Food Trucks and Fun - Vista

>> Monday, May 23, 2011

Date: 5/21/2011
Location: Boomers! in Vista

The Quick Bit:
+ Food trucks from LA and OC
+ Not so crowded (good for diners)
Δ Trucks could have opened on time
Δ Could have been more customers (for the trucks)

As mentioned in the past, gourmet food trucks have been a trendy concept in the food industry recently. However, a recent story in NPR suggests that the food truck boom may be coming to an end (or at least slowing down). 

In San Diego, the food truck revolution is still in full swing as the trend seemed to lag about a year behind before taking off. As a result, San Diego is starting to have more gatherings of food truck events this year. Boomers! decided to host one such gathering, inviting trucks from LA and OC to come to each of its three San Diego locations for three consecutive days. The event garnered a lot of local media attention with news of trucks selling out within 45 minutes of opening.

I went with a group of friends and since we have been to several events where the trucks completely sell out of food and we had to wait an hour in line per truck, we kind of overreacted and ordered a lot of food quickly instead of slowly pacing the orders and sharing. As a result we only got to try a few trucks; here are the reviews of the food we tried.

Food Junkies:
Sloppy Jose
left to right: Mahi Mahi Taco, Chicken Biscuit, Bratwurst
So somehow I was roped into ordering from this truck since we saw the low prices and thought that meant it was tasting portions. Pretty much the only good thing I have to say about the truck is that the prices were very good. The food reminded me of what Gordon Ramsay may say when he samples the food at restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares.

Lee's Philly:
left to right: spicy chicken, gogi beef, shrimp taco
I didn't really have high hopes for this truck, but I was pleasantly surprised by the food. I had the gogi taco, which was a little too sweet, but the meat was nicely marinated and not overcooked. Furthermore, their kimchee had the right amount of sourness and crunch (but wasn't really spicy enough). The cilantro and onions added some needed freshness to finish off the tacos. Additionally their taco shells were actually warmed on the flat top and didn't fall apart when picked up - a common problem with fusion taco trucks. Overall I was surprisingly pleased.

Soft Shell Crab Club
Soft Shell Crab Grilled Cheese
Devilicious is back from their "road trip" and is debuting many new menu items that they were inspired with on the road.  My favorite new item is anything that involves the soft shell crab. I'm not sure where they source their soft shell crabs, but they are delicious and all have a little bit of the "crab juice" that kills your cholesterol but tastes oh so yummy. 

I originally didn't plan to get any food from Devilicious, but after the horrible food at Food Junkies, I had to make sure I got at least some food that I knew would be good. After having the club this past week, I was a jerk and made a special request for a lobster grilled cheese but with soft shell crab instead of the lobster.   (Sorry to everyone in line behind me and to Chef Huffman who had to accommodate me!). Anyway, the soft shell crab is a huge winner in my book, and short of overcooking or oversalting the crab, I feel like anything made with it would taste great.

At this point, the group was getting pretty full, and Grill Em All still hadn't opened. Luckily I took a look at the Vizzi Truck menu and there was a particular item that caught my eye.
Waygu Beef Sliders
Truffle Popcorn
Foie being cooked
Foie Gras PB&J
So obviously the item that caught my attention was the foie gras - more on this later.

The waygu appeared to a braised beef slider rather than a burger. The meat was very tender and broken down, and the sauce was very enjoyable. My only problem with the dish was that making it from Waygu didn't seem to add anything. By braising the Waygu, all the goodness is already cooked out of the meat. Still, it was an enjoyable dish.

The truffle popcorn was seasoned somewhat unevenly so the truffle flavor didn't really come out. However, I did really enjoy the dried figs mixed into the popcorn and thought they were an excellent touch.

The foie gras was cooked very well and the fig jam and almond butter were also very good. However, the bread was too thick in my opinion and washed out the flavors of the almond butter and the jam when eaten together. Additionally, the foie seemed to have been salted a few too many times, and the fact that the butter used to baste the foie was dripped all over the toast caused the toast to become too salty as well. Overall I still enjoyed the foie (when do I not enjoy it), but I thought the price was very steep for that size of a slice of foie on a food truck. I'd be surprised if they sold 3 more orders of this that day. I would order this again only if it was $15 or if I got a large piece of foie.

Overall, the event was a success even though I didn't get to try Grill Em All. With three out of the four trucks I tried giving at least above average food, this event sets the record for the highest percentage of good food trucks in a food truck gathering.

It will be interesting to see how the food truck trend evolves in San Diego over the course of the next year. Like Mariscos Jalisco in LA, the old school Mariscos trucks in San Diego are still around and deliver a great product as well. It is also incredibly convenient that the food trucks roll right up to office areas to deliver good food at reasonable prices to office workers on a timetable for lunch. On the other hand, if more food trucks such as Food Junkies and Jack in the Box invade the space of the better trucks, the gourmet trucks may earn as bad a reputation as the old roach coaches. Hopefully the food trucks continue to evolve and bring a great product to the table.


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About This Blog

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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