Sunday, August 12, 2012

Flashback: Food Truck Crawl on the Miracle Mile in LA! (originally published 5/25/11)

I'm visiting friends in SoCal right now.  I didn't get the chance to visit Los Angeles like I normally do; it's mostly California's "Inland Empire" that I'm spending time in.  But last year I spent some food trucking time along LA's Miracle Mile.  As much as our food truck scene is flourishing, LA's is still something to revel in.

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Food Truck Crawl on the Miracle Mile in LA! (originally published May 25, 2011)

En route to an hour of eating. I'm following that guy. Okay, I'm going the same direction as that guy, not really following him so to speak.

Tuesday was my day to venture into the wilds of Downtown Los Angeles. I had chosen Tuesday because I was going to a Web Soup taping that evening - fun as always, and the nice people there helped me find my lost keys and even gave me a bottle of water to make me feel better. Awww... (plus, Web Soup Chris Hardwick is coming back to the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse in June).

But I started my day in LA by seeking out food trucks. It all started out the night before when I read on my new phone about the Dim Sum Truck (Twitter: @dimsumtruck - NB: since so many of these food trucks get their word out through Twitter, I will post links to their Twitter feeds. This will be helpful if you visit LA, or if you actually are visiting my Bawlmer-based blog from the City of Angels). It's one of those Android phones (Hey, these things really are useful!!!) and I downloaded one of those free "apps" to tell me where food trucks are. The Dim Sum Truck was at the Miracle Mile yesterday, right across from the LA County Museum of Art (or LACMA). I had even set my GPS to its location (5850 Wilshire Blvd, LA, CA) to just go right there. What I found, however, was more than just the Dim Sum Truck. Oh yes, much, much more.

If you see this across the street, you are in the right place.
In retrospect, there were about sixteen trucks along three blocks of the Miracle Mile, including the Cool Haus ice cream truck (Twitter: @COOLHAUS) on the other side of the street. When I first saw the trucks I almost short circuited: I literally wanted to go to each one, but I knew this was not going to happen. So I had to peruse them all. A few of the many standouts:

The Wien (Twitter: @thewientruck), one of two wiener trucks there, with regular, all beef, Polish, spicy Polish and (if I remember correctly) veggie dogs all priced around $5, before toppings and stuff. A dog is still going to run you not much more than $6 or $7 if you get a few toppings. And yes there is a bacon dog.
Bool BBQ (Twitter: @BoolBBQ), which I ate from last year, with its revolutionary Korean BBQ tacos
La Rue de Paris (Twitter: @laruedeparis), which sells pastries and especially crepes from between $4 and $8.
* No less than two Indian and two Mediterranean trucks, selling everything from tikka masala (New Delhi Express, Twitter: @newdelhiexpress) to pitas (Pita Pusher, Twitter: @pitapusher) to Mediterranean-Mexican fusion (Kabob Express, Twitter: @mykabobexpress).
* And of course, several taco trucks, including one of at least three Korean food trucks (the aforementioned Bool BBQ).

The Dim Sum Truck
After much hemming and hawing, I finally settled on three. The first one was the whole reason I went to the Miracle Mile in the first place: the Dim Sum Truck, which was the very last food truck I stumbled upon. For just $6, I got three pieces each of pork shu mai ($3) and shrimp har gow dumplings ($3), along with a garlicky soy dipping sauce. And I got my food almost instantly, too - warm as is usually the case from dim sum carts, and flavorful. This was as good as I've had dim sum lately, certainly better than your standard "Asian buffet" or "frozen" variety, and as good as the stuff you'll usually find in most restaurants.

dim sum and samosas
The next one I stopped by was the Bollywood Bites food truck (Twitter: @BOLLYWOOD_BITES). I stepped up to it before the enthusiastic guy came out to draw in customers, and went for the cheaper $2 order of potato and pea samosas. Theirs came with two dipping sauces, and were incredibly fragrant, flaky and tender. The filling also was better than many samosas I have eaten, even at many restaurants.

The Bollywood Bites food truck
My last stop was a taco truck. This time I stopped at the Komodo Food Truck (Twitter: @komodofood). Though I almost went with the Bool BBQ truck again, what drew me to Komodo was not its intriguing pan-international fusion tacos, but the Baltimore Ravens flag hanging from above the window.

There it is, hons.

Yes, I am a sucker for a Bawlmer ex-pat. I bought one of the Java tacos - Indonesian spices with pork, scallion and cucumber for $3.

While not nearly as spicy as they advertised (it didn't make my mouth hurt anyway), it was still a juicy, slightly sweet and savory, and tasty soft taco. I had some flashbacks to a cochinita pibil that I had made a while back, not so much for the flavor as for the look. Ooooh, I wonder if anyone is planning a Yucatecan food truck? (Note: some of the trucks take Visa or Mastercard. Komodo does, but you must spend at least $10. They make this easy for you, since they offer whole meals that cost $10).

I drove away from the Miracle Mile thinking that this was, by far, the best $15 I had ever spent on lunch in Los Angeles, and I have had more than a few of those over the last several years.

Finally, a helpful list of food trucks that showed up at the Miracle Mile on Tuesday. I have posted Twitter links wherever I could.

All-American Gourmet Grill (American food - Twitter: @AllAmericanGG)

Bollywood Bites (Indian - Twitter: @BOLLYWOOD_BITES)

Bool BBQ (Korean fusion, including their legendary Korean BBQ tacos - Twitter: @BoolBBQ)

Chili Dancer (pan-international dishes, focusing specifically on Thai and Southeast Asian food, that showcase chilis - Facebook: The Chili Dancer, though nothing is posted; Twitter account has been so inactive that I'm not sure it's even theirs)

Cool Haus (gourmet ice cream sandwiches - Twitter: @COOLHAUS)

The Greasy Wiener (hot dogs, including New Jersey-style "rippers" - Twitter: @TheGreasyWiener)

Happy Cup Ramen Truck (ramen noodles, duh - Twitter: @HappyCupRamen)

Kabob Express (Mediterranean-Latino fusion - Twitter: @mykabobexpress)

KoManna (Korean - Twitter: @KoManna)

Komodo Food Truck (pan-Asian and pan-international tacos - Twitter: @komodofood)

La Rue de Paris (pastries and crepes - Twitter: @laruedeparis)

New Delhi Express (Indian - Twitter: @newdelhiexpress)

New York Galbi (Korean - Phone: (213) 985-8219 - I cannot find a Twitter or Facebook account for them)

Pita Pusher (Mediterranean - Twitter: @pitapusher

Vchos (pupusas and "Central American-inspred tapas" - Twitter: @vchostruck)

The Wien (hot dogs - Twitter: @thewientruck)
Other photos:

The view towards the Mediterranean food trucks
Got pupusas indeed!
All those food trucks

Guido-Approved for the Left Coast. Orange people welcome.
And from New Jersey to New York, all in a small section of the Miracle Mile.