San Diego Food Truck Festival

>> Monday, June 20, 2011

Date of Event: 6/19/2011 
Entrance Fee: $6.26 presale, $10 at the door, $22 VIP presale
Number of Trucks: 16

The Quick Bit:
+ Surprisingly quick lines in the beginning
+ Beautiful Venue
+ Plenty of Parking
Δ Security could have faced inside instead of out
Δ More trucks could have showed up
Δ More trucks from outside San Diego could have showed up

I came into this event feeling some large obligation to cover it and thinking that I was going to regret my $6.26 purchase of presale tickets. While there is a lot that I would like to say, the truth is I ended up enjoying this event a lot even though it burned a hole in my wallet. I'll keep my commentary to the next two photos and captions.
Step up and get your tracking bracelet (wait wasn't it supposed to go on the ankle?)
Barb, what is missing in this photo? A wire? Yeah, that must be it!
Onto the food!

Asian Persuasion:
Asian Persuasion

Asian Persuasion just launched on 6/17, two days before this event. While their first menu isn't super inspiring, their prices were certainly nothing to scoff at. Being the new kid on the block and as a matter of discussion, I did end up ordering and starting my day from this truck:
Korean Short Ribs
My Korean short ribs were overcooked and two sweet. The sweet coleslaw did not help to balance the ribs either. Hopefully they change the slaw to kimchee. It also wouldn't hurt to put some furikake on the steamed rice as it looks all  bored and alone sitting there.

Chomp Chomp Nation:
Chomp Chomp - what happened to the jaws on the front?
Chomp Chomp captured my attention with their menu (and since they're not from San Diego), so I decided to order a lot:
Flower Power Tea
So I'll probably take flak for ordering a chick drink, but I saw the name of the drink and I it reminded me that I needed to build my lawn defense before the zombies ate my brain. The Lychee jelly was a little too sweet, but it was a nice balance to the unsweetened tea. I really did enjoy this tea as it was good alone and it was also an excellent compliment to the food.
Chili Crab Cake Sandwich
First, the brioche bun was utterly offensive. It was cold, somewhat stiff, and added an element of sweetness that detracted from the main dish. Those chips were also pretty offensive as half of them were overcooked and the other half were undercooked (or at least they didn't taste any good). With that said, I ate this sandwich open faced with just the bottom of the bun and it was amazing - easily the best dish I had at the event. They got a nice char on the crab cake which sealed in the juices and the sweet and spicy garlic chili sauce was spot on. I felt as if I was eating some chili crab without having to do the work of removing the shells. The slaw of cabbage and julienned cucumbers and carrots was also pleasing and complimented the dish well.
Surf and Turf - Kobe Beef and Tiger Shrimp Satay
I asked for the kobe rare (which is why it's so pink), but they basically gave it to me raw. I expect the chef to at least exercise some good judgment in these situations. Even rare, I couldn't really tell that the beef was kobe, so I think it may have just been a selling point. The tiger shrimp were brined, which gave them an excellent texture. The seasoning on the shrimp was excellent and the highlight of this dish. The satay sauce appeared to be constructed from a variety of canned elements that made it quite unpalatable. I'm not sure what the starch cubes (rice cakes?) where but they could have been left off also.

India On Wheels:
India On Wheels
The first time I visited India on Wheels, I pretty much have a nightmare paratha. However, that visit was the first day they operated and I later learned that they had all sorts of problems turning on appliances on the truck. I figured I would give them another shot at some point and the San Diego Food Truck Festival seemed to be the right time.
Paneer Tikki Masala Curry Rice Bowl with Naan (no rice)
I didn't get a nice closeup shot of the curry, but this curry really impressed me. You could actually see the ground spices that appeared to be hand grown in the preparation. While a lot of Indian restaurants suffer because they are lazy and have to use one generic curry to drive several others, running a food truck with only one or two curries a day allows the owner to focus and properly make the sauce separately for each curry. That care and attention to detail was apparent in this curry. The Naan was passable for a truck but it could have been much better. They needed to brush it in some butter and finish it by crisping it a bit.
Samosa with Mint Chutney
I was a little too busy enjoying the curry and committed a sin by allowing the mint chutney to make the samosa soggy. Even with that, I really did enjoy the samosa. The shell appeared to be some part pastry dough as it was slightly sweetened and it flaked very well. When it was crispy, the crunch combined with the spices of the filling and the freshness of the mint chutney made this samosa extremely enjoyable. My only regret was not eating this before the curry.
By this time, I was pretty full and all the lines had started to become huge:
View from the back of the Devilicious Line (the longest)
I decided to call the day while I was ahead as I had eaten at two great trucks and one new one that needs to find its stride. If I learned something from India On Wheels, it's that the food trucks need some time to find their way. Hopefully Asian Persuasion will improve as there really aren't any Asian food trucks in San Diego (psst a good Chinese Food truck would be killer especially since there are no *good* Chinese restaurants in San Diego).
I'll leave with photos of all the trucks and their menus from the event.
Mangia Mangia:
Sorry! I forgot to get just the truck!
Two for the Road:
Crepes Bonaparte:
The Gathering Spot Bistrotruck:
Sorry! I forgot to get a photo of just the truck!
Kona Ice:
Chunk-n-Chip Cookies:
Pierogi Truck:
Tabe BBQ:
Kaminski's Super Q:
Mangia Mangia, sorry for not getting a photo of your truck. Please accept my apology as you will be the next food truck reviewed on this site. Gathering Spot Bistrotruck, I'm also very sorry for not getting a good photo of your truck. I did manage to get a decent photo with the entire truck though so I hope that will do!


The Realist SD June 28, 2011 at 11:03 AM  

I also went to this festival. Meh:

Also, read this article:

gastrobits June 28, 2011 at 1:59 PM  

As I said, I did the presale ticket and got there at 12:45 and they let me in at that time. I was able to get to a bunch of food trucks before it got really crowded.

I agree that the actual event could have been much better and they really under-delivered, but in the end, I'm focused more about the food on the food trucks and not some shady promoter. I don't think the food trucks that showed up should be punished for the promoter not delivering as promised

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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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