Posts Tagged ‘Viking Truck’

Over time, human tastes change due to exposure to new things, new experiences, and new knowledge. Starting off as a child, we consumed basic foods mainly for nutrition, not for enjoyment. Once we left our toddler stage, we start to eat common foods like hot dogs, pizza, and hamburgers, as well as crave sweets. From that point on, we would slowly start to like new and different foods and different tastes. For example, most kids and teenagers love ketchup, but cannot stand mustard. Conversely, adults tend to prefer mustard over ketchup due to its flavor complementing meat products, as well as having no sugar. Once we get older, we tend to stick with what we have come to eat on a regular basis. Sometimes, we start to crave what we once had as children. This concept of eating what we did as children, known as comfort food, has recently gained popularity with today’s society, but with gourmet twists to satiate our adult needs. Sure we may want basic macaroni & cheese sometimes, but order it while dining out, and you may receive it with bread crumbs, truffle oil, and/or some kind of meat in it, like bacon. Sometimes, you just want the original thing, and you want it to taste good. Whether you want the original or a rebooted original, comfort food will always have a part in our lives. If you desire comfort food, check out these five comfort foods that you can find in the greater Los Angeles area.

5. La Palma Chicken Pie Shop‘s Chicken Pot Pie

Longevity of a business typically indicates that any business does their job well at staying in business. If a business can remain open for years in a highly competitive industry, that business deserve to remain there. La Palma Chicken Pie Shop has existed in Anaheim for so many decades that nobody can truly claim local status without having heard of this place. Since their inception in the 1950’s or whenever they opened, they have done their thing and have not changed a bit. Find all your typical comfort foods here, from the turkey sandwiches to the chicken noodle soup to all the delightful pastries and baked goods here. Of course, anyone visiting this quaint shop must try their namesake, the Chicken Pot Pie. For less than $5, you can order a smothered chicken pot pie a la carte. This pot pie contains nothing extraordinary – just your typical chicken meat, peas, carrots, and gravy. When you order it a la carte, they smother it with more gravy. Sure it may not contain anything unique, but it tastes exactly as how you would imagine it. No reason exists to fix something not broken.

4. The Crooked Duck‘s Duck Chili

Do you occasionally drive down a busy street and see businesses to the side that makes you wonder what they have? Some major roads have plenty of great local businesses along the path, but the majority of everyone driving on that road simply zooms past these businesses and never take time to discover what awaits if they stop to visit. Slowing down may lead you to discover interesting places, such as The Crooked Duck in Long Beach. I feel that its location hinders its popularity, as the speed limit in front of The Crooked Duck clocks in at over 50 MPH, so most people zoom past this place and never know what lies here. I can tell you now that if you stop to visit this place, you will discover amazing comfort food prepared with local ingredients. But since they have duck in their name, you can expect some of the greatest duck dishes here, such as their Duck Chili. This black bean chili has 5-spice duck in it, with wonton chips and a hoisin sauce drizzle on top. Despite the presence of a strong sauce, the duck boldly stands out. For just $5.25, you can get this duck on and satisfy your hunger with a right portion.

3. The Viking Truck‘s Nemesis Corn Dog

In recent years, Disneyland has stepped up the quality of their food in regards to ingredients. Unfortunately, the price increases of everything including the entrance ticket does not justify visiting this theme park for a mere bite. For years, I have sworn by the corn dog from the Little Red Wagon in Disneyland, but could not afford to visit the park whenever I craved it. Fortunately, the discovery of The Viking Truck in Orange County has nullified any reason I have to go into Disneyland for a corn dog. The Viking Truck, which roams Orange County in their food truck, specializes in gourmet sausages, and utilizes them not only in sandwiches, but in corn dogs. Using a homemade batter, The Viking Truck uses their gourmet sausages for unique corn dogs not easy to replicate. Their signature corn dog, the Nemesis Corn Dog, contains their smoked bratwurst. This combination works so well because of the batter’s sweetness matched with the bratwurst’s smokiness and meatiness. The flavors contrast so well, but the addition of spicy brown mustard adds an additional sour flavor, completing the full taste bud spectrum. This brilliant corn dog costs just $6.50 (when not at special locations such as a convention center), slightly more than a Disneyland corn dog. But when you consider the freshness of this corn dog, and the fact that you do not have to pay to visit this food truck, who cares about which one costs less?

2. Beer Belly‘s Beer Belly Grilled Cheese

If something does not fit in with the others, do you call it a black sheep or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? You probably answered black sheep… but what if the black sheep holds power over the herd? Enter Beer Belly, Koreatown’s wolf in sheep’s clothing. A random gastropub tucked away in the urban sprawl of Korean businesses… no one would believe a hidden gem like this exists in such a town. Once you discover it and venture inside, you will discover that you may fall in love with Beer Belly. For a place so small, Beer Belly offers a vast variety of not only food, but beer as well. Their reinvention of classic comfort food into a fine dining experience will leave you craving more, especially their Beer Belly Grilled Cheese. At $12, this one-of-a-kind grilled cheese basically takes two grilled cheese sandwiches and utilizes each of them as a bun, resulting in a sandwich containing four slices of bread. Playing along with the power of Four, four cheeses play into this sandwich: cheddar, asiago, gruyère, and goat cheese. As if four cheeses did not appear enough, the center layer contains applewood-smoked bacon, and the entire sandwich receives a drizzle of maple syrup. I sincerely hope that if you plan to tackle this beast of a sandwich that you do not follow any diets. As they say about comfort food: good for heart, but bad for your heart.

1. Tavern On 2‘s Rosa’s Chilaquiles

I love to watch the evolution of local establishments. New businesses mostly start out small, and with the growing fan base, the business must grow too. When Tavern On 2 finally unveiled the doubling of their dining area, business boomed for them, as expected. One of two gastropubs in Belmont Shore (the other one counts as a chain), Tavern On 2 understands their loyal customers, and constantly adapts to the changing times of not only the local community, but to the frequent visitors from out of town. Those who have not visited Tavern On 2 within the past few months ought to return to gaze upon the new menu curated by Tavern On 2’s new chef. Many of the old favorites remain on the menu, such as their Oxtail Poutine, but the brunch menu has received a complete overhaul, which now lists some interesting dishes, such as Rosa’s Chilaquiles. This modern reinvention of a classic starts with a traditional chilaquiles base of egg-washed tortilla pieces smothered with chile verde. This dish receives a generous helping of avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro, queso fresco, crema, and roasted pork belly. Wait, what? Looks like the chef decided to place a spin on this traditional dish. Although the pork belly represents a small portion out of the entire dish, it brings enough porky undertones to make its presence felt during the course of devouring. Score this rad dish during brunch on the weekends for just $12. Do not forget to pair this with some great craft beer that Tavern On 2 changes weekly!

Over the years, many food trucks come and go, proving that only the strong survive. Granted, a handful of terrible food trucks still exist today, but for every few bad food trucks that open, a star rises from the depths. Opening a winning food truck usually involves launching a concept so unique that a restaurant would not feasibly imitate the idea. With the arrival of Spring, businesses in many different industries start to open up and plan for greater business. Restaurants dole out new menus, bars kick up drink specials, bands book new shows & tours, and food trucks awake from hibernation. Winter brings slow business to many food trucks, so many owners opt to remain dark throughout winter. But when the weather warms up, customers eagerly seek out the food trucks, so they start rolling out more frequently. Check out these five food trucks in the Greater Los Angeles Area that have braved the harsh winter to remain open selling their delicious eats. If these food trucks can stand the test of time, who knows what direction the owners plan to head in next.

5. Vchos Truck

Taquito & Mixed Pupusas

People colloquially know food trucks as luxe loncheras, loosely translated as taco truck. The typical luxe lonchera serves standard Mexican food: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and more similar foods. A luxe lonchera may not always serve just Mexican food – just to mix it up, they usually serve American standards, like burgers and sandwiches. If you seek authentic food, a luxe lonchera may not earn a high spot on a list of places to search. However, Vchos Truck aims to stick close to their Salvadorean roots with their hand-made pupusas. This Salvadorean food consists of thick tortillas filled with any of various fillings that may contain any combination of meat, cheese, or beans. The folks at Vchos hand-make fresh gluten-free corn tortillas to order, and fill them with your choice of fillings, such as chicken or pork. Vegetarians may also enjoy meatless options, while vegans can enjoy a bean pupusa or other specials upon request. Although pupuserías exist everywhere throughout Los Angeles, no one else serves pupusas on a food truck but Vchos. Get your pupusa fix by tracking down Vchos Truck this season.

4. Ta Bom Truck

Coxinhas (3) + Brigadero (1)

Thanks to the gourmet food truck movement, the definition of a luxe lonchera has expanded to encompass more than just a taco truck, or some other food truck that serves Mexican food. Specifically, we can thank chefs like Roy Choi, founder of Kogi BBQ, for bearing the vision to start something so different yet so terrific. A food truck serving Salvadorean food only seems logical as the next step in the evolution of the luxe lonchera, but the expansion does not stop there! Head down further south to find entirely new cultures in South America… or track down Ta Bom Truck for their wonderful Brazilian street food. Los Angeles’ first and currently only Brazilian food truck serves street food Brazilian style, such as their pastels (filled fried pastries) or the Hamburgao. However, if you can visit Ta Bom only once, you must order their signature item – the Coxinha. These teardrop-shaped treats start with a filling of shredded chicken and cream cheese, which get wrapped in potatoes, then battered and fried. Coxinhas come in two varieties – original and spicy. Each Coxinha costs $3, but you can order three of them plus a soda for $10, or six of them for $15. I highly recommend ordering the six, as you can easily reheat them at home. Experience why I call these Coxinhas “little drops of heaven” by locating Ta Bom, which usually only opens for lunch, and seldom for dinner.

3. The Viking Truck

Yes, a repeat entry! When a food truck makes it onto a list twice within a 12-month span, believe me when I say this food truck deserves your patronage. Already open for just over a year, The Viking Truck means business this year with their BRAND NEW TRUCK. This new truck comes equipped with FOUR fryers, meaning they can crank out up to four times as many corn dogs or tots. You will not find a better corn dog anywhere else. I used to swear by the corn dogs at Disneyland, such as the Little Red Wagon or Corn Dog Castle. However, one can only acquire those by gaining admission into the theme park, then shelling out another $5-6 for the corn dog. With the Viking Truck, you do not have to pay to stand in line at the truck – you simply walk up to the line! And you also get choices on your corn dog instead of just the beef hot dog! For a psychedelic taste journey, order the Terrorbird (Chicken Apple Sausage Corn Dog) with their Curry Ketchup. This will remind you of a pancake & sausage on a stick, just like those found in junior high/middle school. As an aside, look on their Facebook page to learn the fate of the old truck.

2. Meet ‘N Potatoes

White Truffle Aioli Burger

Surviving in the food truck industry today relies heavily on making friends with all the other players in the industry. Prior to opening a food truck, owners must meet other owners and workers, and learn about the industry’s movers & shakers. Back in January 2011, after months of meeting the right people, Meet ‘N Potatoes finally opened their doors to a highly competitive field. Nobody ever claimed an easy opening of a food truck, so even with the right resources, expect a rocky start. The folks at Meet ‘N Potatoes appear to strategically plan their next moves though, as they remain ahead of trends and curves, and remain a solid food truck today. Meet ‘N Potatoes bears a simple menu – their sandwiches contain the same ingredients across the board, and the customer only has to choose the size of the sandwich and the meat. They carry daily specials, but their White Truffle Aioli Burger has remained a special for over a year. Regardless of its status as a special, you should immediately go for this item over their standard menu, since you cannot find a sauce like this anywhere else. Because of the layering, the sauce almost gets absorbed into the burger, which further amplifies the sauce and the patty. Unlike the standard menu, this burger only comes in one size. Although that means the burger could feed two, after one bite, you may not want to share this burger after all. Discover the consumption of fries in your sandwich by order a sandwich from Meet ‘N Potatoes this season.

