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May 5, 2011 11:17 PM

Food Truck Frenzy...No More?...

I was, this evening, among 15 or so trucks and not a one seemed appealing. They showed up for the Thurs Farmer's Market/Cinco de Mayo in Newhall. I had the Gringowood salad bowl from Gringo's Tacos. For $5 it was ok. I ordered an ice coffee from Maui Wowi(?) for 3.50$ -it tasted like MUD! Shrimp Pimp looked interesting but, I didn't feel like forking over 9 bucks esp. when I have bigger and better in my freezer at home.

Baby's BadAss Burgers has a nice looking pink truck but, no one was standing in line. Even King Kone was lineless. So, has the infatuation worn off? Is this phenom getting out of hand as quoted by Josh Hiller from RoadStoves? Or, am I just missing the good ones. I do like the Dosa Truck...

Well, one more chance to try a few...
But, I'm really not impressed.

What say you?
Really...I am interested in your opinion.

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  1. I would have to agree that not all trucks are created equal. Most try to be trendy and cool, and aren't completely about the food. My favorites:
    The Ludo Truck - LFC...enough said, right? Ludo's fried chicken is like magic. The chicken croquettes, chicken wings, and buttermilk-fried chicken strips...all are super yummy. They take three days to prepare the potatoes for the Kennebec fries, which results in a super crispy yet pillowy soft inside french fry. The slaw is acidic enough to counterbalance the fact that you're eating fried chicken and fries, but has a great punch of heat from the jalapenos. I was impressed with the homemade berniase sauce that comes with the meal...there's a homemade mustard, and a homemade bbq sauce, too. I've only tried the bernaise because I love it so much. I've tried their famous lavender-honey biscuit...and it's really not as spectacular as people say...the honey was there, and so was the lavender and it was flaky, but there seems to be something missing. The food while is great, can be on and off. I've had days where everything is piping hot, and days where it's just warm.
    Border Grill Truck - One word...tacos. Yummy yummy tacos. My favorite is the fried fish taco that's glazed slightly with some honey and topped with pickled onions and slaw. It's by far the best rendition of the fish taco that I've ever had. The touch of sweet from the honey balances out all the other flavors. My only complaint is that there's not enough taco....three bites isn't enough for me, The chicken taco, while good, I can't remember, so probably not noteable however the busy working the truck recommended it. However the cochinita pibil taco was delightful. I always love me some suckling pig taco.
    Kogi - I know this is a controversial pick, but I really do like Kogi. The flavors of the food are balanced well. I've had a few imitators, and I always love the Kogi burrito more...fluffy, fluffy eggs, well seasoned meat, flavorful slaw...copiers beware...your imitation just can't live up to this one. While I'm not a fan of their blackjack quesadilla....too much sauce that overpowers all the other stuff in the quesadilla, I do like their tacos...with the spicy pork filling being my favorite.
    Coolhaus - Candied bacon and brown butter ice cream....perfect! Pistachio truffle ice cream. So yummy! The cookies are not all that great, but the ice cream is really good.

    Border Grill
    1445 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401

    Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

    3 Replies
    1. re: attran99

      Hi attran99, totally agree with your assessment that many just aren't very good and all about the trend. I have been lucky enough to find a couple of other trucks that have decent and reasonably priced food:

      Komodo - it's asian fusion, but very tasty, with fresh toppings, and nice portions. The java taco has spicy pork, there's a crispy fish taco with grapes, and a carne taco with a nice jalapeno aioli. The sides are meatballs or fries, and the portions are big, and fries are decent, thin, crispy and well seasoned.

      Nom-Nom - yes the banh mi is all that, and huge!! They also have a lemongrass chicken taco that I really liked. Really just tried the banh mi, but was impressed by the size & freshness of the baguette.

      And my husband had good things to say about the Flying Pig truck's spicy pork belly burrito.

      1. re: Phurstluv

        I totally agree with you on Nom Nom, too! The banh mi fillings are super traditional...just the way my Mom would make them while we were growing up. However, I wish their picked vege was more pickled and they made their own mayo fresh...traditional Vietnamese mayo is made with egg yolks, oil, salt, and maybe some garlic. I do find their bread not as super fresh as banh mi shops who use baguettes that used to be in the oven about an hour before being used to make sandwiches.

    2. Anybody else read the LAT article on the whole food truck thing hitting the point of oversaturation?

      11 Replies
      1. re: Akitist

        I've been saying this since the first food truck festival.


        BTW, that LAT article was a crock. I don't eat @ Taco Zone for the communal factor, I do it cuz they taste great @ 1.25/ea

        1. re: ns1

          I have never understood the whole food truck mania (I refuse to use the word "frenzy").

          Why would I want to chase down a food truck, then wait around for 1/2 hour, to have a mobile unit that when I was growing up was affectionately called a "roach coach" prepare something that I could arguably get at a brick and mortar place that is just as good and perhaps cheaper and with better service. To top it off, I have to eat the food standing, often in the hot sun.

          No thanks.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I totally hear ya, ipse, and had those exact same thoughts & feeling initially. That's probably why I still have never tried Kogi, even though I know now you can buy them without chasing down the trucks. I've only chased down one, to much unsuccess, since they parked in a private lot, even though they publicly tweeted about it.

