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Review of “Tasting Spoon” Truck -Former Ritz Carlton Exec Chef Goes Food Trucking!

19 Jul
 
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Back Side of the Tasting Spoon Truck

I was driving back from another food truck lot and noticed a new bightly colored truck there called “Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon”.  I actually pulled over,  just to check it out.The truck was very fancy, with a colorful mural painted on the truck. The truck also featured a very large window on the side, so you can see the Chef making your food.

standard menu

I looked through its large window and saw a very clean  and modern kitchen, something you would see at a white linen restaurant. The truck is owned by Joe Youkhan , former Executive Chef at the Ritz Carlton  and Chat Noir, who decided to start his own catering and food truck business. 

Chef Youkham describes his menu as “Rustic Italian Street Food”, which features a gourmet twist on traditional food truck fare. Some of his gourmet food truck items include grilled artisan pizzas, pinwheel pizzas, mac and cheese bites and pulled pork sliders. This truck also carries some fine dining recipes that have been adapted for  food truck dining,  like Arancini and candied ginger creme brulee. All his dishes are made with advanced cooking techniques and high-end ingredients. For example, the Mac N Cheese Nuggets are made with a three-cheese bechamel sauce and hand coated in bread crumbs, definitely an adult foodie twist to an old food truck favorite. The daily specials were equally

The Pinwheel Pizza (almost looks like a calzone)

impressive, which included a “Tuscan Garlic Smash Burger”, crispy calamari and a pork belly sliders. I asked the Sous Chef what is the one item that I had to try, he told me the Veggie Fonduta Personal Pizza. He explained that the sauce on this pizza is made with love by taking farm fresh produce,  which is slow roasted and then simmered together to make an extremely fresh and vibrant sauce. Based on this information, I had to try the dish.

Chef Joe Youkhan as seen working through the picture windows of the food truck

I watched through the trucks giant picture window to see the chef actually preparing the pizza , “Made to order”. This scratch preparations even included stretching out the dough, assembling the pizza and cooking to order in the truck’s own pizza oven. It was pretty impressive to watch a Master Chef in action. When the pizza came out,  I first noticed that this pizza was of substantial size, about 1 foot long. I knew this dish was going to be filling, at $8 this was a deal.

 

Vegetable Fonduta Pizza

The crust on the pizza reminded me of a flatbread, with slightly crunchy edges. The crust at the center of the pizza was crisp on the bottom and slightly guey up top. The sauce was a “Fonduta” of farm fresh vegetables which retain bite sized chunks of whole vegetables  including eggplant, zucchini, tomato, mushrooms and onions. These chunks both forming the sauce and toppings. This pizza was topped with a mozzarella, whole fresh basil leaves and a dry seasoning.  When I bit into the pizza, I first tasted the slightly chewy and crunchy crust and then the acidity and savory of the vegetables. When I chewed more, the flavors of the cheese integrated. The Cheese’s base ph and sweet/savory protien flavors tied the carbs and acidic ingredients together. Finally, the sweet/pungent flavor of the basil tied a nice bow on the top of this well-balanced  dish.

My Final thoughts

By following my nose and bright shiny objects, his truck, I discovered this great new food truck. Although I only had the opportunity to try one of his dishes, I am excited to come back and try more . I am giving this truck a 4 out of 5 due to his perfect execution of the pizza, the upscale food truck menu and his open window food truck design. This Food Truck is just getting started; but in my opinion one of the best. I predict he will soon be challenging some of the more established trucks. Good Luck Joe!

Website for “Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon”, including his food truck schedule http://chefjoeyoukhanstastingspoon.com/

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Review of “Sea Birds Food Truck”- Vegan Girls do it Fresher

17 Jun

 Review of “Seabirds Food Truck”- Vegan Girls do it Fresher

I tried most of the regular trucks at the teller cluster truck step, but had yet

Sea Bird Food Truck

to try “Sea Birds Truck” because it is Vegan …I know very short sighted of me. I actually really do enjoy vegetarian and vegan dishes, although it is hard to go vegan style when the carnivore trucks are calling my name into the rocks of high cholesterol.

