Devilicious Food Truck

>> Friday, February 25, 2011

Devilicious Weekly Schedule:
Mon: 12700 High Bluff Dr
Tues: 10290 Campus Point Dr
Wed: 10070 Barnes Canyon Rd
Thurs: Changes, last seen at 5800 Block of Copley Dr
Fri: Corner of John Jay Hopkins and General Atomics Ct
Price: $8-15 (depending on how much you order)

The Quick Bit:
+ 3 words: Lobster Grilled Cheese
+ Great Specials
+ Truly restaurant quality food out of the truck
+ Not as greasy as you think
+ Great friendly service
+ Food cooked to order
Δ Menu could have more vegetarian options
Δ Weekly locations could stabilize more (for Tuesday and Thursday)

Devilicious had a first month of operation party that I was invited to and had the opportunity to sample an entire tasting menu of their menu items. As I've visited this truck several times and gotten to know the operators, I will definitely be biased, but I feel like the food ultimately speaks for itself.

I contacted Dyann and Kristina ahead of this blog post and sent them some interview questions. I will be interleaving their responses within the post and paraphrasing where necessary (and noting the paraphrase). Please let me know if this style of post works and I will attempt to contact other chefs/owners in the future as well.

As I mentioned in the previous post, San Diego has been slower than LA and OC to see the Gourmet Food Truck Boom. As of this posting, I'd say San Diego has fewer than 15 "Gourmet Food Trucks." Part of the problem is that the gourmet food trucks that are out there have all had their fair share of drawbacks. At MIHO you pay a fortune and aren't full (and sometimes you wait extremely long for your food); Tabe has some decent tacos but they use canned fruits inside the tacos; Chop Soo-ey is owned by the Cohn Group (yes this is a horrible thing, like buying your computer from Dell); KalbiQ is like Tabe but worse in every way; Copper Chimney's (recently defunct) much hyped dosa - cold. As recently as November 2010, San Diego has distinctly lacked a great foodie truck that didn't have the work Mariscos in its name (and those trucks aren't "gourmet").

Enter Devilicious - named after the owners Dyann Huffman and Kristina Repp for their "devilish personalities and delishious food," the truck specializes in "twisted comfort food." Dyann and Kristina have been friends for years and have a "combined 38 years of experience in the food industry." When I asked about their goal with the truck, they responded, "Opening a restaurant is definately in our future but the Food Truck offered us a way to start to fulfill that dream now.  As we gain more recognition and build our customer base the reality of a storefront grows closer and we are very excited." Dyann's background as a chef includes graduating from CIA and working at Gramercy Tavern in New York with Tom Colicchio. Kristina's background is in the front of house as she has waited tables and managed restaurants.

I've visited Devilicious many times in its eight weeks of operation. In that time I've tried most of the menu items including the specials. Perhaps I will always be remembered as the kimchee taster because I gave some feedback that the kimchee in their kimchee dog wasn't spicy enough. One thing that really impressed me was that when I gave this feedback to them, they immediately set about to correct it. While I understand it's very difficult to please every single customer (especially one something like spice level), my feedback was handled in an extremely professional manner and the attitude was of teamwork and cooperation on how to make the final product better.

