Friday, September 9, 2011

The highly anticipated return of Hula to Farrugut

As many folks have noticed, Hula Girl truck hasn't been around to Farrugut for a while. While Farrugut is a very popular stop of just about every other truck, by my count I think this was only the third visit since premiering in July, and the second service never actually happened due to an accident just as they were about to open. We've been wondering what Hula has against us (more on that later) but alas, she finally returned for a soggy Farrugut Friday.

Let me start by saying I really, really like this truck, so much that I've been among the first few folks in line with each of the three visits. However, there are issues. I don't know if they are not prepping enough in whatever commercial kitchen they are using or something else is going on, but it takes forever for the window to open, more than I've noticed from any other truck. I think some combo of more prep elsewhere and/or arriving earlier would greatly benefit Hula so they can open the window closer to the (average) 11:30am the other trucks usually adhere to. This issue was evident for each of the three visits I've been present for. And waiting 30 minutes in a steady rain was not so enjoyable today, plus a good 4-5 minutes for my food after ordering.

Next. I think this truck must be cursed. Farrugut visit #1: flat tire & blown generator. Farrugut visit #2: "surfer boy" suffered a fall resulting in mega-stitches in his face seconds before the window was to open. (Sorry, btw! Looked today like you are feeling better, so I'm glad about that.) Farrugut visit #3: delayed by a day because the truck was in an accident. Plus the power seems to only stay on for a couple of minutes at a time. (Multiple visits!) It's only been about 6 weeks since Hula started trolling the DC streets, but the very cute truck is starting to look pretty beat up ... The door meant to cover the serving window is missing, as is the "trim cover" to one of the speakers, and at one point the cover for the generator door was also missing but may have been replaced by now. (Didn't look this time.) I don't know if other spots around the city carry better juju for Makala, but could this be why Farrugut gets so little Hula love...? :-/

Now, the good stuff. The food is delicious. High quality. Ample portions. Sort of a "mix & match" type creative menu which I definitely enjoy. It isn't huge, but it would be easy to get something different each time with 5 or 6 visits. Plus, the people are very nice. I hope they decide to come back more frequently than they've been coming this way.

Despite issues, it stays at 4 honks for the food with the updated review below:
Hula Girl Truck (@hulagirltruck on Twitter) -- Second in line for the premiere at Farrugut Square and I was not disappointed. I did have a couple of issues, but the flavor of the sandwich truly made up for any detractions. I ordered the teriyaki skirt steak sandwich. The steak was VERY generous (2 small steaks on one serving) and perfectly flavorful, without being salty as teriyaki can be. Toppings were equally generous and well seasoned, especially the carrot+daikon slaw. So, what were my issues? The bread is advertised as "crunchy ciabatta". It was not crunchy by any stretch of the imagination and there actually was too much crumb. (AKA the bread-y part.) The second issue was about the steak itself; while it was PERFECTLY cooked to a medium rare, skirt steaks and other similar cuts with that type of marbling are important to eat against the grain so as not to be chewy. Unless the steaks are aligned properly, you are very likely to get excess chew, which I did initially experience. I'm not sure if a quick slice against the grain is an option for when the sandwiches are served, but I note to be aware to "align" your steak(s) prior to diggin' in. (A friend also noted on a chicken sandwich the chicken didn't sit on the bread appropriately either, so some bites had all chicken & nothing else, while some were all vegetables without chicken.)  Can't wait to try something else! This truck is an easy favorite. 4 honks! UPDATE (9Sept): Mikala almost seemed to be boycotting Farrugut Square for weeks but finally returned for a rainy Farrugut Friday. I got the steak lunch plate. The meat was sliced (so no chewy-ness problem,) dressed with a bit of teriyaki, and served with two scoops of rice, mac salad, and a sample of the picked carrot & daikon slaw. Again, I was very satisfied with my meal, but this truck still has issues. (See blog post from 9Sept.) The slaw is awesome ... the whole reason I ordered the sandwich on my first visit. I would have loved to have had more to enjoy with my beef for a little texture & flavor. With this visit I also tried the "pepper water", or at least that's what I think it was called; it is the thin looking orange sauce in an unlabeled bottle on the counter. Whatever it is actually called, if you like hot stuff, GET IT and gently douse your food with it. (Pics below)
For something sweet, with Sidewalk Sweets still out of the picture despite promises to return to DC this week, I visited Sweetbites for a selection of cupcakes. I had been several times before, but today I was impressed with the 12 flavor options to choose from, particularly the salted caramel. The review has been updated along with a picture and Sweetbites has moved from 3 to 3.5 honks! Woohoo!

Earlier this week I made some minor changes to some of the other reviews as I ate at some of the other trucks, and added more pictures. Check it all out.

Happy weekend, folks. Here's to hoping the rain will stop soon.