heat zone (good thing we just got approved to sell gelato) -- Big <sighs> on the piva (Russian for beer) -- A skewer in one hand, and a Baltika in the other hand, is definitely a peak experience -- Not likely to get approval for that in Belmont.

            1. re: edcornelia

              Belmont finally got its first liquor store, in Cushing Sq. Can hellfire and perdition be far behind?

              1. re: peregrine

                Actually, we have TWO stores in town that sell alcohol. The other is in Belmont Center. It's not clear to me whether either sells any hard liquor. And we still do not have any bars. But you are right, clearly we are on the road to ruin. Tee hee.

                1. re: PinchOfSalt

                  Pretty sure the Cushing Sq one sales hard alcohol... nice place.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    One nice thing about that store is the bulk balsamico. You buy the first bottle and when its used up you can refill the bottle at a very reasonable price from a mini-vat. It is very nice stuff for the money.

              2. re: edcornelia

                I really should have thought twice before posting at 1am, that is my excuse for the lack of any coherence in my posting.

            2. We've been there twice now and will be back. I agree that the $2 price drop made a difference to us too, because we're about two blocks away from both Jasmine and Shiraz which have similar offerings in the $12-14 price range. But actually, even though all three places have meat kebabs served with rice, roasted tomatoes, and shepard's salad, the seasonings on the Silk Road BBQ are different, and they TASTE like they have just come off a fired-up grill in a way that I don't know if you can duplicate at a restaurant.

              The chicken is great -- usually I'm not a chicken fan, but the charred outside and tender inside was delicious, and I didn't find it underspiced at all. I liked the lamb kofte, but didn't get to eat much of it because my toddler wolfed much of it down after he finished his hot dog (he kept requesting "Mo' meatball! Mo' meatball!") My favorite was the pork, which was a special one day. I often don't like pork because the sweet meat thing bothers me, but this was a juicy, savory pork kebab and again, the meat was perfectly done.

              It takes about ten minutes for the food to be ready, but as others have mentioned, Ed, who runs the stand, will tell you about his adventures while you wait. Or do what we did and bring a 2-year old to chase around the parking lot, to work up an appetite for dinner. If no 2-year old is available, you can also call ahead and order.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Pia

                Where in Belmont does he usually set up?

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  The lot at the NW corner of Davis and Trapelo, across from Joy Cleaners (394 Trapelo Rd, Belmont, MA).

                  Hopefully the StreetView comes up with this link:
                  http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&amp;s...

                2. re: Pia

                  Just out of curiosity (on this rainy day), is there some type of semi-protected seating there? Was planning on dragging the family there tonight.

                  1. re: tdaaa

                    No seating, it's purely take-out. It's an outdoor grill in the middle of a parking lot.

                    1. re: Pia

                      Sorry, tdaa, we have no formal covered seating. We do have 2 counter stools, but they're outside of our central canopy. Curiously, rainy days have been very strong for us, lots of romantic couples with umbrellas. We welcome folks under our roof, the other day it felt like a college party all squeezed in, kinda novel but understandably not a solution. The day in question, April 2, the Globe sent a photographer over. She took hundreds of pics in the rain, then ducked under for a cup of tea. With warmer weather, we hope folks will follow our BYOFC suggestion (FC=folding chair). It's been great fun seeing all sorts of folks mixing it up (reminds me of the old old days standing in line at the No Name fish restaurant). We're hoping to line up live music for weekend nights, too.

                3. Hit up Silk Road yesterday for a bite after a friendly bball game in Watertown. They've gotten a new spot at the VFW parking lot across from the fire station - 310 Trapelo Rd and yesterday was their first day at that spot. Parking is easier because that area is not a business strip like where the first spot is, up the road at the auto shop.

                  I had a beef skewer, served on a tortilla which hit the spot, savory, bit of char/crust and the tortilla soaked up that bit a of juice just right. I also got to try their pinto bean offering which I thought was just right, not overflavored and served as a good foil to whatever else they might serve, it was a bit too salty and Ed warned me ahead of time that was the case suggesting that they would be more careful on that next time around. I also tried a few of their new style ribs - they've since switched to a dry rub to get a crust. I forget the ratios of the various components of the rub but I got hits of sweet, savory and spice. The ribs had a good texture though one of the smaller ones I tried was a bit dry but having a nice crust distracted distracted me a lot there. Lastly, they were out of pulled pork but another trip should solve that. Overall, a worthwhile trip.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: avial

                    Anyone been recently - any new items? Looks like Ed sets up at either at 310 Trapelo Rd. or 395, depending on the day.

                    1. re: Taralli

                      Ribs seem to be worked out, looked pretty good. The last time I was there, 3+ wks ago, he was experimenting with Jerk chicken legs - needed more spice, IMHO. He also has added lamb kabob in addition to the lamb kefta - looked pretty good.

                      My only beef with silk road is the inconsistency in location and days open. It is annoying to get all excited about going, only to find that they are not open that day due to holiday, graduation, etc. I know, I know, I should check the website to see if they are open that day, but I never do.