3.22.2010

29. The Grill 'Em All Truck


I love Metallica. I have loved Metallica for some time, now - and I don’t even really listen to metal. But I do appreciate double bass drum. Growing up primarily on beats, hip-hop and jazz probably had a hand in that. But I will never forget the first time I heard Blackened. It changed something with music and me. I have put that song on countless mixes and still listen to it almost every week. I'm listening to it now. I always play it for my friends who still can’t make sense out of how unlikely it is that I would like it so much. “It’s like a symphony,” I tell them. More often than not I get either a blank stare or a "bless-her-heart" look.

And hell, I have been turning people on to Heavy Metal Parking Lot for well over a decade. I know every single line of dialogue in that epic documentary.

And I love food trucks.

So, as you may imagine, dear readers, I have been pretty geeked about the Grill ‘Em All Truck since day one. They hit the streets near the end of last year, right when I was cramming all those trucks in for my self imposed deadline, and yet I never saw them on any of my routes. Then, it took me awhile to even think about eating at any of the trucks again for a while, even though I do just love their Tweets, in particular. Then, while finishing up some work in Hollywood and on my way back home, there they were. It was an unlikely time of day and location for a food truck. Obviously, I figured they must have been there just for me. So even though I had a co-worker riding along with me, I excitedly pulled over and dragged her to the window to order, all the while explaining the story about these boys.

Manned by BFFs (so un-metal of me, I know), chef Ryan Harkins and burger aficionado/taste tester, Matthew Chernus, Grill ‘Em All is simple: heavy metal and burgers. It’s one of those, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that beauties in the world.


So, last week I ordered the Witte (California cream cheese, deep fried bacon(!!!), beer & sriracha soaked onions & garlic aioli - $8)). I wanted the Lars (seared Hudson Valley foie gras, fried egg, malt vinegar, aioli & chips - $15), but the girl I was with was not down with the foie. Hey, I had just met her. How could I have known? Neither of us were famished, and it was a hot day, so we split our burger. And Matt even told us they could cut it in half for us. Really sweet, but I couldn’t help but feel like a bit of a pantywaist.

 The Witte

We both really liked the burger. The bun was fantastic – shiny, brown and rounded at the top with enough of a crumb to keep the ginormity of the insides together. The meat was nicely cooked for me, about medium. I usually like things almost bloody, but I understand it’s not so easy to accommodate such particulars in truck-land. The deep fried bacon was decadent and awesome. The onions were a little over powered by the cream cheese, which was really the only issue I had with anything that hit my palate that day. I felt that rather than cream cheese, which coats your tongue, the burger would have been more succinct with something more acidic to cut through the powerhouse that was everything else and the grease inherently in the burger. Maybe something mustardy? Maybe a cave aged gruyere?

But still, I knew I wanted to go back. To try more. I just needed a little something else to seal the deal prior to writing this.

And what do you know? They were smack in my truckjectory today! Same location, same time. Kismet.

Same deal as last week… I showed up on the later side of lunchtime, no line, no wait.


The boys remembered me from last week. That always makes a girl feel special. I perused the menu, and really just wanted to try the most basic burger. I wanted to see what they did with bare bones. But they named that burger the Hannah Montana. Good Christ. After getting my burger cut in half last week I was going to be damned if I ordered a chunk of meat called Hannah Montana. I might as well go to the Coach & Horses and order a Shirley Temple. And those of you that know me know that would never happen.

So I ordered the Molly Hatchet (seared fennel smoked sausage gravy, apple wood smoked bacon, with a maple drizzle - $7.50). I felt very satisfied with the bravado of my order until - and I believe they both asked –  “just the burger?” To which I meekly replied, “Um, and a water?” I wanted fries, but I knew the burger wasn’t realistically going to get finished off and I hate wasting food! I’ll try the damned fries next time, guys.

Ryan then handed me 7485061 napkins and said, “You’re gonna need all of these.” This prompted me to ask my age-old truck question, “Why don’t any of you guys ever provide moist towelettes?”

Are you guys ready for this?

THEY HAD THEM!!!!!

After months and months and over 30 some odd trucks, my day had come! I could go on forever about this, but okay, the food!

This was the most delicious angioplasty I have had in recent memory. I felt like Dante, with my copy of the Divine Comedy, standing next to the entrance to hell. 

The Molly Hatchet.  Note the moist towellete on the right.

That fennel smoked sausage gravy was rich, complex, naughty but so divine. And I got it everywhere. The meat was a little closer to the done side than that of last week, but still quality. The bacon added the needed crispy, crunchy to the affair, and that drizzle of maple… that subtle, homey sweetness that perfectly complimented the bite of the sausage and the aristocracy of the fennel. This made me very happy.

This also made a huge mess. Good thing I had that moist towellete...

These fellas are doing something special and seem to be having a blast along the ride. At least, I hope that’s what those huge smiles on their faces are all about. Nothing can possibly beat that. - and it all comes out in their food.

And, apparently they cater parties - and party hard!

3.20.2010

The Duchess and The Pea


Spring is springing all over the city of angels and I am really excited about it. I can smell the wisteria and night blooming jasmine, birds are chirping like crazy, everything is green and bloomy, all of my windows are open and I can wear much cuter tops. The clear, bright and warm days morph into clean, cool evenings with a hint of mystery. This is the absolute perfect time of year to be in Los Angeles.

Oh, and did I mention the produce?

Asparagus, artichokes, peas, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, beans, strawberries and rhubarb are all in season right now and the farmers markets are filled to the brim with them. It’s just wonderful.

I lived in Atlanta for about 6 years prior to moving here in late March of 2002. We didn’t have farmers markets like the ones here. There were no outdoor, open-air markets with individual growers. At least, not that I knew of. I’m sure they have them now, of course. There was an interesting place in Decatur called the Dekalb Farmers Market. It was huge and amazing. It was also reminiscent of a Costco, but just for food – a huge warehouse and great prices. The employees had to wear hair nets and no photography was allowed. Looking back, that was actually a really strange place.

One of my closest friends in Atlanta, Michael Fancini, coined me “The Duchess”. I don’t think it was entirely a compliment or an insult and, while I’m not completely sure why he called me that, I get it. If you knew me, you’d probably get it. In fact, everyone in Atlanta got it. So much so, that I became The Duchess. Occasionally, if I was acting particularly persnickety or gooby, Fancini would lengthen the moniker to “The Duchess of Dork”. Cute.

I miss that guy. He had a beautiful Boxer that he named Chesty B. Wiggles. He also worked wonders with polenta.

So, now here I live in this city of sunshine and shadows, limos and lights, diamonds and guns. And this is the place I call home. As far as I know, I currently have no nickname to speak of. But when I’m at the Sunday market, picking over the healthiest, fluffiest chards, nuttiest avocados, brightest dandelion greens, or delicately sifting through the squash blossoms and perfect heirloom tomatoes, I feel like The Duchess.

At last Sunday’s market while delicately examining and selecting my peas, the metaphor was not lost on me: The Duchess and the pea.

And on a beautiful, sunshiney day, remembering my life in Atlanta, Michael Fancini, Chesty B. Wiggles, and the Dekalb Farmers Market, home to make soup I went.


Fresh Mint Pea Soup


*I have a bounty of various mints growing in my garden. I used a mixture of candy mint, lime mint and chocolate mint. If you can find some different mints, they add a wonderful complexity and zing to the soup.

Serves 4-6

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large shallot, chopped
3 ½ cups fresh peas
3 cups chicken stock
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 cup sour cream
Sea salt & white pepper

Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and sauté until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add peas and stir for a couple of minutes, until well coated. Add stock and bring to simmer. Cook until peas are tender, about 10 minutes. Be careful not to cook too long or on too high heat, to maintain the integrity of the green in the peas.

Let cool for about 15-30 minutes. Puree soup and mint in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pot. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and chill.

Rewarm soup over medium-low heat and salt & pepper to taste. Garnish with a little sprig of mint and serve.

This soup can be served hot or cold and would pair beautifully with a sparkling vouvray.

