Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Am I Kraving Kabob?

Apparently today I was craving steak & cheese from Kraving Kabob, although it's quite possible something else would have been a better choice.  Good news and not so good news in the review (with pic) posted under 3 honks in the first post:
Kraving Kabob (@kravingkabob on Twitter) -- I get that I probably didn't order the right thing for a truck whose specialty is middle eastern food like kabobs, falafel, gyro, souvlaki, etc. by getting a steak & cheese, and next time I'll try something different, but it's what I was in the mood for today.  (They also serve fish & chips.  The owner said they get fresh fish from the Maine Avenue market and marinate it 24 hours.  Nice!  However, it was tilapia again, and you know how I feel about that.  Personally, I'd happily pay more for better fish.)  First of all, I like they are early, like WAY early, because I'm starving by 10 o'clock usually.  Food is cooked to order, and the steak used in my sub looked fresh, not like frozen "Steak'Um" when it was tossed on the griddle.  All good.  There was nobody around when I placed my order of "steak & cheese with easy onions only, plus fries" they started cooking right away.  I went on to make a point of "no lettuce, tomato, or anything else, please" and then proceeded across the square to get some food from a couple other trucks while I waited the 5 minutes I was told the food would take.  Upon return there was still nobody there and I was simply handed a bag of food as I headed back to my office to eat.  Perfectly convenient; no problem.  Then I open my order and it's got loads of lettuce, tomatoes, a mayo-based sauce, and a dash of green sauce.  Grrr!  There wasn't anyone there, so one would think they could focus on getting the only order at the time correct.  OK.  I'm fully aware I'm dwelling on this story excessively, so I apologize, but I was pretty annoyed.  From what I could taste of the green herb-based sauce, I would totally order it on purpose again, and maybe even get extra to dip my fries in... fries which need a hole poked in the top of the container after they're cooked so they don't steam and get soggy.  Anyway, three honks for the food overall. 
I think I might be cranky today.  :-/  For real though, I will look forward to going back to try something else next time they come around.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another new truck. More Korean food.

"Rain, rain, go away.  Come again another day..." so I can stay dry while heading out to look for food from a truck.  The rainy day, combined with what seems like a whole lotta trucks in the shop, made for a light selection of trucks out and about today.  Luckily, Kimchi BBQ Taco had quietly pulled in to Farragut Square for a soft opening.  The attractive truck is serving the widest variety of Korean food to date from a truck in DC:

I'm trying to decide between 3 & 3.5 honks, but will be generous on their first day out.  Plus, if Yellow Vendor, AZNeats, and this guy were lined up in front of me, Kimchi BBQ wins, so I suppose it makes sense to drop them in at 3.5 honks in the review (with pic) in the first post:
Kimchi BBQ Taco (@KimchiBBQ on Twitter) -- First meal on their first day and pretty decent... It took forever, although they weren't really ready yet to take orders (at 11:53!) and ordering was challenged by the horrendously loud noises the various power generating devices created.  (A regular portable generator sitting outside, the running truck, plus something else involved with their propane tank under the truck I think.)  BUT, the food worked.  For $8, I got a bulgogi box (Kogi) which came with a scoop of white rice, a salad, and a choice of two dumplings.  The meat was flavorful and well trimmed. Meanwhile, the pre-packaged pork dumpling was substantially better than the kimchi one though both were in desperate need of some sort of sauce.  Then, like AZNeats, they only had sriracha.  No gochujang, which continues to be a bummer when Korean trucks don't have any on board.  However, a notable highlight was the salad dressing.  It's a traditional Asian-style miso dressing done quite well.  There are plenty of other interesting options available on the menu, so I'll be back to check them out soon; hopefully whatever I order will come with a salad so I can get some more of that delicious dressing.

Grateful & Content

During the short week last week, I visited four of my 4-honkers to enjoy some of my favorite truck foods in a week dedicated to giving thanks: Hula Girl, Pi, Fojol of Merlindia, and Far East Taco Grill.  In addition, I was able to finally make it to PORC on Monday for a couple of side dishes for sampling.  My first review with photos for PORC has been included in the first post under 3.5 honks, with photos:
PORC (@porcmobile on Twitter) -- After a long wait, I finally visited PORC for a couple of sides to my Hula Girl steak sandwich during Thanksgiving week.  When I head to a lunch spot on any given day, it is not unusual for me to grab food from several trucks so I can bring some chow home for snaking.  If it is a new-to-me truck, I'll usually sample everything while it's hot/fresh, and then pack up the rest for later.  So on this day, I ordered some mac & cheese along with some spicy 3-bean chili with hatch chile-chicken sausage from Simply Sausage.  The first thing I noticed was neither selection was particularly (temperature) hot, both being lukewarm at best in the time it took to walk from Farragut Square to my office a block and a half away; note this has not been a problem in the course of my daily visit(s) to the trucks.  The mac & cheese was enjoyable ... obviously freshly made without too much cheese to weigh it down, although in my opinion the cracked black pepper was substantially in excess.  Next up, the chili, and they weren't joking when they bill it as "spicy".  Served with sour cream and shredded cheese, it really needed to be warmer.  But EUREKA!  I got the ticket!  I brought it home and had the container over two sittings over the Thanksgiving break.  Scrape the huge dollop of sour cream and cheese off the top, scoop out some chili, heat it up, and re-top with sour+cheese.  YUMMY!  Nice (spicy) heat.  Kick ass sausage.  Satisfying beans.  Perfect for a chilly day.  (Pun intended.)  ;-)  Totally worth 3.5 honks.  One last comment on this chili to the guy serving it up on the truck: provided the chili is actually temperature-hot, top with the cheese first, rather than the sour cream, so it's ooey-gooey melty.  Thank you.
The other thing I sampled last week was the Haupia from Hula Girl, a coconut pudding topped with toasted coconut and macadamias.  I love, love, love coconut, but this didn't work for me.  The texture probably was exactly what it is supposed to be, but just wasn't my thing.

Sorry for the delinquent post.  Thinking about what's for lunch today now....

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mess #1 and Mess #2

So many choices to choose from at today's Farragut Friday, although I nearly made the trek over to Franklin to get a taste of the new Shawarma truck and to pick-up some bacon BBQ meatloaf for the weekend.  Instead, I stuck around my local spot to once again try Far East Taco Grill and to finally try Carnivore BBQ.

While I was away I noticed FETG was serving up tacos "dirty style" but then just as quickly stopped serving them because of the time it took to make them.  Since service can sometimes be slow there anyway, that was probably a good idea, although they really should figure out a way to expedite because, if you haven't had it yet, y'all are missing out on a treat.  I arrived very early for lunch today, and without a crowd they were willing to hook me up for an extra $2 total for all 3 tacos.  What is dirty style?  They take your complete order per taco, slaw, sauce(s) and all, and grill it an extra minute or two with cheese for an ooey-gooey mess.

The owner asked me to let him know what I thought, so here it is: flavor is great, although I would leave the slaw off the grill and top the tacos after if for no other reason is it keeps some of the crunch.  Plus, I think most of the cilantro is lost being served like this, so either use more, or keep that for post-grilling too.  But, you're still serving up some of the best tacos in town!  (After my experience this week, Chupacabra is the only taco competition, but they're obviously serving up something different than you guys.)  An update and a photo of my dirty style tacos have been appended to the prior review, still under 4 honks:
Far East Taco Grill (@FarEastTG on Twitter) -- When I first saw the menu for Far East a few weeks ago, my immediate reaction was "wow, that's exactly what TaKorean serves," but I also was plainly aware of the (now) hoards of halal/kabob trucks roaming DC's streets which all seem to survive, so maybe not such a big deal.  It took a very long time to get served, and when I got my order it was wrong.  But after I finally dug in, I was quite content: marinated & grilled chicken and beef, with a choice of 4 slaw options, options for chopped onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, and a lime crema, plus a choice of 4 additional sauces.  THAT is what gets 'em to 4 honks!  Besides the proteins being juicy and flavorful, the sauces rock, even including the lime crema!  I particularly enjoyed the pineapple sauce although I wish there was also a spicy pineapple sauce to choose from, or at least if I could have sriracha AND pineapple rather than one or the other.  (I'll ask next time.)  Even the kimchi slaw option is better here than TaKorean in my opinion.  3 tacos for $8 is a buck cheaper, but was the starting price when the blue guy started out too, so I wouldn't be surprised if that changed.  Really nice job guys.  Giving you the benefit of doubt that it was one of your first couple of days and service will improve, so 4 honks!  UPDATE (18Nov):  It's been a little while.  There is now a pork option and the pineapple sauce is gone having been replaced by some sort of sesame sauce.  Total bummer, because that pineapple sauce was da bomb.  (I didn't try the new sauce.)  If you have an opportunity to hit this truck when there's no line, fork over an extra $2 and ask for your tacos "dirty style" -- don't ask, just do.  I promise you'll love it, but for real, they won't do it for you if there's a line.
Next stop, Carnivore BBQ.  Now I know there is always a HUGE line for this truck, but after my first experience, I'm guessing it's because they serve arguably the best deal in terms of pounds of food per dollar.  I ordered the pork and got an enormous tray filled with a split roll "stuffed" with pulled pork, 3 sauces, and slaw; I can't even call it a sandwich... My unfortunate review is posted under 2.5 honks, along with a picture:
Carnivore BBQ (@carnbbq on Twitter) -- You'll definitely get a lot of food for your dollar at Carnivore BBQ, but will you enjoy it?  For me, not so much.  I found the pork both dry and excessively fatty, as hard as that is to do.  When I was asked about what sauce(s) I wanted, there were plenty to choose from, so I just asked for it to be spicy which ended up meaning 3 sauces topped the meat.  Maybe a mistake was made since the bottles weren't marked but one of them was cloyingly sweet with some strange tang.  The slaw was ok, although it didn't have a particularly "bright" color you'd like to hope for in a fresh slaw.  I'm sorry, but I won't be rushing back.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Talking about balancing the scores

Yesterday I mentioned if the only thing I ate from Chupacabre was the turkey taco, they'd be at 4 honks, but I wanted to balance my rating based on all the selections from the menu I had an opportunity to try.  So, to be fair, similarly, if the jerk chicken cheesesteak is the only thing I'd ever had from Goode's Mobile Kitchen, they'd totally be at 4 honks too.  That cheesesteak is to die for.  Just sayin'....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kaiser Soze

Finally back from vacation and I stumbled upon the new truck Chupacabra at Farragut today, while I had totally been planning on grabbing a BB from Fojol of Benethopia.  WOW!  I was giggling I was so satisfied after enjoying one of my selections, and when a co-worker came in to my office to discuss a problem, all I could say was "Chupacabra".  She said "Huh?" and I repeated "Chupacabra" for a couple of go-rounds.  (I'm really not joking, and afterwards I thought the exchange reminded of a scene from Usual Suspects...)  Plus, I know I'm sounding like a broken record again, but kudos to the owner who was warm and engaging.  The review and photos have been added to the first blog entry under 3.5 honks:
Chupacabra Taqueria (@chupacabraDC on Twitter) -- A kick-ass logo to go with a (mostly) kick-ass new truck!  Serving a variety of both classic and not-so-classic tacos, I ordered 3 with an order of posole soup on the side for a nice warm up on a rainy day.  First up, the traditional "Al Pastor" with pork & grilled pineapple.  The tortilla made this next to impossible to eat for it fell apart with the first bite, but the flavor was authentic ... just like I got from a street vendor last time I was in Mexico.  Next, the pot roast taco, and while this one was also quite difficult to eat, it almost wasn't worth the effort.  I LOVE pot roast, but I think it may just not work in a taco -- it was too soft, too wet, and needed more flavor.  Then the heaven's parted as I dug in to my final selection, dubbed the chupagobbler.  It was a whole, perfect Thanksgiving meal in a couple of bites, which surprisingly didn't fall apart like the others.  Roasted turkey, cumin gravy, garden sage stuffing, and a cranberry pineapple compote.  OMG!  Had I gotten only these tacos, we'd be at 4 honks, however I feel I've got to average my total experience out.  The soup had rice instead of hominy due to a delivery problem, explained upon ordering.  Although it wasn't particularly (temperature) hot, the flavor was nice, and the avocado added a perfect creaminess.  When the hominy is added, I imagine I'll be dining on the posole frequently as the winter goes on.  Everything was served with cilantro and finely chopped onions along with shaved radish, which is a nice change from the more conventional shredded cabbage.  They also offer a salsa bar with a variety of fresh selections to doctor up your order.
Just before leaving for this last trip, I was able to try Kabob Bites again, but didn't have the time to update the post.  Unfortunately KB remains at 2.5 honks with a photo added and a couple of comments about the buttered chicken.  Bottom line is it is tough to compete with the buttered chicken from Fojol.