Monday, April 30, 2012

The VA in the DC!

A private parking lot at National Geographic allowed a couple of Virginia trucks to venture in to the District today: Lemongrass Truck and Doug the Food Dude.  Lucky for me, NatGeo is close enough to my office so I could grab a bite from both.  First up was Doug for a Caribbean Pork over Cabana rice:

Three things struck me right off the bat with is this truck:
  1. there doesn't appear to be a window which physically opens to know whether or not they're serving, (no biggie)
  2. the length far surpasses what's allowed in DC, so I'm not expecting to see them around much except for private events/locations, (too bad) and
  3. the smell coming from the door was insane.
My order was served almost immediately, with an initial reaction of "holy crap that's a lot of rice!"  Beneath the rice I found a thin layer of chopped lettuce and on top there was a mound of finely shredded pork.  I was totally prepared to say this dish needs substantially more pork, particularly at $9, but I did find two pretty good sized pieces a little buried in the rice -- still a wildly disproportionate small quantity compared to the rice, but not nearly as overpriced as I thought it might be.  Having said that, I'd love more of pineapple-mango sauce; I know in the photo it looks like a lot, but once you dig-in, it diminishes quickly.  

So what about the food?  The pork was tender with a gentle spice while the fluffy rice kicked up the heat a tad.  Both complemented the amazing sauce perfectly.  I didn't love the lettuce on the bottom, however, as most of the tender pieces just cooked under all the steaming rice, making for brown, unappetizing leaves.  I'd go back without hesitation and ask for no greens.  3.5 honks.

When Lemongrass was first announced, Food Truck Fiesta suggested this would be a VA & DC truck, and I've been anxiously waiting for a regular DC schedule.  Except for the 2nd Uncurbed, I believe today was the first regular service this side of the Potomac.
Lemongrass' menu offers three proteins with accoutrements in one of 4 forms: in a baguette as a banh mi, in flour tortillas for tacos, on top of thin rice noodles, or on top of greens as a salad.  I flirted with the vermicelli but decided on the salad instead as I gazed at the more than-enough-rice-product I has already been served from Doug.
While the chicken looked flaccid (see pic,) the bigger surprise when I actually began to eat was that it was cold.  I wouldn't have imagined both hot & cold versions of the same item on a truck for different formats, but ok, maybe Lemongrass does exactly that; I will say, if I were to have ordered the tacos and this is what arrived, I would have been terribly disappointed. 

Getting over the look and temperature of the meat, the lemongrass flavor the chicken embodied was acceptable, and the portion of meat was certainly generous at $8 for the large salad.  Other actors in this plate were about what you'd expect: picked veg, cucumber, and green leaf lettuce, plus cilantro.  (Personally I'd love more of the herb, but I may be in the minority on that one.)  With a little sweet, a little tart, and a little tang, the best part was definitely the homemade lemongrass dressing -- I'd pay good money for a bottle of that!!  3 honks, but I'll revisit when DC becomes a regular stop, if for no other reason but that dressing.

UPDATE:  Lemongrass reports the chicken should have been warm.  Many thanks for the clarification, the super-fast response, and the awesome customer service!  I'll be making a prompt visit next time they're back in Washington.

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