Printable Recipe

3.13.2010

28. Willoughby Road


A couple of months ago I was in the back seat of someone's car in Santa Monica going to or coming from somewhere. As we drove along we passed a food truck I had never seen or heard of before. I could just make it out as we whizzed by: Willoughby Road. Curious. I thought I was pretty on top of this stuff. How could this one have slipped past me?

As soon as I got home I scrambled to my computer to do some research. Breakdown: two chefs, both graduates of Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. One, Adrian Ochoa, worked under Ludo at Bastide, while the other, Jeshua Garza, rigorously studied the savory science of bbq throughout Massachusetts. These two friends, from way back in high school, then reunited in Southern California selling their food on Sundays at the Eagle Rock farmers' market and soon after found themselves at the helm of - what else - a food truck serving "classic Southern cuisine, redefined."

It's like the food truck version of When Harry Met Sally.

My friend, Brandon, was recently working on an article about Southern food trucks in LA for Oxford American and called me to talk trucks. Sadly, while I had a world of wonderful words about Mattie's, I knew nothing of Willoughby Road. Perhaps it's because they are one of the quieter trucks in the Twitter world and don't often appear along my preferred stretch of truck-lunch-land, Miracle Mile. Eventually, it actually was Brandon who told me these guys were the bomb diggety.

And so I waited patiently for the right time and place. That was yesterday.

I got one of their sparse Tweets an hour before they opened their window on Miracle Mile. They would be serving from 12-1pm. 1 Hour. I jumped in the car and away I went. I texted Brandon on my way to tell him how excited I was to finally get my hands on this food. He replied that I should say hi to Jeshua and that they were "good folk". Excitement was mounting.


And, I might add, I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to sit in a sun spot, by a fountain with my truck fare. This was one of those perfect, sunny, warm with a cool breeze, clear, perfect LA days.

As I sidled up I noticed little to no line. Good. I poked my head in the window and asked the guy if he was Jeshua. He was. So after a few kind words about Brandon and his article, and introducing me to his partner, Adrian, I told him to lead the way - to serve me whatever he thought needed to grace my palate.


After a very short wait he handed me a pulled pork sandwich with Thai slaw and apple chipotle bbq sauce ($6) and an order of candied yams with blue cheese and truffle honey ($4). He said he remembered Brandon being quite fond of the yams. Oh! And being the sweetness that he clearly is, Jeshua gave me a bottle of water - on the house. And so, with my treasures, off to a little wall with a little sun spot by a little fountain I went.

Ok. The food, damnit!


The first bite I took was of the yams. I was so intrigued. They were divine (although I added a scant pinch of salt (which I do to everything)). The yams were cooked to perfection, soft and warm. The blue cheese added a pleasant surprise of savory and bite. And somehow the truffle honey, in its subtlety, brought the three flavors together in unison. They were meant to be.

The sandwich was no joke either, folks. The bun was ever so slightly crisped on the exterior but became immediately delicate upon biting down. It held the bounty inside together brilliantly. The Thai slaw was tangy and the slightest bit spicy, but completely fresh. The pork was tender, succulent, a bit sweet and plentiful. The two elements in the sandwich danced playfully across my tongue. The portions are generous and the food is delicious. So much so that I really wanted to finish my sandwich, but I simply could not as I was stuffed.

An hour later, however, I wanted to go back and try a pile of other stuff on the menu. Brandon said the grits were impressive. And as a fellow Southerner, I trust that what he says is true.

Oh, I'll be traveling down Willoughby Road again, my friends. And I hope to see you there.

3.09.2010

Martha Graham vs. The Keystone Cops


I am accident prone. I just am. In fact, I always have been. When I was a little girl I skinned my knee and proceeded to fall and hurt that same exact spot countless times. It finally got super gross and mom had to take me to the doctor. On the way to the car heading to the doctor, I tripped over a tree branch and fell on it again. I have a scar to prove it.

Another time, when I was even younger, like a toddler, mom tells me she walked into my room and found me with a coat hanger wedged in my throat (the hook part - go figure). She panicked but very gingerly managed to remove it. I also opened the tremendously heavy front door of our house over my foot, which caused a huge cut. Mom put me up on the kitchen counter and told me I was very brave as she poured peroxide over it. I have a scar to prove it.

A few years ago after some openings and cocktails in Chinatown, a friend and I thought it would be fun to give me a piggy back ride – while running – back to the car. He tripped and I flew over his head and slid down the sidewalk on my face. No scar, thank God, but I do have a picture to prove it. I believe Heather entitled it “Eyeface”.

I have wrecked more bikes, stubbed more toes, and had more concussions than I’d like to count or admit. I bonk into corners of coffee tables, bed frames, door frames, you name it. I sometimes even close my own foot in the car door. I am, simply, a klutz.

But not in the kitchen. I wield large, sharp knives, juggle heavy pots and pans over high flames, I pivot and swirl with all sorts of dangerous kitchen equipment and delicate foods with nary a glitch. Why is this, I wonder? 


On Oscar night, my mom came over to bake bread, and cake and cook dinner and watch the awards with me. It was pretty over the top, the amount of action going on in my little kitchen. We baked a rustic loaf and a Parmesan-black olive loaf of bread. Dinner was a salad of shaved fennel, thinly sliced white mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, over mache, with a dressing of Meyer lemon, walnut oil and sea salt, and slices of pork tenderloin sautéed in ginger, garlic, soy and fish sauce over jasmine rice. For dessert we baked a polenta cake with a citrus glaze and homemade vanilla whipped cream. Everything was perfect.


Then, later in the evening, I was outside, lost my footing and had a colossal wipe out causing my knee, elbow and wrist to eat major concrete. It looked horrifying (and still does), and I have been having a hard time with movement, in general, ever since. And I’m sure I will have the scars to prove it. I guess I’m not surprised. I suppose I was overdue. It had been quite some time since the last incident, as far as I can recall.

How bizarre is it that I am like Martha Graham in the kitchen and then a Keystone Cop once I go out  into the world? 

I don’t have the answer, but I do have the recipe for that polenta cake.


Rosemary-Citrus Polenta Cake with a Rosemary-Citrus Syrup

1 stick unsalted butter
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp salt
¾ cup polenta
5 eggs (at room temperature)
¾ cup sugar
zest of ½ Meyer lemon
zest of ½ small orange
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 360 degrees and prepare a 9-inch spring-form cake pan (buttered and floured).

Melt butter and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and polenta. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, whip together eggs and sugar until they are airy and have more than doubled in volume. Add the lemon and orange zests and rosemary.

Carefully fold in about a third of the dry ingredients and half of the melted butter, and repeat until everything is incorporated. Scrape into the cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes; the sides should come slightly away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. It will appear dry but moisture will be added soon.


For the syrup:

1 big branch of rosemary, chopped
½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar
zest of ½ Meyer lemon
zest of ½ small orange
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon

Make this syrup while the cake is in the oven. In a small pot, cook water and sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rosemary and the lemon and orange zests. Bring to a boil, and let it steep, simmering, for 15 minutes, then strain and reserve. Before using, add the lemon juice.

When the cake has cooled for 10 minutes, spoon the syrup evenly over the cake (still in the pan). Let it soak and cool in the pan, then remove. Serve at room temperature, with vanilla whipped cream, either spooned on top or sandwiched in the middle.

 Vanilla whipped cream: 

1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chilled crème fraîche
4 teaspoons powdered sugar
1 1 1/2-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise



Combine whipping cream, crème fraîche, and powdered sugar in medium bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve bean. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until soft peaks form. Add reserved vanilla bean to cream mixture; cover and chill at least 2 hours.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Keep chilled. Remove vanilla bean and re-whisk cream mixture until thick before using.

3.06.2010

Muted Complexity


I find artichokes to be fascinating. When prepared at their most basic, steamed with drawn butter, they are little to no work for the cook but fairly laborious for the diner. No one can figure out the ideal wine pairing for artichokes. In fact, even the origin of artichokes is unknown, though they are said to have come from North Africa. Pablo Neruda equates the appearance of the artichoke to a helmet and MFK Fisher saw the artichoke as the chosen vegetable of status seekers. 

And did you know that this vegetable is of much nutritional value because of its exhibiting aid to digestion, strengthening of the liver and gall bladder function and reduces cholesterol levels?

The most wonderful part of the artichoke, the heart, is buried deep under 87 fully formed, seemingly impenetrable and intimidating leaves that are, for the most part, inedible. Because, remember, the artichoke is a member of the thistle family. But that little heart, when you finally free it from its outwardly unlovable facade, is, well, so lovable – so sensuous, decadent, nutty, acidic, rich, subtle and an intoxicating nugget of gold to grace your palate. People practically arm wrestle with each other for one of those precious bites to dip in the warm, lemony butter.

My dad, upon his first artichoke experience, exclaimed: “It’s like a science project.” Heather noted that she almost always prefers the steamed artichokes prepared at home to those in restaurants. People put the hearts in salads, on top of pizzas, fry them, braise them, or place poached eggs over the bottoms. Suzanne Goin makes a wonderful artichoke-potato hash served along side a perfectly grilled skirt steak. 

And me – wonder of wonders:  I made a soup.

I researched quite a few recipes. One required that I steam 4 artichokes, let them cool and then scrape each leaf for its meat in addition to utilizing the hearts. Unfortunately, even I was not up to that task. I decided to use hearts only. Another recipe called for some lemon. We all know a steamed artichoke is perfect with butter and lemon. I thought I would add a squeeze of Meyer lemon at the end but the soup seemed to have enough acidity on its own. In fact, upon tasting it, my mom immediately thought she identified lemon in the soup. Another recipe suggested making a roux to thicken it up. I decided instead to use a potato. Also, at a random moment near the end, I added a dash of sherry. At one serving I garnished it with a drizzle of walnut oil, a few toasted pine nuts, and some fresh chives. Last night, however, I served it as an amuse bouche, in small, white tea cups, with a single rustic crouton, toasted in fine olive oil and sea salt.

The muted complexities of this soup intrigue and delight me. It’s smooth, rounded, bold, and pithy while also being delicate, peaceful, serene and just a touch reserved: a Zen warrior. The taste lingers on your tongue like an anticipatory pause and perfectly prepares you for your next course that could range from a simple salad to a nicely grilled steak.

This soup surprised and impressed all eight of the people who were fortunate enough to sample it.

You can read Neruda’s beautiful Ode to the Artichoke here.


Creamy Artichoke Soup


2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups artichoke hearts
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
2 ½ cups chicken stock
1 tsp sherry
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the artichokes, stock, salt, and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Using a handheld immersion blender, or in a blender in batches, puree the soup. Stir in the sherry.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Top each of the soups with a drizzle of walnut oil, toasted pine nuts and fresh chives, or simply, a rustic, torn crouton.

Printable Recipe

3.03.2010

Greenspan to Ludo: I believe I Can Fry. Ludo to Greenspan: Let’s Fry Away, Together.


Typo on the date above, fyi.

Last night, to add a little intrigue to Bluesy Tuesdays at The Foundry on Melrose, the famed Ludo Lefebvre shacked up with Foundry chef Eric Greenspan to fry up some chicken. Interestingly, the genesis of this chicken dinner came on Friday, when Lefebvre swung by The Foundry for dinner, only to find that Greenspan had been called away from his stoves (apparently Greenspan was moving a couch at the time). A Twitter exchange later, and Lefebvre had booked himself for a night of cooking.

As is de rigueur these days, word spread like wildfire via the Twitterverse, causing foodies, bloggers and critics alike to scramble for a coveted reservation to experience two great chefs play chicken. And I was one of them.

Brandon and I arrived promptly at 9:30pm, as per our reservation time, and were seated immediately. It wasn’t nearly as nutso in there as I would have thought – it was quite calm, actually. We were originally seated in the back dining room, but I requested we move to the front room, which was a bit more spirited with the live music. And I could watch the chefs and the kitchen from my new perch. Not a problem. Our server happily accommodated us (me).

Men at work.

Brandon and I ordered a smattering of items from the Bluesy Tuesday menu and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. But let’s cut to the chase. The chicken. One plate, 2 pieces of chicken from each chef, $6.

