Friday, June 29, 2012

Wassup Wassub?

Earlier this week I had an opportunity to try Wassub Asian fusion sandwiches.  I actually intended to try Phonation but quickly learned Rachel is preparing pho in the same way she did for the month last summer she owned Phonomenon: pre-cooked beef.  You may recall (see bottom under Closed) I thought her broth was awesome but couldn't get past the beef being pre-cooked rather than the more traditional way with thin, raw slices which get cooked by the hot broth.  Pho Junkies is doing it the later way, plus the Junkies have far more protein options yet doesn't have the exceptionally flavored broth.  (At least what it was last year.) 

So instead I grabbed a Sweetie Habanero from Wassub -- a sandwich I'd been wanting to try since I realized it had pineapple.  What's the good, the bad, and the ugly?  Let's go backwards.  The ugly: unfortunately, I think that pineapple I was excited about was canned, plus I could only find a couple small chunks.  Please use fresh to avoid that "tin-y" taste.  The bad: ok, so maybe it's not bad bad, but the "Why Wassub is better than sex" poster is full of lame jokes which may not be appropriate for the population en masse.  I think I have a reasonably decent sense of humor and definitely know how to tell a raunchy joke (in the right setting) so guess I just don't get why it's there.  Next, the good: the roasted chicken was adequately moist and it was well complimented by the ham and cheese.  And the roll, while not particularly unique, was fresh and light.  Now, the really good: Hottie Sauce!  When I asked for extra, the guy at the window gave me a look and cautioned me, "It's really hot, so be careful."  I didn't personally find it as hot as I think he thought it was, but it had great flavor and really brought the sub all together.  An orange colored, slightly creamy blend of a little sweet and a nice bit of heat.  Without the sauce, this would have been a 2.5-3 honker, but as served the sub worked at 3.5 honks.  Even though I'd passed by this truck many times previously, I'll for sure be back soon.  As a note to the proprietors, I would be very excited if the contents of this sub were put in a bowl as a salad for I think that hottie sauce would make a really interesting salad dressing. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Acai & Lemongrass

Second day out after a miss yesterday and a near miss today, but I was able to find the new truck Mighty Dog & Acai at Farragut Square earlier to grab an order of their namesake dog.  Really pleasant folks who are very interested in doing their best to accommodate you, but there are a couple things I don't understand here.  The only menu they have (which did appear to be magnetic, so it could be attached to the side of the truck) was being physically held up by a woman standing on the SW corner of the square.  She came over to the truck and stood kind of near it when I wanted to place my order, but even then, trying to show it off to other folks, it swayed and moved, making it difficult to read the fairly small print.  I get she was probably there to generate some foot traffic for the unknown truck, but they desperately need a menu actually attached to the truck that you can look at when ordering.  Buzz needs to be generated another way or with a second sign.

Next, I don't get the price.  It was good with some unique flavors, but $7 for a condimented-up Nathan's hot dog (with cheese in the case of my Mighty Dog) seems pretty steep, especially considering other trucks are serving homemade or artisanal sausages for the same price.  The bread was quite nice and the package of goodies (mashed potato spread and our special “Mighty” sauce, topped with  pico de gallo vinaigrette, ketchup/mustard, kernel corn, Brazilian soft cheese and crowned with tiny fried potato sticks) was pressed to serve.  All the photos came out really poorly, but at least you can get the gist of what to expect, including the amount of filling.  2 for $12, which was also being offered, is closer to a fair price, even with the understanding it is coming from a gourmet food truck, but I'd be challenged to pay $7 again despite enjoying my Mighty Dog.  (Note, other menu options had an additional protein topping the hot dog, so perhaps those should be priced higher than the 'Brazilian Mighty'.)  I'd give them 3.5 honks, but the price really bothers me, so....

As an update to a prior post about Lemongrass truck and my very "chilled" chicken, I was able to catch up with them during a re-visit to National Geographic last week for a pork salad.  The meat was juicy and warm, tasting like tender BBQ pork but without the sauce.  Just a lovely salad, especially that awesome homemade lemongrass dressing that I can't wait to buy in a bottle.  3.5 honks, right where they should be.  And it sounds like we'll be seeing more of them with their second truck starting in DC.

Meanwhile, my love affair with Cirque Cuisine continues, that is when they actually visit Farragut Square for which I had to make a special request to make it happen this week.  So today I grabbed two of the three offerings: Spice rubbed pork tenderloin with cabbage & jicama slaw and a shrimp-grilled pineapple salad.  Both came along side saffron rice, black beans, and a fruit-based salsa, which all certainly pleased, but what remains so impressive about this truck besides quality is value.  While $12 and $14 may seem on the steep side (particularly just after my rant about Mighty Dog) but the pork dish came with 1/2 of a whole tenderloin and the shrimp dish had 6 HUGE shrimp.  Plus we know Chef Jess is using local, organic ingredients.  It's a matter of perspective and frankly, I get it at Cirque Cuisine but don't with the hot dog at Mighty Dog.  Sorry guys.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chasing a Moving Target

Since Chef Driven changes his menu so frequently, it is hard to catch some of the items folks (myself included) have reviewed in various articles, blog posts, and other publications before they go bye-bye in favor of something else.  The good news is, some items occasionally slip back on the menu for a spell, although usually with a minor tweak or two.  And yesterday, sporting a nearly all new menu, I took the opportunity to sample two more selections before they go away: spinach gazpacho and pork sliders.  

Similar to what I said recently about Chef Jess over at Cirque Cuisine, Chef Jerry appears to be seconding the philosophy of inadvertently getting me to eat more vegetables by producing freakin' amazing concoctions, and today it was with the spinach gazpacho.  Think of it akin to pesto, but a thinner, more pureed texture and not oily like pesto can be.  I could totally get used to eating more vegetables if they're all done as yummy as this!

