Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back from 2 vacations

Unfortunately they were both pretty short.  When I have actually been around over the last few weeks, I've been enjoying returns to some of my favorite trucks while sampling new-to-me items peppered in between.  Headlines in no particular order:

Kimchi BBQ Taco expanded it's 'Torta' offerings
I hadn't had a sandwich previously from KBT, but wanted a snack for later in the day while I was grabbing lunch last week and saw a 1/2 torta advertised for $6.  Sold!  I'm not sure what a full torta would look like because this was a relatively large portion, making it a fantastic deal at its price-point.  Of course I ordered it with my favorite protein, the spicy pork, and it's described as being served with a choice of two kimchi/slaw options, although it also came with shredded lettuce, sliced avocado, seasoned mayo, and more.  I also asked for some of the spicy special sauce for which I was cautioned by the owner that it was "really spicy".  Eh, I dunno about that, though my sandwich was delicious, even when consuming substantially later than I'd planned.

Badabing visits the District twice in one week
Badabing, an Arlington truck famous for serving spiedies and cheesesteak subs, found themselves in DC for both an "Arlington Invasion" at the Fairgrounds on the 8th, and again for Truckeroo on the 10th.  Braving the occasional sprinkles of rain, I was able to make Truckeroo for a beer and a cheesesteak "wiz-wit" (or maybe it's "wit-wiz" -- I don't have the Philly lingo down.)  Anyway, the wiz obviously refers to the cheese-product I was ordering, trying to be authentic, and the "wit" acknowledges I wanted grilled onions in my sub.  To be clear, I've been looking forward to trying this truck for probably a year and this was the first practical opportunity I had to try it out.  The steak was certainly fresh, as were the pillow-y soft rolls, but I didn't love the sub and I am not sure why.  The best I can come up with is that the steak was so fresh and soaked in to the bread so easily, it was too juicy making for kind of a sloppy situation.  3 honks.

Rito Loco launches
...and didn't do their research on Farragut Friday before making an attempt to make it on to the Square on their first Friday out.  Too bad for them, they ended up across the street on the west side -- not even the back-up spot in front of Subway on the east side.  They are happy to explain to you they serve un-traditional burritos without beans or rice which are grill-pressed before serving.  $8 for one, which did in fact come packed with nearly all meat in my "mojito rito" filled with marinated, perfectly shredded chicken and little pico + cheese.  The chicken boasted huge flavor and was well accompanied by a blend of the two sauces available on the counter.  I've gotta say, I was a little surprised how much I liked the food given I didn't immediately have a great impression when I walked up due to a whole bunch of minor things, but when combined became noticeable: (1) a handful of steps away from the truck one of the employees was smoking as I walked by (see review of El Floridano,) (2) there seemed to be a relatively large quantity of truck staff in and circling the truck with kind of a bit of chaos-feel, (3) there was no menu posted and when it did come out there were no prices, (4) the staff came off a little smarmy, etc.  Despite all that, I'll be back as soon as they come back by my geography for the "unconventional" burrito was really good.  3.5 honks.

Ball or Nothing brings back wild boar
I want to love this truck a lot, and I just can't get there.  The first time there was something off about some of the flavors, and with my second visit, while I was able to get the boar I had been interested in trying, the sides didn't work.  I ordered the marscapone polenta again thinking that would be a no brainer, but it definitely didn't have the same lusciousness as before.  Then the mac & cheese I ordered was, not only cold for both myself and some friends who came back with some about an hour later, another funky flavor was detected here as well, like the dressing last time.  It was almost as if white wine was used in the cheese sauce where the alcohol didn't cook off leaving unpleasantness behind.  The meatballs were fine, topped with a basil pesto which helped a bit, yet I don't see myself rushing back, particularly not for 3 meatballs with fair-at-best sides for $10.  Moving to 2.5 honks.

More drive at Chef Driven
I know I mention this truck a lot relative to other trucks but if you consider there is something different to try every single time I visit the truck, each comment is to mention new menu items (which is the same as I do when I try something new at other trucks.)  With a menu proffered every 3-5 days, by the time I post something at this point, whatever the new item was may be gone.  Luckily, a number of previous items do come back for occasional cameo appearances, so as I try something, I do at least try to mention it.  Last week it was chipotle braised pork tacos served with a garlic aioli, avocado, and cilantro.  I couldn't stuff these bad boys in my mouth fast enough, which wasn't difficult since the taco and fillings combined to a texturally soft offering that was granted better balance simply some fresh chopped green onions.  Even if you don't love spicy food, don't let the word "chipotle" scare you off because they don't have much heat.  Jerry, thanks, as always.  Another winner!

Other tidbits

  • The Serrano-style ham from Surry, Virginia being served from Chef Driven's truck is amazing.  Who knew Virginians could cure ham for 400+ days and make it yummy like its Spanish cousin?  If he's got something on the menu with the Surry ham, you should think about trying it.
  • My friend ordered a trio of empanadas the other day from the Something Stuffed truck.  I personally haven't made it over there yet, but I sampled her chicken and beef selections and would go back on purpose to order the beef.
  • The Sate Truck now seems to be carrying a few more menu items, including toting of both coconut and spicy rice options rather than one at a time.  I actually asked for both with my combo and after tasting side-by-side I decided I prefer the spicy.
  • Other go-to favorites recently enjoyed over the last few weeks include: lemongrass chicken lettuce wraps from What the Pho?, corn fritters from Tapas Truck, churrasco sandwich from Borinquen Lunch Box, grilled chicken pho from Phonation, fish tacos from Surfside, and more.