Wednesday, March 30, 2016

LA Food Truck Reviews #2: Eat Fig and York (Mandoline Grill, Peaches' Smokehouse, India Jones)

Wow, it was so much fun just writing and eating and writing and eating, that I'm going to do it again!  I ate such good food at my last food truck, that I just had to go find more, and lo and behold, a mini food truck fest right around my neighborhood.  Eat Fig and York, a mini food truck festival in Highland Park, usually showcases about 3-4 different food trucks each week.  This week I had the pleasure of trying out different things from the Mandoline Grill, India Jones Chow Truck and Peaches' Smokehouse.  I went with a group of friends (shoutout to Katherine, Liz and Evan), and got to share/try different things!
Mandoline Grill
Peaches' Smokehouse Truck

India Jones Chow Truck 
I ordered a grilled pork Bánh mì from the Mandoline Grill and a Fried Chicken Sandwich with Waffle Fries from Peaches' Smokehouse.  I'll talk about the Bánh mì and then talk about the Fried Chicken Sandwich afterwards.

Bánh mì from Mandoline Grill
When it comes to Vietnamese sandwiches, Bánh mì, outside of Vietnam, it's hard to find really good ones.  Lee's Sandwich is good, but it's hard to find.  I've been to Vietnam and I've come to realize that it takes a miracle to find truly authentic ones, but if I lower my standards, they're not bad.  Thus I ordered one from Mandoline Grill, and it was great.  The french baguette was quite long and skinny, but there was no skimping of the toppings.  It was a very full sandwich.  All of the requisite flavors were present, with the grilled pork, the cilantro, the tangy pickled vegetables and the heat of the jalapenos.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and my friends did too.  It was big enough for us to share without being super full, and it was nicely filled such that everyone had a bite of everything.  Like I said, it's hard to find extraordinary. super authentic Bánh mì, but even the ones I find here, are just as great.

Fried Chicken Sandwich & Waffle Fries
Now I'm not someone who is that familiar with southern cuisine, and my preconceived notions of them are: it's mostly fried, BBQ, great seafood.  That being said, I had one of the best Fried Chicken Sandwiches ever at Peaches' Smokehouse.  I cannot praise it high enough.  It was a substantial piece of chicken, like a boneless thigh I think.  Very juicy dark meat, not dry at all and the crunch was just superb.  Great flavors all around, from the chicken, to the garlic aioli that was in the sandwich.  It also came with house-cured pickles that acted as a great palate cleanser.  If there was one thing I would complain, is that it's a bit pricey.  Other than that, I truly enjoyed that sandwich.  Honestly, this sandwich is my guilty pleasure.  One that I can only enjoy maybe once a week or less than that.  The waffle fries, were a bit lackluster.  Wasn't that crispy (maybe because it was cold outside), but also didn't get as much as I would've thought, also based on the price.  However, I couldn't eat much because I had to try some of the other things that my friends purchased.

Butter Chicken with Rice from India Jones
My friends ordered things from India Jones, which I had the opportunity to try.  They first had a garlic naan, which was super good.  It was what I expected a naan to be, like from an actual restaurant.  Often times, I'm skeptical of naan outside of a restaurant, but this was just amazing.  It was amazingly garlicky, almost like a garlic flatbread, with such bold flavors.  We destroyed the naan, even before we received our curry.  It was that good.  They also ordered a combo, which came with a curry, butter chicken, and two Indian tacos.  I unfortunately, only had one bite of the butter chicken.  I wish I had more, but from what I can remember, it was good.  The chicken was done quite well, wasn't too dry.  The curry was sweet, but also had a subtle kick to it, much like what I would expect from a butter chicken.  If I see them again, I'll definitely have more than just one bite next time.  The other part, was the taco chaat.  They were two blue hard shell corn tacos, one with chicken and one with lamb.  It was also filled with some spicy slaw, and topped with a really nice sauce and crispy vermicelli.  The chicken had a nice spicy kick too it, and the texture was so good with the crunch of the shell and the vermicelli.  The chicken was also quite well done, with it not being dry and being quite flavorful.  The lamb was a little bit chewy, but had great flavor and also had a nice kick.  Both of them were great examples of the fusion cuisine.
Chicken Taco Chaat from India Jones (not my hand)

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Eat Fig and York.  The parking situation was super convenient and there weren't a lot of people there, so there were hardly any lines.  I wished there was some seating arrangements, like benches or tables and chairs, but my friends and I were content with just sitting on the lot and enjoying our bounty.  I'll definitely come by next week to try out some new trucks and even revisit some old ones.