 Greenspan's in the foreground. Ludo's in the background.

Ludo’s fried chicken (LFC) was in the form of nuggets, with brined dark meat. The crispety, crunchety, rosemary and herbs de provence seasoned skin (which is really the most important facet of fried chicken, right?) was simply fantastic. And was this fried in duck fat? Oh, hell yes! These were accompanied by a tangy, sweet and spicy piquillo sauce that I could have done shots of. Ludo’s chicken was overwhelmingly robust and flavorful - and the meat was exceptionally moist and tender. Mr. Gold is right: this may be one of the 99 things to eat before you die. Perhaps that’s also why he sauntered through the door moments after us last night…

Greenspan’s chicken was a force to be reckoned with, however. He offered up a drumstick and a thigh with a buttermilk crust and meat that literally fell off the bone. I was impressed that he re-imagined the chicken and waffles concept by accompanying his chicken with maple syrup and goat cheese waffle segments.

Interestingly, while I preferred Ludo’s chicken – primarily because of the dark meat, Brandon opted for Greenspan’s – primarily because of his chicken and waffles concept. He felt that while Ludo’s chicken was “the tenderest chicken I’ve ever tasted”, that it was otherwise uninspired without the accompanying piquillo sauce (which, he also thought, by the way, completely changed the taste of that chicken into something new and magical.) We did agree, though, that both were fantastic.

And I must mention a special, little gem about our plates of chicken. They each came with moist towelettes! I cannot possibly express how happy that made me. There should be more moist towelettes in this world.

Another standout item of the evening, and something worth mentioning, was Greenspan’s Cornbread Pudding with crème fraiche ($8). It usually is also accompanied with a jalapeño jam, but they had run out. As a Texas expat, Brandon ordered the dish solely because the word jalapeño was inserted into the description. But this dish was so moist, both savory and sweet, and divine, that even he didn’t miss the jam.

So, a bottle of wine, an amuse bouche from Ludo, fried green tomatoes with watermelon and blue cheese, a potato soup with a soft egg, cornmeal pudding, the fried chicken and $70 later, Brandon and I were sated, happy, and full of warm fuzzies. Nothing beats a fantastic meal with a friend.

And I have to give him big ups for humoring my excited anticipation for two days, making us move tables, having to witness me geeking out over seeing the chefs in action, and worst of all, taking pictures with the flash at the dinner table. Well, at least I paid.

The Foundry On Melrose on Urbanspoon

3.01.2010

27. The Dogtown Dog Truck


After leaving the Reggae Jerk Chicken Truck, I headed west on Wilshire and spotted the Dogtown Dog truck. Woo-hoo! I whipped a U-ey and secured a parking space directly behind the truck. Score! It was about 2:30 and I was surprised to see such a cluster of folks around the truck. After my truck experience less than an hour before I decided this was a good sign. But as I sidled up to the window I realized that all of these people had already ordered and were waiting on their food. Curious.

I almost didn’t even have the chance to order as the man in the window said they were closed. But wait – no, not closed. I got the last order of the day. The menu consists of 6 different styles of hot dogs and some cute sides: tater tots, buffalo tots and fennel slaw. I would have preferred to order their California Dog ($6), but opted for their signature Dogtown Dog ($5). Gotta order the namesake, right? 


So, I turned around, walked over to a low wall to sit and wait. As I glanced around at the folks around me (about 8 people), I realized they were all still waiting for their food. Nothing had come out of the window of the truck yet. For hot dogs? I can’t imagine any other food that would come out of a truck faster than hot dogs - especially if there are only 6 varieties. This began to concern me.


The guy that took my order even came out and began to close down the truck while we were all waiting. Why wasn’t he helping the food come out faster?


So, seriously folks, I waited about 20 minutes. I ordered one (1) hot dog. Were they actually putting the meat in the casings in that truck?? Needless to say, this hot dog had a lot to live up to at this point.

Where's the beef?