Another generalization that I'll make is that the technical execution of the food is very good. I would not say that any of the fried food was underfried, and (more importantly) none of the seafood ordered is overcooked. And when I say the seafood is not overcooked, I mean it as in the temperatures of the proteins are on the level of what you would expect from Gramercy.
Devilicious Winter 2011 Menu 
In the area that Devilish caters to, there is definitely a very large minority of vegetarians. I asked more about the menu and was given the following response, "All of our menu items are cooked to order so we are very flexible to most dietary restictions and would be happy to offer a vegetarian option.  This being only our 8th week in business we created a menu that offers many options and will be changing it seasonally in order to add more choices. Now that we know what our clientele is asking for we can focus on more meat challenged options."
(tasting portion) House smoked turkey, smoked gouda, apple slaw
I'm not a big fan of turkey and I actually hate the texture of apples, but this item is honestly better than the lobster grilled cheese. The smoke from the turkey and cheese contrasts the tart sweetness of the apple. The texture of the apple gives the necessary texture element to the dish to prevent boredom. The entire dish was well seasoned and worked very well. Note, the portion I have of this was a tasting portion and the normal order comes with (better) bread.
Smoked Bacon Dog, house made habanero kimchee, agave mayo
This dish has the the devil integrated very well into it when the kimchee is working. The spice of the kimchee is cooled by the agave mayo, which does contain the additional sweetness from the agave. The sweet and spicy flavors contrast each other well against the savoriness of the bacon-wrapped dog.
Deconstructed Corn Beef with rye crouton, carmelized onion and garlic, oven roasted roma , fresh fries, gruyere, fried egg
I'm definitely one of those people that loves a runny egg yolk encompassing and binding together all the flavors underneath. The technical perfection of the fried egg really drives this dish forward. Furthermore, the corn beef in this dish is tender, well seasoned, and delicious. The idea of doing the deconstruction on the sandwich is very good and shows Chef Huffman's culinary creativity.
Butter Poached Lobster Grilled Cheese (tasting portion)
Butter Poached Lobster Grilled Cheese
The signature dish, creme de la creme, piece de resistance - this dish is pescatarian-friendly and delivers on all the promises that the mind dreams up when reading about it. The only problem I have with it personally is that it's not as good as some of the other items on  the menu despite getting all the love and attention. On the other hand, it is still an awesome grilled cheese and I'm going to declare it the best grilled cheese sandwich in San Diego.
Fried Yummies (chili)
Fried Yummies (hot dogs in mac n cheese)
Fried Yummies (cream of broccoli cheddar)
Fried Yummies (panchetta and aspargus risotto)
The fried yummies are the result of being "inspired by sitting on the porch on a sunny afternoon enjoying Mimosa's." In general, a pasta shell is filled with the yummy mixture and then breaded and deep fried. If there's a miss on the menu, it's that the fried yummies are sometimes inconsistent. The risotto yummies were too salty (probably as the result of the parmesan) while the cream of broccoli yummies completely lacked salt.  The mac and cheese yummy was carb overload to the point where even coffee didn't really help. Despite my complaints about the yummies, I like that they change weekly as it adds variety to the menu. I also don't think that I'm going to stop ordering them anytime soon, so there's definitely about them that attracts me despite the complaints.
Truffle Tots
Truffle Tots (inside)
The truffle tots are essentially very creamy mashed potatoes with truffle oil that are deep fried into the shape of tater tots. One key thing about these is that the truffle oil is actually white truffle oil, so the flavor is a little more subtle. I personally appreciate the white truffle flavor more, but I think most people are used to black truffle so that tends to draw some minor criticism. Overall, these creations are great for anyone that appreciates truffle as the aroma and flavor really come through.
Satan Fries - Fries with blue cheese, carmelized onion, smoked bacon, and devilicious sauce (not shown)
I'm not a big fan of the Satan fries. It's not that they aren't good, but it's just that there are so many better things on the menu. I think part of my problem is that whenever you have some sort of integrated fry dish, you expect the cheese to be melted and act as a binder to the fries mixed with meat. In the Satan fries, everything seems more like a separate component that is thrown together and hasn't had a change to integrate.

In addition to the regular menu, Devilicious also runs weekly specials. When I asked about some of my favorite specials coming back, I was told, "Part of the reason we run specials is the creation of our next menu. We enjoy feedback from all of our guests and track sales of the specials. (The smoked Pork will def be on our next menu)  I think there may be a riot if the Grill Cheese ever goes away, I'd say that is our signature dish." While I usually go to Devilicious with the intention of getting a regular menu item, I invariably end up having my attend diverted by one of the weekly specials.
Fried Spaghetti Sandwich with Fried Yummies
Fried Spaghetti Sandwich Closeup
I really liked this dish - I liked the melted cheese with the spaghetti and I liked the bolognese sauce in the spaghetti, but I would never order this again. The problem with this is that it was just too much carbs, and it was a battle to get through the rest of the day without falling asleep.
Fried Egg Devilwich with cheddar, bacon and kimchee
Fried Egg Sandwich inside
Unfortunately for the photos, my egg yolk burst before I could get a good photo, but that certainly didn't diminish any of the taste. This item didn't actually come with kimchee, but I requested it extra and it certainly kicked up the dish for me. I loved the additional hit of spice with the runny yolk and bacon. It was like a great breakfast inside of a sandwich. 

