October 14, 2011: The Great Vancouver Food Truck Tour!
Sometime between I can’t recall when and recently, the face of the Vancouver food street changed. Whereas, a year ago, Japadog stood head and shoulders amid a see of hot dog vendors, today, a plethora of food truck vendors offer everything from Vietnamese sandwiches to Japanese octopus balls. Suddenly, it’s a veritable United Nations street eats!
In an effort to broaden my street eating horizons, I’ve decided to set aside one afternoon every week to sampling a variety of these new culinary offerings. And so, today, I kicked off the food tour with the help of three disappointingly light-weight eaters. My back-up on this day, there to backstop me in the event I’m unable to finish my meal or require immediate hospitalization:
Armed with my new Vancouver Street Food app that helpfully maps out the locations of the city’s 50+ food trucks, we managed to check out five before running out of steam – and appetite. At this rate, it’ll take us two and a half months to cover them all!
First stop: Arturo’s Mexico 2 Go
Lawren and I both did the Tacotino: Rotisserie pork, lime, and chipotle sauce wrapped in a chica flour tortilla. An original recipe from Puebla, Mexico! Tiny but tasty with a nice pepper kick.
Ashleigh demonstrates true street eating prowess by choosing the cumbersome and unwieldy tortilla soup. She’s had it before though and gives it the thumbs up.
Second stop: Fresh Local Wild
This was the one Ashleigh was most excited about. Turns out she’s a bit of a regular, swinging by once a week to enjoy their fresh produce – and harangue them about making poutine a regular part of their menu.
I couldn’t resist the chicken-fried oyster sandwich and was richly (and crisply) rewarded with probably the best oyster sandwich I’ve had in recent memory. It was Akemi’s favorite menu item of the tour.
While Lawren had a terrific shaved beef sandwich…
Ashleigh had the Tuna Melt. Another fresh and phenomenal sandwich accompanied by home fries with the chef’s sauce. Not quite poutine but delicious nevertheless.
And this was the point when everyone else started to slow down, despite the fact that: 1) Akemi had yet to order anything for herself and only sampled from my dishes, 2) Ashleigh had given me half her Tuna Melt and, b) Lawren’s a guy and should have a guy’s size appetite. Nevertheless, we forged ahead…
Third stop: Slingers
I found the menu somewhat limited in comparison to the last two food trucks, but elected to go with the intriguing veal parmesan sandwich.
The veal is herb battered, fried, then topped with homemade marina sauce and sauteed onions and mushrooms. I found it good but it was hard not to compare it to similar sandwiches I had in Toronto. And, here, Toronto has the edge. The Toronto versions offer spicier marinades and eggplant to compliment the veal. At Slingers, the eggplant is a veggie option. The Calabrese bun was great though.
I figured my back-up was done since Akemi was the only one who even tried the sandwich, but they seemed to get their second wind one block up…
Fourth stop: Tacofino
This food truck had the biggest line-up. While we waited for our order, we were entertained by a tough chihuahua who tried to pick a fight with L’Eau – snarling, barking, snapping. For her part, L’Eau seemed utterly bewildered and immediately lost interest when the food arrived.
While Ashleigh devoured her fish taco like it was the antidote to some deadly toxin set to kill her at any moment, I took my time, luxuriating in that day’s special – a pork cheek taco with spicy Asian slaw, caramelized pork cheek, sriracha mayo, and crispy onions. A little drippy but spectacular nevertheless.
And – check it out! This place served up dessert as well in the form of their Chocolate Diablo Cookie: a fudge-chocolate cookie with fresh ginger, chili, milk chocolate chunks, and salty sprinkles. Sweet, salty, chewy, spicy. Loved it!
At this point, everyone else was ready to go home but, in the interest of reaching our quota of 5 food trucks/week, I insisted we check out just one more.
Fifth stop: La Brasserie.
Okay, now this menu was REALLY limited. You could have a sandwich, a drink, or a sandwich drink combo. And there was also dessert. I decided to cover all the bases…
The fact that I was pretty full did nothing to diminish my enthusiasm for this house smoked chorizo sandwich with fire roasted peppers in warm tomato sauce and fresh rocket (aka arugula) on a buttermilk bun. Never thought I’d say this, but the arugula was a really nice touch. Ashleigh picked one up, claiming she was bringing it back for her guy back home – but who knows.
And, for dessert, a sweet and silky butter tart devoid of annoying raisins. Yum.
Not even L'Eau could resist the butter tart.
And that was it. 5 down. 45 or so to go! Hopefully, Akemi, Ashleigh, and Lawren will do a better job of keeping up next time. If not, I may have to start interviewing for new back-up.
Today’s foodly entry is dedicated to birthday boy Robert C. Cooper!