            I happened upon Nom-Nom while actually looking for a b&m store by An's daughter that sells banh mis to go. And I looked up Komodo first, before following them over to the same spot in SaMo. And just for the record, both times, I waited in line <10 minutes. And, I went back to my car to eat, I don't stand & eat generally either. But I was pleasantly surprised both times.

            1. re: Phurstluv

              It's funny, but if you were served the SAME food at a sit-down brick and mortar place, you'd be sort of non-plussed.

              But because it came out of a hip "food truck" (and now "food bus" if you're in SF), then it's a transcendental experience ... like the Dali Lamai kissing you on the forehead.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I guess that's right, since it does surprise me to get decent food served from a mobile unit roach coach. But I certainly didn't consider it transcendental, thanks.

            2. re: ipsedixit

              This off shoot of the original RC approach (Hey, I'm a poet) which stemmed from the captive office audience who either couldn't or didn't want to brown bag it or go out for lunch somewhere was really all about giving bar goers, or shoppers someplace to grab a bite on the way home. It has morphed into something that is/was hipper than thou for the LA scenesters (if you will) and a way for those who don't want or can't go to the time and expense of doing a bricks and mortar restaurant a way to get into the game.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  More like Pet Pop-rocks (since these are consumable).

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Three weeks back on a Friday there was a food truck festival - in the parking lot of Webster's in Altadena. We came back thoroughly disappointed. Unfortunately it turned out to be quite cold, and waiting in line for the two food trucks that we tried was NOT pleasant. Had the weather been warmer (like today), it might not have been as bad.
                We tried a Phily cheese-steak truck, with the requisite "wit or witout" jargon! We were the second order they took at that point in time (we tried to go to this thinking the line was non-existent, and so the food would come quickly, while I then stood in the long line for the Shrimp PoBoy truck). My wife got the order 15 minutes later! The sandwich was OK, and for $8 an extremely poor value proposition.
                From the shrimp truck we got two "drunken" shrimp tacos for my wife, for $5. I have never seen smaller tacos - these must have been special ordered, because I have never seen this microscopic sized tacos in any market, ever!
                My $8 shrimp sandwich was fine, but again nothing to remember past the weekend! Waiting in line for so long to get overpriced food in the cold - JUST SAY NO! On the way back home, we stopped at Bulgarini for two scoops of gelato, and talked to Leo for a while.

                At Caltech, Ernie's Truck serves most meals for between $3 and $4, and wait time ranges from 5-10 minutes (depending on when you get there). That I will patronize on a continuing basis!

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I like the concept of trucks offering something different you can't easily get. But I've always been lost on the concept of following them on twitter so I can drive somewhere to get their food.

                  My personal take on it is that lunch trucks are their for my convenience. I can't go get food easily, I walk out and there's the truck. I'm not there to chase them down and hope they're still there and haven't left already but forgot to tweet about it. If I'm after trying new and different foods, I'd rather compile a list of places I want to try and drive to them and know they're there.

            3. The trucks collectively may be working on nuking their collective fridge, but there are still tasty bites to be had and I still like the concept, process. Love how they all include sales tax in their price and usually make the transaction easy, love how they all tend to be customer focused.

              The SO had mandoline grill the other night, I had lomo arigato, both were just as good as they have ever been.

              1. There are always about 6-8 trucks parked near my office (Ocean Park/31st) and each time I wander over and buy lunch, I'm disappointed. The only trucks that I have consistent success with are the Dogtown truck and the Greasy Wiener truck - both have amazing hot dogs.

                Yesterday, I spent about $8 for one of the worst carne asada concoctions I've ever eaten, it was rubbery, chewy, gross. Had to buy a second lunch elsewhere, after throwing the truck lunch away.

                There's one good Indian truck that I lucked upon last month that I've never found again, and didn't get their name. Sigh.

                4 Replies
                1. re: yogachik

                  Maybe the Dosa Truck. I liked that one. Great Banana pakoras!

                  1. re: yogachik

                    I'm at the same corner for work. Probably Bollywood Bites. Dosa hasn't come by in months until they showed up this week, India Jones also hasn't been in forever and No Tomatoes practically lives there so you would have seen it again. Personally I'm an India Jones fan of the bunch.

                    On the food truck topic I think of it this way: There's a chinese restaurant near my house that I order in from at least once a month. Do you think it's any good? No. Would I recommend it on Chowhound? I'm not sure I'd recommend it to my next door neighbor. But every now and then, when I'm driving home from work, I have a desire to quickly pick up some Moo Shu, and this place is easy and mostly edible. The whole food truck thing is great in that when I don't have time to get in my car or bring my own lunch instead of having a couple of options nearby, I now have three times as many. I've tried a whole lot of them, some I'd go out of my way for, some I enjoy having around my office but thats it and some I'll never try again. At the end of the day, at least I've gotten to try lots of new things for relatively cheap.

                    1. re: Discokill

                      It's definitely not No Tomatoes. Maybe Bollywood Bites. I keep looking though.

                      Bollywood Cafe
                      11101 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                    2. re: yogachik

                      I tried Dogtown last night -- it was late and I was hungry. For six bucks, I was expecting something a little more impressive. The wiener on the "Spicy Angelino" dog was small, I couldn't taste the bacon, and...well, I can eat a hot dog with salsa on a generic bun at home.

                      I'd eat it again if it was available and I was hungry and there were no other options, but I'd hardly go out of my way to get one.

                    3. my first thought upon seeing the title of your post was the article from yesterday's LAT Food section that Akitist mentioned: