Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vancouver's Food Truck Festival 2013

For the past two years I have been invited to Yelp's Elite Food Truck Festival Preview and allowed to sample all food truck fare, for free. The doors opened one hour prior to public access and dozens of Yelpers descended upon the trucks like vultures to wounded voles. We only had one hour to eat as much as we could and with over 50 attendees and 15 trucks, small lines formed at each cart. I was worried about not being able to try everything, but I managed to try 14 of the 15 vendors.

The Best

There were several trucks that excelled in both customer service and food production. Soho Road Naan Kebab provided the best service and were amongst the few vendors to offer Yelpers several options, instead of a single option with tiny portions. While I knew of Soho Road before this event, from working downtown, I had only tried their Indian-themed wraps once and was ho-hum about it. They won me over at the Food Truck Festival though. Their tandoori chicken was super moist and the fresh naan was thick and light.  

Ah-So! Roaming Dragon Rice Balls!
Another truck was at the event that I had seen before but never tried, Roaming Dragon. They offer pan-asian dishes. They definitely had one of the best free items with their Fried Chinese Rice Balls, which were light and crispy and packed with Chinese sausage, shrimp, and bamboo shoots. They were topped with a drizzle of teriyaki sauce and curry aioli. I was tempted to buy a full portion of these!

The Average

No wonder I had never heard of JJ's Trucketeria! It's based in Surrey. The land that culture forgot. Just kidding, just kidding. Actually, I'm not. Surrey has food trucks? JJ's creates Filipino fare that includes Lemongrass Chicken and Garlic Fried Rice. They were offering their Vegan Market Bowl at the Yelp event. My first reaction was "Wow! Big portion! Tangy curry sauce!" which was quickly followed by my secondary reaction of "Meh. It's just rice and veggies. Not enough sauce." The large Filipino dudes that own this truck are jolly and obviously passionate about food, but their menu options and presentation are average. I wouldn't pay to eat here.

Huge Portion! Hugely Average!
The majority of the dishes designed for sampling at this event were average. Ze Bite, a truck offering French items with a North African kick, was serving a pathetically small portion of a Moroccan curry. Their regular menu looked pretty blah too. Unfamiliar with this truck, I was hoping to spot some confit or steak frites but all I saw was baguettes and bland blanquettes. A peek at the other reviews of this place will echo my observations on the portions and prosaic dishes.   

The Sub-Par

The Juice Truck? More like The...The...Gruff Truck! I'm not good at insults. Sorry. Not only were the staff here rude and flat, but the smoothies they were serving to us Yelpers were nasty. Warm and chalky, the tablespoons of pink paste that The Juice Truck were handing out (in unappealing medicine cups) just weren't worth finishing. It looked like Pepto-Bismol. Maybe it WAS Pepto-Bismol! The girl that flippantly served me didn't even tell me what I was about to drink...well, more like chew.

I have a problem with food trucks that produce comfort food. It seems like a bit of a cop-out considering the stiff competition out there, and most comfort foods are unhealthy and gluten-rich. I didn't really like any of the comfort-food-doling trucks at the Food Truck Fest: Holy Perogy, Reel Mac and Cheese, and Taser Grilled Cheese. They weren't "bad" but I would never buy any of this food with my own money. It's heavy, and I can make it at home.   

Keywords: "Alex Dawkins", "Best Vancouver Food Trucks", "Food Truck Festival"

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