Well and so. The dog was okay, but there wasn’t a whole lot of it. I liked its flavor but again, it was a pretty skimpy dog that was eclipsed by both the soft bun and the toppings – fennel slaw, roasted red peppers and Dijon mustard. I enjoyed the fennel slaw (but there was a bit too much of it) and peppers, but my mustard was nowhere to be found. The menu brags of a snap. My dog was not that snappy. Which is really not a big thing to me anyway. But for $5 and a curious wait, I want a big-ass dog. I want something more like what Let’s Be Frank is doing. Their dog was a meal. This dog was really my second lunch and I still wasn’t stuffed. And I stuff easily.

After 2 months of staying relatively truck free, today ended up being somewhat disappointing. I will say that in the past couple of months I tried Komodo, Louks and Fressers, and found them to all be quite good. I plan to return to each of them to provide a more thorough review. So keep checking in!

26. Reggae Jerk Chicken Truck


It has been a while, gang.

Although I was pretty trucked out, as it were, by the end of last year, I have still been visiting a few here and there. And yes, of course I attended the LA Street Food Fair a couple of weeks ago. I just haven’t been wearing my truck hat as much as my chef hat lately. So no reviews recently.

But today, dear readers, I had a wild hair. I squeezed in two (2) food trucks for lunch!

I have been pretty excited since I heard about a jerk chicken truck hitting the streets a few weeks ago. I love jerk chicken and plantains and beans and rice. Yum! While, undoubtedly, there are quite a few brick and mortar establishments that serve this fare around town, I have not been clued into them. I guess it’s not been on my radar.

There was this amazing restaurant in my neighborhood in Atlanta where I ate at least once week. They had excellent jerk chicken and fried plantains. I think it was called Bridgetown Grill. Also, Eats, a wonky little spot, had a jerk chicken that just blew my mind. Actually, that place was tremendously cool. And cheap. Check it out if you visit the ATL.

Well, I hadn’t thought about any of that in ages - until I heard about this truck. So today, I took a small detour in my route to check them out. They were on Wilshire, in Koreatown. Why is the stretch of Wilshire from Fairfax to Koreatown so exceptionally windy all the time? Anyone?

Ok. Zero line. I never know if that’s good or bad. It was nearing the end of the lunch phase, so I’m sure it was just timing. The menu was super bare bones, which I appreciate. Concentrate on what you do well, right? Basically, I had my choice of a big plate of jerk chicken over rice or fries, a small plate of jerk chicken over rice or fries, a jerk chicken burrito, a beef patty (?), and a smattering of sides, including plantains.


They also had a few little tripod-y chairs in front of the truck. God is in the details.

I ordered the small jerk chicken plate over rice & beans ($4) and a bottle of water ($1). You have to admit: the price is right. The food came out immediately. I mean, immediately. This made me happy as I was parked in a loading zone. So I scurried to a little wall near my car (to keep an eye on it) and dove into lunch.

Okay. I have read some other reviews of this truck, and they are all glowing. I also read that chef Anthony Robinson, a Jamaican native and recent L.A. transplant (via England), earned his chops making jerk chicken that he sold to clubgoers on the streets of London. So I am confused.

My chicken was unlike any jerk chicken I have experienced before. The actual meat was chewy and fatty. It reminded me of the caliber of meat you get in those Chinese spots in food courts at the mall. The meat itself had little flavor and had “jerk sauce” glopped on top of it. Said sauce was thick and reminiscent of bbq sauce. There was zero heat, actually it was fairly sweet (the dish was warm in temperature, however). I liked the rice, but would have preferred a coupla more beans in there. I also had a hard time eating off of the shallow tray the food sits upon. I lost a lot of rice to the sidewalk. This dish requires a bowl, or something deeper.


Sigh. I want to chalk it up to being an off day. Or, perhaps jerk chicken is a different beast on the west coast. But admittedly, I was really bummed out about this. In no way did it satisfy any of the flavors, spices and textures I was anticipating hitting my tongue.

So, still hungry, I headed west on Wilshire to see what other treasures would pop up… And there, in the food truck zone that is 5700-5900 Wilshire, I saw the Dogtown Dog truck, another truck that has been on my radar for quite some time. 

Stay tuned…