As many of you have read from my posts, I spend a lot of time in restaurants eating and as result spend a lot of time at the gym. I do feel a little guilty after eating a 1 pound burrito sometimes and then slipping away into food coma at my desk at about 2:00 p.m. So what is

Seabirds Truck Menu - Some good looking menu items

the alternative? Give up food trucks? Never! Work out more, yes…but that will only get you so far. The middle ground is eating something a little more healthy at the food truck lot (sometimes). Today I decided to dabble with the healthier side of food trucks and went with “Seabirds Truck” a Vegan “Plant Based” food truck. I really liked the concept of this truck which bases its menu on “healthy, local food that is convenient and fairly priced” (from Seabirds Website). I also like their affinity to sustainability of their ingredients and patronage of local Farmer’s Markets / Orange County organic farms. This food truck offers a seasonal menu and can cater to gluten-free customers.

One of the first things I noticed about the food truck is that it was staffed by an all-girl crew. It also appeared that they were all very fit and living the same life-style that the food truck was promoting. Their appearance lended some credibility, as I would never get a haircut from a bald barber.

As is my usual routine with food trucks, I chat with the people in line and ask them if they have tried the truck before and what is their favorite dish. Everyone in line with me had never tried the Seabirds truck and all shared a similar story of trying all the other food trucks and decided to give this one a try. When it was my turn I asked the friendly order taker, who was standing outside the truck greeting customers, “So what is good here?” . She told me that the “Beer Battered Avocado Tacos” where really good and where even featured on “Good Morning America”. So I ordered the Avocado Taco and then also went for the inexpensive side item the “Truffled Cauliflower” . My name was called and the dishes are placed in some high quality “box lunch” containers, I was impressed already.

Beer Battered Avocado Tacos

Beer Battered avocados Tacos in a really nice box

When I opened the first box, I found the Beer Battered Avocado Tacos. The smell wafted up and it was very pleasant aroma of hot avocado, breading and cabbage. The tacos themselves consisted of two corn tortillas, the beer battered avocado quarters, an avocado soy-cream sauce, diced red onion and topped with red cabbage.

Let me first speak the star of this dish, the Avocado. This was a popular

Nice chunk of avocado

dish,so I watched them preparing it through the window. The first peeled the avocado and quartered it. Next, they coated it in a wet beer-batter and then quickly deep fried it (it smelled great from where I was standing). I almost felt like I was at a healthy version of the O.C. Fair! The soy-based cream sauce was very good as well, I just wished there was more of it. I think it was made by blending avocado and soy-based cream , with a little kick of chili peppers in it to brighten up the flavors.

When I bit into the taco, the light batter was crispy on the tongue and quickly transitioned to creaminess from the warm avocado. The batter was very light on the avocado, just enough to provide a contrasted mouth feel and flavor profile. I am not sure what type of vegan-oil they use in their deep-fryer, but it was definitely light and didn’t weight down the dish. This dish came with two tacos and they were in my stomach in minutes. This dish gets a 4 out of 5, it would get a higher rating if there was more sauce.

Truffled Cauliflower

Truffled Cauliflower

The second goodie box held the Truffled Cauliflower. This dish contained small florets of slightly green cauliflower that appeared to pan fried in a truffle oil on high heat for a short period. The result was a soft yet crunchy cauliflower florets with beautiful toasted marks. In addition the cauliflower was tossed with onions, Italian parsley, garlic and salt. The execution of the cauliflower was flawless. As I finished off the box of cauliflower, I did detect a little bit of vinegary flavor to the oil on the bottom of the box. I know I am missing a couple ingredients, but I will try to reverse engineer it later in the week as I would like to eat this at home. This dish gets a 4.5 out of 5, a very impressive score considering I am a non-vegan eater.

My Final Thoughts

Overall, I was very impressed by the freshness of the ingredients and the creativity of the dishes. The truck was very clean and the staff did a good job at managing orders and delivery times. This is a tough task when all the food is made fresh to order. My only comment to them is that they should reconsider their use of plastic bowls they use for to-go cupcakes and burrito bowls. After watching the documentary “Bag-it”, I learned that this bowl probably won’t make it to the recycling plant and I am sure they can find an alternative. Although I am not a Vegan, I would come back to this truck often especially when I want a healthier option. I would also challenge the carnivorous dudes to give these food truck ladies a chance, because Vegan Girls do it fresher! I recommend The Seabirds Truck.

 
Seabirds Mobile Truck on Urbanspoon

“The Lobster has Landed!”- Review of the Lobsta Truck

15 May

The Lobster has Landed- review of the “Lobsta Truck”

There I was Friday afternoon, sitting in my standard windowless corporate office, doing my standard office work , when I discovered that my phone was buzzing in my pocket! Just like Pavlov’s dog, I started salivating because I had gotten a tweet from one of my fellow foodies that the “Lobsta Truck” was en route with their yummy lobsta rolls. Two minutes later a text arrived…..”The Lobsta has landed”. This text was my queue to send a series of tweets to my followers, “the chair is against the wall,  the Lobsta has landed”. For those of you familiar with the French resistance during WW 2, you might know that this was the code word the French Resistance received to indicate that D-Day was about to begin and to assemble their forces to support the Allies Beach landing. 

 I made my way to the Teller avenue cluster truck meet up spot and already the line was 50 people deep, apparently the foodie mobilization through social media is more effective than one would normally appreciate. In this age of smart phones, social media, social networks the mere mention of a mobile Lobsta Truck, unleashed a flurry of tweets, Facebook

50 people deep at 11:20, 10 minutes before the first order was taken

messages, texts and good old fashion phone calls. What is the result of the “The Lobsta Trucks” keen use of social media? There was already a 50 person line when I arrived at 11:20 and by 11:30, the official start time, there were another 50+ people behind me.  

 The Lobsta Truck is a Los Angeles food truck that swings down to the OC twice a week for a little carpet bagging of the Corporate clustertruck lunch scene. ….and I glad they did 🙂

The menu is very basic, but tasty, a) lobster rolls with mayo or butter dressing b) snow crab roll with mayo or butter dressing, clam chowder c)New England style clam chowder. Based on the conversations I had with fellow foodistas in line, the owner made a trip to Maine and fell in love with the lobster roll shacks littered all over the state. Apparently Seattle has coffee shacks, Portland has hipster shacks, Philly has cheese steak shacks and so Maine has the lobster shack……me personally…I run a love shack, but that’s an entirely different blog.

Now to the food itself, I ordered the lobster roll with mayo dressing. The bread is a fluffy white bread roll, but with lots of butter. The roll was then grilled with more butter until it

Lobsta Roll with Mayo Dressing

has a nice golden brown toast.  The contents of the sandwich was pretty much all Lobster, aside from the mayo dressing. The lobster meat appeared to be all shucked from a lobster (real lobster). The meat came in nice big chunks of lobster, including a very large segment from the claw. The Mayo dressing was a combination of mayo,  bay seasoning, garlic and salt. There appeared to possibly be a few pieces of cabbage and carrot (but not very much).  When I took a very large bite of the Lobster roll, the bread was soft and the toasted roll was slightly crispy on the tounge. The Lobster itself was soft as I bit through it, indicating that it was not overcooked. The taste was sweet and I instantly became giddy as a school girl discovering Justin Beiber was visiting my school.  Needless to say, I ate the entire lobster roll in less than 5 minutes.

The Lobsta Truck is an expensive food truck, $12 for a lobsta roll..BUT having Lobsta delivered to you during lunch…WELL WORTH EVERY PENNY

Worth the $12!

 

Death by the “Rhino” @Ranchoagogo Food Truck (Grilled Cheese Stuffed with Pulled Pork and Mac and Cheese) at Teller Clustertruck

11 May

Death by the “Rhino” @Ranchoagogo Food Truck (Grilled Cheese Stuffed with Pulled Pork and Mac and Cheese) from Today’s ClusterTruck at Teller Street in Irvine

Be Afraid….Be Very Afraid! Lurking in the midst of the food truck Serengeti resides one of the most feared dishes of them all. This item has taken down many a stronger eaters than myself. What is it called? THE RHINO! Dont look at it in the eyes when you attempt to eat it, it will take you down. If you do manage to conquer it, be warned you will encounter the “Curse of the Rhino”. The curse consists of either food coma at 2:00 or worse forced to visit the porcelain throne to pay for your deeds.

This afternoon I spent almost 30 minutes deciding which food truck to attempt today. After chatting with many of the other regulars, I went with Rancho a Go Go. This is a BBQ truck specializing in pull pork, briscit and sliders…no burritos or tacos! Thank god I was getting sick of everyone having fusion items….I had apprehensions though because I am also getting bored with “Slow Simmered Pork…..cooked for 8-20 hours….blahh blahhh blahhhh!). The dude in front of me in line insisted that I give it a chance and then whispered to me, “if you got the balls for it….try the Rhino”. Keep in mind, he said “Rhino” like if you said it’s name too loud, it would find you and eat you. It almost reminded me of, “He who shall not be named” (Voldemort) from Harry Potter.

So I ordered from the owner,  and I swear I saw him do “the sign of the cross” when I ordered the Rhino…(o.k. that didn’t really happen). 10 minutes later, I was handed what looked like a giant brick wrapped with aluminum foil. He should have given me the instructions handle with care because this thing is a beast! Seriously the picture below is almost food porn!

The sandwich is a grilled cheese sandwich, overly stuffed with Mac and Cheese and a

The Rhino!

giant helping of Pulled Pork and a drizzle of BBQ sauce. “Holy Crap!!!!”, is what I said when I peeled open the foil.  The bread was perfectly toasted with plenty of butter, the Mac and Cheese was rich and creamy and the slow simmered pork…was actually really good! Sweet and Savory, it was a well put together dish. After my 4th bite i was already getting full. After finishing the first half of the Rhino…I capitulated to the beast, threw my hands in the air and said “I give up…I’m your bitch”

Bigger than my hand!

I would give this dish a 4 out of 5 for food truck fare.  Meaning, I would recommend it to family and friends and maybe co-workers as well,  so that I can go to them at 2:30 and get approvals while that are dealing with a foggy headed food coma.  The dish’s price was on the higher side for food trucks $8,  but it was LARGE and a good value for the money

“Superfriends from the Lime Truck” – Crispy Gnocchi and the Ultimate Taco

5 May

“Superfriends from the Lime Truck” – Fried gnocchi and the Ultimate Taco

This will be just a short posting from last week’s trip to the food extravaganza at the Irvine Meetup spot.  As a note to my small following of readers, I will now be calling the Food Truck Meetups “ClusterTrucks”,  thanks to a movement sponsored by “OCWEEKLYFOOD” on Twitter. My Co-worker, Louis and I tried 2 dishes last Wednesday, from the Lime Truck.  The Crispy Gnocchi and the Ultimate Taco. Individually, these tasty treats were excellent; although together, they form the Super Friends, capable of defeating your taste buds and your empty stomach.

The Crispy Gnocchi was really little fried pillows from heaven. The gnocchi (most likely frozen…but thats o.k. I am not judging, just saying) appear to be deep-fried and then hand

Fried gnocchi - Little Fried Pillows from heaven

tossed in a spicy cream sauce. Now when I say spicy, it’s not the burn your tounge spicy and see your ancestors. It is a slow and gentle burn your mouth like going for a suntan with SPF 10 sunscreen. It wont burn you at first but if you are exposed long enough it will get more intense. The base of the sauce tasted liked an alfredo , with possibly a slow sizzle chili like chipotle (not too much) and a pureed vege like asparagus. It was topped with Cotija Cheese and fresh shredded mint. This is a definite must try! It is really good and slightly heavy in the belly. I gave this dish a 4 out of 5 on my scale. A “4” means that I would tell my family and friends out the dish and actively seek out the dish whenever I can.

The Ultimate Taco is a street style taco in Corn Tortilla with 8 hour stewed pork (fabulous),

The Super Taco - Sweet pulled pork and a Spicy Chipotle Slaw

Guacamole and topped with a wet slaw of cabbage, unidentified cream base and chipotle sauce. The flavors of the slaw  are rich, pungent and spicy flavors and will takeover the palate initially. Although, the sweet necture of the stewed pork kicks in and mellows out the experience.

 Overall this was a very good taco that came together well on the palate, although I can not give it a 4 because the idea of pulled pork tacos is starting to get so passe’ on the food truck scene. Excellent on its own right, but just a 3 in a sea of similars.

The Lime Truck is a pillar in the Food Truck community and an anchor store in the teller street clustertruck, always there, always consistent and always innovating…what’s next? 

It was a good day at the food trucks, next time I am going to try the Bacon truck!

The Lime Truck on Urbanspoon

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