1. Dos Chinos

Hollywood Chicken Burrito

The evolution of the luxe lonchera comes full circle, bringing tastes from the east to the kitchens of the west. With such a melting pot culture, California sees more than just social intermingling – Californians love to combine aspects of all fields. We see that already in music, where some artists combine classical instruments with today’s contemporary music. We see that already in fashion, where vintage receives a modern update to create a faux-retro style. Now we see that in food, where chefs mix cuisine from two different cultures. Latin American cuisine seems to mix well with other cuisines, so when Dos Chinos acted on this concept, they bore a style that would catch on for years. Orange County’s premiere modern luxe lonchera rolls through the streets serving Asian food Latin-style. Thanks to the open canvases that Latin cuisine provides, Dos Chinos has thrown their Asian entrées onto a tortilla, and called it Genius. As such, customers receive multiple choices when ordering: pick a meat, then pick a preparation. Meats include coconut curry chicken, pork belly, BBQ beef, rib eye asada, garlic butter shrimp, and “breakfast style” which includes an egg. Per the customer’s choice, Dos Chinos will prepare the choice of meat as a taco, burrito, bowl, quesadilla, or papas fritas. Patrons love the choices, and they love the simplicity of the menu for carrying something familiar yet different but tasty all at the same time. Dos Chinos reigns as one of Orange County’s top food trucks, and their food clearly proves how they earned that position.

As we embark on a new year, we look back on the previous year to learn and make progress for the upcoming year. Day by day, people live their lives, some by a set routine, others by thriving on new discoveries and expansions. The human race always seeks to progress culture by devising and adapting new approaches to existing methods. While not all humans share the same interests, all humans at least bear knowledge about food, as everyone has eaten food their entire lives. From the early days of basic meats, vegetables, and grains, food has evolved into a vast range of ingredients, tastes, cooking methods, and presentation. Innovative foods often make headlines as a new discovery, so as a result, many modern chefs tend to experiment more rather than stick to basics. Over time, many food trends surface, giving way to entrepreneurs to capitalize on those growing trends, such as cupcakes, frozen yogurt, and the recent gourmet food trucks trend. However, many food trends remain relatively undisturbed, known only to the true food fans. Last year saw a few food trends touched on, yet they still have not flourished. Read on to find out five food trends to pay attention to this year.

5. Duck Fat

320 Main‘s Duck Fat Fries

Ask any meat eater about their favorite meat, and nine times out of ten you will receive “Bacon” as the response. Those nine people also agree that the tenth person should shut up, but that argument belongs to someone else. Anyways, most people recognize that fried foods get fried in oil, which does not add much flavor to the end product, just the crunch. Most mass-produced food tend to use cheaper ingredients, like how many chain restaurants fry their fries in oil. When you start to step up the quality, you see the previously mass-produced foods getting prepared in small batches. Have you ever tried a small batch of fries fried in duck fat? Move over, bacon – duck fat fries carry tons more flavor, cooked right into each fry. Sure one can cook fries in bacon grease, but in addition to gaining more bad grease than flavor, does the fryer use high-quality bacon or store-bought bacon? Besides just fries, plenty of other foods can cook in duck fat. Duck carries more flavor and texture than chicken and turkey, as most ducks live in the wild. Always remember that wild meat almost always outperforms farm meat in every category.

