I’m still on a foodie fest high after Saturday’s OC Foodie Fest 2010 at the Honda Center in Anaheim! I live in the Los Angeles area and missed out on a similar event in Pasadena in July due to a previous engagement so I was really looking forward to attending. Gourmet food trucks are now the rage with so many different cuisines to choose from—sweet, savory, comfort, fusion, gourmet, and international. Chasing them down is a challenge and thanks to Twitter and sites that focus on tracking the whereabouts of your favorite gourmet trucks (Truxmap, FoodTruckLA, and newbies The FoodTrucker and Roaming Hunger), your favorite truck is as close as your iPhone or Blackberry. But I digress since the focus on this story is OC Foodie Fest and what a fest it was! I will say this though, it was so nice having my pick of any gourmet truck I choose for the day sequestered in one place without having to get in my car and give chase!
I was able to secure two coveted VIP tickets to the event. Spending the extra dollars enabled us to get into the event a half an hour earlier than the general public, preferred seating to the live entertainment, shaded eating areas and its own exclusive bars, free snacks, free beverages from Fiji Water and Honest Tea, and a VIP gift bag with free goodies. And, on top of that, VIP Food Truck sponsors rotated on the hour every hour, offering free samples of their signature dishes for VIP ticket holders to enjoy. This, coupled with the other 40+ gourmet food trucks that would be serving up 9,000+ hungry festival attendees, no one was going to go home hungry! There is a food truck for everyone.
Joining me were two friends—Ceasar O. and Rocky G. who would join me on a foot chase of as many trucks we could try until we could no longer take another bite. Our game plan was to hit as many Asian-based trucks as we could. First stop was Dogzilla, Home of the Japanese Hot Dog. I had the chance to spend some face time with Martin Tse and Bac Dong, owners of Dogzilla. They have cleverly taken an American classic and gave it an Asian Fusion twist. They offered up two dogs for the Fest: Dogzilla, a beef frank with bacon, avocado, grilled onions, fruikake, Japanese mayo and house teriyaki sauce; and my favorite, Yokisoba, a spicy hot link topped with yakisoba noodles, okonohi sauce, red ginger and finished with ao nori. And let me tell you, they did not disappoint, and we started on a high note with Dogzilla. I was struck by the enthusiasm and the passion that these two young entrepreneurs conveyed when talking about their business and after a year serving up their savory dogs, they show no signs of slowing down. Look out for a separate post on Dogzilla, however, if you can’t wait, you can also see them featured on Zen Evolution TV.
We headed over to the VIP area to grab drinks and to strategize. The first VIP Sponsor to offer up a free sample was White Rabbit, a Filipino Fusion truck from LA. Ceasar and Rocky decided to grab samples from White Rabbit while I ventured outside of the VIP area to head out to World Fare, LA’s first double decker “bustaurant”, to order their signature Bunny Chow, a hallowed out loaf or pepper filled with your choice of BBQ pork, curry chicken, lamb curry, vegetarian chili or short rib. Unfortunately, they had an issue with their water supply and told me that they would not be ready until noon so I walked two gourmet food trucks down to Ahn Joo (“snack” in Korean) serving up Korean pub grub. After reviewing their menu, I settled on the Korean Fried Chicken with garlic glaze and pickled daikon radish and their skewered Kimchee Skewered Pork and Roasted Fuji Apple.
White Rabbit offered a sample of their Chicken Adobo Tacos. I was a bit taken aback. I’ve had their tacos before and they are usually served in soft corn tortillas. These samples were served in hard shell corn tortillas and the chicken adobo was topped with loads of salsa. We took one bite of the mini taco and the first thought that popped in our heads was, “where’s the adobo”? Unfortunately, the chicken adobo was lost; all I tasted were “chips” and salsa.
We moved on to Ahn Joo’s pub grub. We tried the Korean Fried Chicken first. One order yielded three chicken drumstucks, perfect for the three of us to share and they were piping hot! We took one bite and were disappointed to get just a tiny hint of the garlic glaze. I felt like I was eating regular fried chicken. I would have loved more of the garlic glaze drizzled generously over the chicken. The skewered Kimchee Skewered Pork and Roasted Fuji Apple were pretty good (a very loose Korean twist on pork chops and applesauce). I liked the sweetness of the roasted Fuji apple and the pork had a nice subtle flavor. A couple pieces of pork were a bit chewy but otherwise, it was not bad.
Next truck up was Dos Chinos. Based in Orange County, Dos Chinos offered up a menu of Asian-infused Latin cuisine. The Garden Grove Short Rib caught my eye, rib eye marinated in Jose Cuervo traditional tequila Korean BBQ sauce and prepared in either a burrito or a taco. I figured you can’t go wrong with a dish where one of the ingredients is tequila! We went for the burrito, easy to divvy up three ways to share. After a couple of bites we were a bit disappointed. The short rib lacked flavor and the refried beans dominated the burrito. Too bad since the dish itself had so much potential.
We decided to shift gears and try something different to take back with us to the VIP area so that we can cool off a bit and get respite from the heat of the sun. We decided on Garlic Wasabi Fries from Dumpling Station. The Garlic Wasabi Fries were perfectly golden and topped with minced fresh garlic, generously drizzled with a wasabi cream sauce—a nice, savory kick to otherwise plain fries. On the other hand, Fry Smith’s Kimchee Fries are shoestring potatoes deep fried till crispy and topped with shredded kurobuta pork belly with kimchi, onions and cheese. We all agreed that the fries were fried just a little too long and that the pork was lost in the kimchi/onion mixture that topped the fries.
After trying both fries and declaring the Garlic Wasabi Fries as the clear winner, we indulged in Dumpling Station’s Chocolate Banana Wontons—a Nutella and banana-filled wonton that is deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Absolutely delicious! It comes three to an order and although it was perfect for the three of us to share, I think the next time, I’ll get my own order!
While we were enjoying Red Roosters with Azunia Tequila, it was Komodo’s turn to serve its signature dish, their Meatballs with Romesco Sauce–pork meatballs crowned with a small dollop of Spanish red bell pepper sauce. Just a tad salty, it was definitely full of flavor and cooked to perfection. The Red Rooster cut through to the saltiness and for me, was enjoyable. And after a few minutes, there were empty paper trays to prove that we enjoyed our meatballs!
Eager to get back and rejoin the throngs of foodies on another truck hunt, the lure of Hawaiian-style BBQ beckoned us to Uncle Lau’s Island BBQ. Uncle Lau’s offers up sandwiches, hamburgers, burritos, tacos and rice bowls with an Island flair. We decided to order the Beef Brisket BBQ, Smoked Pulled Pork and Korean Short Rib Sliders. Between these three, it was a toss up between the Beef Brisket and Pulled Pork sliders as our favorites.
Unfortunately, we had to call it a day at 3pm and head back up to LA. There were so many other trucks I wanted to try but there wasn’t enough time and in four hours, we were only able to tackle six trucks in all. Please remember that these opinions are that of my palate and you may enjoy the very dishes that I just summarized that didn’t quite find favor with me. I wish we could have tried more but I know that there will be other opportunities. Since I live and work in the West Valley, it would be great to see more Gourmet Food Truck presence in similar events such as “Street Eatz” in Calabasas where multiple food trucks can congregate in one place and offer yet another alternative to “eating out”, OR perhaps create the Valley’s own “First Friday” so we wouldn’t have to trek over the hill to Venice.
The gourmet food truck phenomena looks like it is here to stay and I’m excited to see what else pops up on wheels! The OC Foodie Fest event provided a rare opportunity to find so many gourmet food trucks in one place and as attendees, we had their undivided attention. Thanks OC Foodie Fest for coordinating and pulling off a successful event!
A special shout out to The FoodTrucker for providing an awesome, downloadable “unofficial” checklist of all the trucks in attendance at the Fest to help us keep track of what trucks we’ve visited, noting the cuisine for each truck, indicating the ones we liked and disliked, and a space to write in what you ordered. This list was instrumental in strategizing which trucks we would hit for the afternoon. Till next food truck gathering…
GOURMET FOOD TRUCKS:
Uncle Lau’s Island BBQ
OC Foodie Fest
Facebook: OC Foodie Fest
Zen Evolution TV