Friday, December 16, 2011

Battle of the cheesesteaks!

As the year is coming to an end, and my remaining days at work even more quickly, I've spent much of the week enjoying my go-to favorite offerings from the trucks, even when I had holiday parties to attend where food was being served.  This included stops at Red Hook, Dorothy Moon, Hula Girl, Goode's, and BBQ Bus at Uncurbed, plus I'll be trying to make it to Far East Taco Grill before I'm done for the year midday Wednesday.  But today, in addition to my 1-day tardy hook-up with my jerk chicken cheesesteak from Goode's, I decided to battle it against the new cheesesteak offerings coming from Korean truck, AZN Eats.  I mean, if it's not going to be Philly style, why shouldn't a Caribbean cheesesteak be matched against a Korean one...? %-)  Goode's is tough to beat, although AZN was a formidable competitor, allowing for a rating bump from 3 to 3.5 honks in the updated review:
AZN Eats (@azneats on Twitter) -- UPDATE (16Dec): A few weeks ago AZN Eats announced they were going to start serving cheesesteaks using the beef options on their menu and I thought, "Now there's an idea!"  How can you go wrong with long marinated beef making out with some cheese wrapped in a sub roll?  And AZN Eats didn't.  Exactly what you'd expect, with Kalbi being served for $8 and bulgogi for $7, with provolone and cabbage, although I asked for no cabbage.  I doused it with the "AZN Spicy Sauce" then thoroughly enjoyed the fusion offering.  Other than the fact there was too much roll (see the pic,) the sandwich is enough to elevate AZN from 3 to 3.5 honks.

In cart news if you missed it earlier this week, District Taco announced they are opening a second brick and mortar in the first few months of 2012, this time in Metro Center, so District Taco will finally be in the District.

BTW -- It was awesome to see EVERY SINGLE SPACE at Farragut Square occupied by a food truck today.  Have a good weekend everyone!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lasagna Plus...?

I'm sitting here trying to figure out what to say about the new lasagna truck which started almost two weeks ago but doesn't yet have a twitter account.  Ironically most of us first learned of this truck from Brian at Basil Thyme.  Both trucks serve basically the same thing for the same price -- several varieties of lasagna for $8 on their own, or $10 as a meal which comes with a drink & dessert.  The differences in the meal?  Brian has fresh desserts and a nice "garlic crouton" on the salad (think a thick slice of french bread with garlic seasoning with a slight toast on it) whereas the new guy serves a single serving pre-pack of Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies and gives two thin mass produced breadsticks.

Now, for the differences in the lasagna... recall I actually really like Basil Thyme's lasagna but am totally put off by Brian's obsession with "we serve in less than 60 seconds and others don't" attitude because (1) for the most part the "others don't" sentiment isn't true, and (2) how hard is it to serve a slice of lasagna from a tray made earlier in the day?  Anyway, Lasagna Plus' serving (which arrived in less than 30 seconds, btw) wasn't as light as Basil Thyme's.  The sheets of pasta were probably fresh but weren't as perfectly delicate and/or were slightly overcooked.  While the lasagna could have used more seasoning and fresh flavors, overall it still tasted reasonably good.  I swear, despite what I'm about to say!  However there was something going on with the cheese I can't put my finger quite on, thus, why I'm perplexed about what to think about it.  It wasn't bad; it was just odd.  I hesitate to toss in a word like "gummy" because of the connotation, but the texture in my mouth was kind of that.  And not every bite either.  Maybe it was just too much cheese in certain spots among the layers and they congealed when it cooled down.  I really don't know.  3 honks is a reasonable score until I can figure this out....

Uncurbed, but not unfortunate

In fact I was quite fortunate to be invited to the opening night of Uncurbed DC.  We were early to arrive, and sadly early to leave with a long drive ahead of us, but I was so pleased to have participated at all.  Tadd & Che transformed an upstairs apartment in Georgetown into their own mini-restaurant with personal touches, including a fully decorated Christmas tree next to a fireplace.

Small tables in a number of rooms were covered with paper and stocked with #3, #5, and #24 sauces along with plastic-ware and napkins.  In addition, over the last few days they were able to get permission to serve alcohol, so several beer & wine selections were available to wash down the mouthwatering Q.  While Tadd worked the truck and general goings-on outside, Che played the very gracious host inside.  (Although I can't say which locale was warmer because inside the house was pretty freakin' chilly, despite a couple of small space heaters -- it is an old, vacant townhouse in Georgetown, afterall.  Insulation and caulk easily were more of an afterthought, back in the day...)

I suspect most of the festivities (or enjoyable havoc?) caused by the invitee-only guest list might have occurred after our departure as I saw a number of posts from other truckers come in throughout the evening, particularly if DCSlices was tending bar.  HereHereHere.  And here.  Plus I know others were there quietly showing some support as well:
I can't say how excited I am for BBQ Bus to be blazing the way for the next gen of pop-up dining experiences.  Even according to the invite, as far as anyone knows, this was the first such event in the country.  Who says DC doesn't have a serious food scene?  Bleh!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rain & Protesters

Persistent rain and pesky Occupy protesters clogging downtown kept a whole lot of trucks off the road today so the options seemed quite few going in to my lunchtime.  Luckily I was running late because a (relatively) late tweet from Dorothy Moon had me out the door in a split second.  Fourth day out and already running pretty efficiently.  Their Facebook page advertises a pretty extensive burger menu so I don't know if it is because they are so new and are just trying to feel things out, or if maybe the rain, and therefore lighter demand, caused a stunted menu but the offerings were pretty simple: $6 for a single, $7 for a double.  You could select as many toppings as you wanted for the inclusive price, including bacon, 3 kinds of cheese, an egg, several sauces & condiments, plus a bunch of vegetables.  The review and photo are published under 4 honks:
Dorothy Moon's Gourmet Burgers (@DorothyMoon1 on Twitter) -- Nearly two months ago I mused, for a town that LOVES its burgers, we didn't have a truck serving up any.  Alas, that is no more because we now have exactly that: an amazing burger truck!  Cooked to order, reasonably priced, and good service, particularly for a group who's only been serving for 4 days.  They'll put whatever they've got on the truck on your 1/4# (pre-cook weight) burger with soft bun, and the selection is pretty decent, although they will only cook it medium-well; I asked for mid-rare.  All was fine though ... the burger was perfectly juicy despite being only slightly pink.  I may have said this before and even meant it, but I had to have broken a new record with exactly how quickly I inhaled my double burger it was so good.  Provided the all-around quality stays high, Dorothy Moon will quickly have a large and loyal following, however at some point the menu will probably need to expand past simply a single and a double.
BTW -- Sorry for the quality of the photos.  For some reason my iPhone has been having issues with the camera for the last few days.

My office's holiday party is coming up, and I think I might have convinced the organizer to get the food from trucks.  If we can work out the logistics, I'll start reaching out tomorrow to some folks about options.  I've managed to convince a bunch of folks in the office truck food is great, but I want to get them all anxious to try the constantly evolving menu roaming the city each day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

If only the guys from BBQ Bus would switch teams

...then I could marry one, have his adorable babies, and always be well fed!  OK, well not really but you all know by now about my love affair with BBQ Bus.  (Besides the fact I'm a girl, they probably wouldn't want me anyway since I had Che and Tadd confused for one another.  Sorry guys for the prior confusion, but Che was always responding to my tweets and blog posts, yet Tadd was at the window knowing everything about them.)  :-o

Anyway, free lunch was being offered at work today as a part of a conference I'm participating in, but the Guinness beef stew with fire-roasted corn was calling my name 5 blocks (sans umbrella) through the rain.  It was obviously cooked low and slow because any alcohol taste of the beer was totally gone leaving just a rich and creamy medley with tomatoes and onions.  Piled on white basmati rice with a generic roll on the side, I did find it was better with hot sauce when I got back to work.  Had I known while I was still at the truck, I would have doused it with some #24 sauce which I snuck a taste of while I was waiting.  Believe the advertisement of "tangy with a KICK"; it would have been a perfect accompaniment for a little extra punch.  Then there was the fire-roasted corn, which needed no improvement at all.

I took a photo to include but it came out particularly poorly.  As a perfect winter-warmer, I'm sure I'll have another chance soon to snap another.  You guys have really elevated yourselves to truly be one of my favorite DC food trucks.  Until next time.... 

For the rest of the dish on BBQ Bus, don't forget to check out the first blog post here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The worst yet

I am a genuine lover of food trucks and generally try to give the benefit of the doubt, particularly in scoring.  Today's review will follow suit with a generous score of 1 honk for DC Shawarma.  And it's really too bad because I was looking forward to it, even mentioning on the 18th of November I was considering a long trek just to try it as I love shawarma.  See the review and another photo in the first post:
DC Shawarma (@dcshawarma on Twitter) -- Normally I'm willing to give any truck a second try, but unless something substantially changes, I won't even take that chance on one of the newer trucks roaming the streets of DC.  DC Shawarma serves exactly what you'd think, chicken or beef+lamb shawarma's and falafels, all either over rice as a platter or in a pita.  I ordered the chicken sandwich; I can't even say "I had the chicken sandwich" because after 2 bites, it was in the trash.  It was terribly dry to the point it was chalky tasting.  The not-totally-burned pieces were equally dehydrated, and the rest of the accompaniments ("salad", tahini, garlic sauce) didn't help either.  1/2 honk awarded for the garlic sauce and 1/2 for putting themselves out there at all, for that alone takes some guts.
I normally take my photos before digging in to my meal, but after I doing so in this case, I took another to illustrate what I am trying to say:

It can't be because the chicken was sitting on the grill all day because we were there at about 11:25.  It could be they're serving meat from another day, although I would find that pretty hard to believe.  I just can't come up with an explanation about how perfectly good chicken got so overdone.

Kimchi BBQ Taco was back at Farragut today too, and I found the menu so intriguing the other day, I went back to try something else.  This time I got a K-Town hot dog.  The following update is appended to the original review with an additional photo:
Kimchi BBQ Taco UPDATE (1Dec): Only a few days out, but still in desperate need of organization and another set of hands.  A K-Town hot dog took 20 minutes at 11:40am with only one other order placed ahead of mine.  Call it a Korean chili dog or something... this was pretty good.  Bulgogi and a choice of kimchi topped a Nathan's Famous hot dog in a toasted sub roll.  I got some gochujang to spice it up, (BIG YAY for getting some out there!) but forgot to top it by the time I got back to the office and inhaled the dog.  Next time I'll choose a different kimchi because the "sweet-n-spicy radish kimchi," which looked like a spiced up version of (one of my faves) pickled carrot & daikon, doesn't really come together like it should.  Sticking at 3.5 honks, but will start heading down if service (time) doesn't improve.
Only 11 more days of work in 2011, and with some holiday parties mixed in, I feel the year closing quickly for me and my truck friends.  See y'all next week!