Back to the technical execution, it's a very simple thing to either undercook a grilled cheese or burn the bread trying to make the cheese melt. I've seen countless grilled cheese sandwiches (from myself and my other dining companions) and they are all perfectly golden brown with cheese oozing out. 
Cilantro Wild Shrimp over a bed of baby spinach with red pepper, red onion, English cucumber, roasted corn, feta, and citrus lime vinaigrette
Closeup shot
I can say I liked this because the shrimp were the star of the dish (and not the salad). The shrimp were cooked perfectly and the cilantro marinade was a great way to accentuate the flavor of the shrimp. The real surprise of this dish was the roasted corn that was included in the salad. The sweetness of the corn was an extremely welcome and refreshing touch to the bold flavor of the shrimp.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp lettuce wraps on butter lettuce with satsuma tangerines, japanese cucumber, yellow pepper, red onion, wasabi fumi furikake, and yuzu dressing
Lettuce Wraps Closeup
This incarnation of the shrimp special was superior to the previous. While the mandarins weren't as good as the corn, they still added the necessary element of sweetness to neutralize the bold cilantro flavor of the shrimp. The yuzu worked as a better dressing than the previous week because the citrus element was stronger (and the thyme flavor in the previous week never really came out). The wasabi fumi furikake was a very nice touch as it added a hint of the wasabi flavor without overwhelming the other flavors.
Stuffed Flatbread "hot pockets"
Stuffed Flatbread with spinach tomato, onion, and feta
While I normally demand some meat, I would have been happy as a vegetarian eating these for my meal. The flatbread is freshly made to order and retains that savory element of freshly made bread. It also works very well as the whole "hot pocket" analogy, but it's much healthier and tastier.
Scallop Panzanella with red peppers, cucumbers (don't remember the rest) and balsamic vinaigrette
I feel like a broken record player saying all the specials are awesome and amazing, but again this special was very well done. I had the same worry of the scallops being overcooked and ruining this dish, but they were cooked very well. The panzanella itself was very good and very satisfying. The most surprising thing is that by definition a panzanella is a salad. Usually when I eat a "salad" I will still feel hungry. However, after eating this panzanella I was very satisfied with my lunch.
Smoked spicy Pork with mango cucumber chutney, tzatziki wrapped in house made green onion naan
I think Dyann is very proud of this creation, and I agree whole heartedly. This is my favorite dish of all the items I've tried at Devilicious. The pork had a good spice to it which was cooled by the tzatziki, and the sweetness of the mango chutney accentuated all the flavors. The pork was also very moist, juicy and flavorful. The green onion "naan" reminded me of a Chinese green onion pancake and held together the "wrap" very well. 

In the end, I don't think I can say enough good things about how impressed and satisfied I am with Devilicious. If there's any downside it's that sometimes I want to order a special that was a special so I can't order it again. The most impressive things to me about Devilicious is that you get very technically well-executed food that pays attention to flavor contrast and texture contrast. You also get this at what I'd consider a bargain price (although it is probably somewhat expensive for lunch to many people). Devilicious is easily the lunch highlight to my week when it stops by.

Since I am biased and I know I'm going to be biased, I'm only going to award Devilicious the kilobit award. I would love nothing more than to give them the megabit, but I don't think I can do it right now in good conscience.

I'll close this with some comments from Dyann and Kristina:
The last 8 weeks have been some of the most fulfilling weeks in our professional lives.  It is an absolute joy to wake up every morning to go and work with my partner and best friend.  We have never worked harder or more diligently to make ourselves a success, our dedicatation to each other and our business is what drives us everyday to do more and do it better then the day before.  We consider ourselves lucky that our people love our food and keep coming back for more.

Enjoy, life is to short to eat bad food.
The Girls of Devilicious 


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
If any special treatment is provided to the blogger, full disclosure is presented at the beginning of the post.

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