Monday, March 28, 2016

LA Food Truck Reviews #1: Okamoto Kitchen

I've been meaning to publish a new post, and here it is.  My first food review on my blog in a long time!  I have recently taken to Yelp to post some of my reviews, but I figured that it was about time to get back into what I missed.  As such, I will try to review some of Los Angeles' Food Trucks, that I happen to stumble upon.

A few months ago, I read a Buzzfeed article on the "19 Best Food Trucks in L.A."  I followed all of their Twitter accounts in order to find out their locations, so that if I were ever in the area of any of them, I would stop by.  Over the months, I've continued to add more accounts to my list of notifications and when I stumbled upon @Okamoto Kitchen, I knew I had to follow.  Today I had the privilege to try them out as they parked by Eagle Rock Boulevard, 3 minutes away from Occidental College.  I ordered the Nom Bomb Sandwich and the Okamoto Curry Plate.
Okamoto Kitchen parked on Eagle Rock Blvd
The Nom Bomb Sandwich is a lightly fried-chicken (or tofu) sandwich with shredded cabbage, teriyaki sauce, tartar sauce and jalapenos on a toasted brioche bun.  It's like the menu says, both sweet and sour, due to the teriyaki sauce and the tartar sauce.  It is/was a good sandwich.  It tasted great, was very filling and had good texture as a result of the cabbage and the fried chicken.  It wasn't really "Bomby", or what I assumed it to be, spicy.  The jalapenos was not spicy at all, and while it did provide a crunch, I expected some more heat.  Maybe a different sauce combination, something that had a bit more kick.  This could be a spicy mayo mixture, or adding sriracha into the tartar sauce, or even something into the chicken.  I liked it though.  This was a good sandwich and would definitely order again.
Nom Bomb Sandwich (not a flattering photo I understand)
The Okamoto Curry Plate is normally curry with some rice and shredded cheese on top.  I opted for no cheese and added a Chicken Katsu to it.  As I was speaking with the owner, he described the curry as being extremely rich and deep.  He said it was their oufuu curry, a Japanese curry that has a more European influence.  Their base is a veal stock that comes together with spices and other ingredients to make this deep and rich thick roux.  It was amazing.  Not sweet, like Japanese curry that I'm used to/grew up with, but full of flavor.  It was very filling and very hearty.  Something I would eat on a cool day like it was.  It had a great subtle kick.  It wasn't overpowering, but I could feel the heat as I continued to eat.  I just wish there was a small palate cleanser with it.  Maybe some Beni shōga or pickled ginger, or even shibazuke, which is pickled cucumber and eggplant (though I may be biased to that choice as it is one of my favorites).  The curry did look a bit oily, but that's only probably because I didn't eat my curry until 30 minutes after purchasing it.  The beef chunks and the chicken was extremely flavorful and worked very well with the curry.  I would definitely order it again.

Okamoto Curry Plate (also not flattering, you can see the oil though)
All in all, it was a good meal.  I probably would've been satisfied with just one or the other, but I wanted to order what I thought were their flagship products and I came away deeply satisfied.  Next time they're around, I would be happy to stop by.  Their website is linked about and their Twitter feed is @Okamoto Kitchen.

Stay tuned for more reviews, books, food, other...

Sunday, March 6, 2016

I'm not dead!

To my non-existent readers, I want to say: "I'm not dead!" At least not yet, but that's a different story. Anyhow, it's been a while since I've blogged and I find myself wanting to write more, except not just life stuff or essays that I've written. I want to get back to the roots of this blog. "The Critic Says". It's been a while since I've written a critique of anything and I want to have a go at it once more. So as of right now, I hope to release two new reviews very soon. One of this book series that I fell in love as soon as I first started reading it: Throne of Glass by Sara J. Maas. The other being a good review of a food truck that I will try out in the near future. 

Despite my lack of presence on my blog, I have written some food reviews in Yelp which I will also link in the near future. Anyhow, that's it for tonight, but stay tuned.