After downing my sample of the chilled soup, I received my order of sliders and salad.  The two generous mini-sandwiches of herb roasted pork topped with a simple cabbage and carrot slaw and red wine sauce were juicy with a appetizing tang generated by the melding of marinade and sauce.  But in my opinion, the highlight of this order was the corn & microgreen salad -- sweet from the roasted corn, crunch from diced jicama(?), and earthiness from a light sprinkle of truffle.  I'm hoping this is a side that doesn't go in to hiatus too quickly.  (...or EVER as far as I'm concerned!)  Not that the sliders weren't delicious, but I could easily go for a soup and salad with these offerings.  As always, great job Jerry, and thank you!

Meanwhile, I've made several other re-visits over the last week or so, although most notably to Pho Junkies where I learned the trick is to ask for extra sauce, since it doesn't seem like they are going to abandon the plan of pre-packaged sauces.  This time I ended up with two of the sriracha-laced hoisin packs, plus a smaller sriracha-only cup and I was much happier with my "doctoring" of the pho.  However, as promised, this time I did order the shrimp rolls, and let's just say I'd suggest sticking with the spring rolls: inside the perfectly crispy wrappers, the shrimp came out WAYYY over cooked.

Another truck I've visited twice in the last two weeks in Rolls on Rolls.  No surprise to some, it seems I become easily obsessed, because after my return about a month ago where I discovered the kathie rolls had substantially improved and they had become a truck who really knows how to serve up the spicy in their food, I can't seem to stay away.  However last week as I sat in my office enjoying my roll, I had four people standing in my doorway by the end thinking something salacious was going on due my "panting" from the heat.  I quite enjoyed the roll, but let's just say it's a good thing the office was pretty vacant at the time and was populated with friends who aren't easily offended.  Thus, when I went yesterday (in the rain so I for sure had to eat at my desk,) I asked for something "between medium and spicy" -- I was offered "medium-plus".  PERFECT!  Thank you, and I'll be seeing you again soon!

Finally, scheduled for posting later today, my latest Eat Street blog post will profile Cirque Cuisine, where "the food is so good it will knock your socks off."  (Inside joke you will all soon be privy to.  I will link to it when it's live.)  UPDATE: Here's the link.

Happy Eating...!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Another week coming to an end

And while I'm looking forward to hitting Farragut Friday in a couple of hours, on Wednesday I met my prior record of 5 trucks in a single day again: Sate Indonesian Food, Souvlaki Stop, Stella's, Captain Cookie, and Sinplicity.  I won't go in to Stella's or Sinplicity as I've discussed both many times, and will start with my first stop, Sate.  

Two options for sate, chicken or beef (or combo) served with rice and vegetables and Mie Ayam which is described as egg noodles, sesame sauce, chicken, oyster mushrooms, bok choy, and crispy wontons.  Realizing I would be also ordering a beef-something from Souvlaki Stop, I opted to go with the chicken sate.  While preparing the order, one of the two gentlemen on the truck asked if I liked spicy.  When I replied affirmatively, they filled my container with "spicy rice" instead of white rice.  Four skewers of reasonably grilled chicken topped the rice, along with a really tempting, moderately peanut-ty sauce.  On the other hand, the vegetables are described as a stew and they really meant it.  Really mushy carrots, onions, and string beans were also cooked with potatoes (or maybe turnips/rutabagas) but the starch component had broken down to the point it dissolved, making it indistinguishable.  $8.  3.5 honks.  No Twitter yet, but more than some of the other vendors who say they will get on Twitter, I kind of believe these guys.

Rather than going for the platter as I normally would if it were the only lunch I planned to enjoy, I went for a Greek salad from Souvlaki Stop, with beef souvlaki.  Even though I ended up bringing the salad home and ate it for dinner, I did sample the components as served.  It's interesting... I actually preferred everything at dinner far more than the lunchtime sampling.  During the day when I tried the beef, while the meat was heavily seasoned, I found it quite dry.  Later that evening, the (at that point) chilled beef worked nicely against the feta and other components.  The menu has both a green salad ($4) and a Greek ($6) listed, and both are available with a protein for $2 more.  Looking forward to the feta along with the typical herb-heavy oil and vinegar dressing, I asked for the Greek salad, but was disappointed to find a creamy Italian-ish blended dressing.  So, when I ate the salad, I instead dolloped the provided yogurt-based tzatziki sauce, which worked nicely other than being way too thick for that purpose.  I'll go for 3.5 honks on them too.

Later in the afternoon, Captain Cookie and the Milkman truck made its way to Farragut for the later part of lunch service, so I made a quick trip between meetings and ordered two cookies with milk ($4) from the varied options including made-to-order ice cream sandwiches, not too dissimilar from what Scoops2U offers.  Both cookies were soft and the ginger molasses fit the bill perfectly, but between my friend and I we could find only 3 chocolate chips in my entire chocolate chip cookie (maybe 3-3.5" in diameter, for perspective,) and frankly that cookie needed more of that creaminess running through it.  (If you click the photo to the right to blow it up and see the bottom of the lower cookie, you can see no chocolate.)  On a separate note, the size of the milk jug was unexpected to a benefit of 4 ounces.  Well priced menu and owners who are anxious to please.  A trifecta for 3.5 honks.

BTW -- Can I just mention how, at this point, it is nearly a daily occurrence I walk up to Farragut Square where there is another new truck?  Even when I look at the map, if there's nothing that I'm necessarily in the mood for, I am confident I can go and find either a new truck, or at least one from the Shame List.

Off to Farragut Friday soon...