4. The Influx of Gastropubs

Red Table‘s Loco Moco

When deciding on a place to go dine out, do you ask where to go, or do you get asked where to go? Traditionally, recommendations go along the line of cuisine type, such as Asian, Italian, Mexican, Sushi, and so forth. But when you ask someone where to eat (or vice versa), how often would you hear someone mention a gastropub? Until recently, nobody had even heard of the word gastropub. With the recent preference shift towards higher quality food, people started recognizing the significance of gastropubs in the restaurant circuit. If you have not heard of a gastropub, imagine a pub that serves craft beer and high-end food at reasonable prices. Because of how recent gastropubs started emerging, most gastropubs feature nontraditional dishes, preferring to think outside of the box they call a kitchen, and rambling up something crazy that works. Want to see pulled duck, cheese, and a fried egg over fries? Only at a gastropub. Want to see french toast, bacon, maple syrup, and peanut butter ice cream? Only at a gastropub. Want to see a bacon-wrapped meatloaf stuffed with a hard-boiled egg? Only at a gastropub. You can find amazing food at a gastropub that you most likely will not find anywhere else.

3. Cooking with Craft Beer

The Viking Truck‘s Wipeout IPA Lamb Sliders

The popularity of craft beer has soared over the past few years. While the same few fizzy yellow beers continue to dominate market share across the globe, as people get educated about craft beer, the preference shifts from cheap beer to quality beer. Like wine, craft beer pairs well with almost all food, especially meat. Also like wine, the color of the beer should pair with the meat; e.g. wheat or white ales should pair with poultry, and brown or amber ales should pair with red meat. Some crafty chefs have experimented with cooking with craft beer as well. Following the simple aforementioned pairing guide, chefs have churned out food made with craft beer, which dynamically alters the entire dish. Cooking with alcohol usually burns it all off, allowing minors to order the food, but the reduction process enhances the dish, modifying the flavor to something different than the beer. Do not see it as tasting like a mix of the two – see it as an entirely new dish. Once you eat something prepared with craft beer, you will understand what I mean.

2. Meat in Desserts

UMAMIcatessen‘s Foie Gras & Jelly Donut

How often does one end a meal with a component of the main course? When selecting dessert, people want something sweet, or perhaps a warm drink like coffee or tea. Would you ever expect to eat a dessert contained meat? To some people, they see meat as their choice of comfort food, and thus opt towards something meaty. But if those people ever found out about dessert with meat in it, I doubt I could keep them down for long. This food trend started over a decade ago, when some restaurants served dessert with bacon in or on it. Since people did not accept this change back then, it fell out of favor… until recently. When the good food revolution came about, all sorts of people wanted to explore the culinary world to find out what they had ever missed. One restaurant created a chocolate bar with bacon in it, which got them on the Food Network. Since then, multitudes of restaurants across the world have followed suit, attempting to build working desserts with meat in it. Today, bacon remains the most popular choice for meat in dessert. But with no real limits now, chefs can freely test ideas without getting scrutinized. Fancy some candied duck confit?

1. Crazy Burgers

2nd Floor‘s Sailor Jerry Burger

You cannot start cooking something without the foundation of the dish. Prior to cooking, one needs to know what to make. Will the customer eat food with a knife and fork, or with bare hands? Understanding the template changes the dish completely, and even after selecting the template, building the dish can go any way. With the recent surge of gastropubs, people now look at hamburgers as something gourmet instead of something cheap from fast food places. As a basic template, restaurants can freely throw whatever they want onto a patty and call it a hamburger. Would you like some peanut butter, jelly, bacon, and hot sauce on that burger? How about some pork belly and barbacoa beef? Have you have a burger with chicken and waffles on it? I have tried all of these, and will never stop searching for the ultimate burger. No limit exists in the creation of a hamburger, only that the chef or cook uses a meat (or meat substitute) patty. Erase any preconceived notions you may have about hamburgers. Forget about fast food chains or chain restaurants that will not cook your burger medium rare. You owe yourself a fine (medium rare) burger with toppings that synergize with the patty. Extravagant toppings make the burger look epic, but if they overpower the burger, then you ordered an open-faced sandwich.