Today was the third Mobile Chowdown in Seattle, which is best described as a gathering of all the local food trucks in one place. The first one was last summer, and Irwin and I attempted to go, but when we got there it was an absolute zoo. It was less an “event” and more of a “hey, let’s park all the trucks here this afternoon!” sort of thing, so they were completely unprepared for the crowds that showed up. When we arrived two hours into the event trucks were out of food, the lines for all the trucks were insane, and the parking lot they were gathered in was just too small to contain the number of people. You couldn’t tell where one line ended and the next one started, never mind move around to get into a line. I’d done a long run that morning and was approaching a Desperate Need for Food, so we abandoned ship and got lunch somewhere else.
This time, things were much, much better. It was an actual event sponsored by Seattle Magazine, and they were set up in the Seattle Center where there was plenty of room for people to walk around, form lines, and sit and eat. The trucks themselves also seemed better prepared, as I didn’t see any indications that the trucks were running out of items. Plus, I made sure to get there right at 11 a.m. when it started, so my initial wait in line was incredibly short. Sadly, Irwin was busy today, so he didn’t get to join me. I took myself and the camera and spent a couple of hours sampling the highlights. There were too many trucks for me to try everything, so I tried to stick to things that looked interesting that I hadn’t had before. The first truck I happened upon was Maximus Minimus, which totally wins for “Best Truck Design.”
They specialize in BBQ sandwiches, so I ordered a pork sandwich with maximus sauce and Beecher’s flagship cheese. On the side, I got a bit of the minimus slaw.
This was outstanding. My only complaint is that the sauce wasn’t as spicy as I was expecting. It was good, but there was absolutely zero heat to it – I would order it “with hurt” (extra spicy) next time. The cheddar-like cheese was a nice complement to the pork (although I think pretty much everything is improved by the addition of cheese) and the bun had the perfect texture – it was firm enough to have a good chew to it and to stand up to the saucy pork without getting soggy, but it was soft enough to bite into without squooshing all of the sandwich contents out the back of the bun. The slaw was pretty simple – cabbage, a light dressing and dried cranberries – with a sweet refreshing flavor. I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on where these guys show up in the future.
I did a lap of the trucks after finishing my sandwich, scoping out my options and forming my plan of attack. My next stop was Koi Fusion PDX, a Korean-Mexican fusion truck that had made the trip up from Portland for the event. Since they aren’t local and had a pretty sizeable line, I figured they were worth checking out. Their menu featured Korean BBQ meats (bulgogi, short ribs, spicy chicken, etc) served in tacos, burritos and quesadillas. I ordered a bulgogi taco, which came topped with hot sauce, slaw, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.
Again: outstanding. The beef had a nice, sweet flavor to it that was well-balanced by the toppings. I would have liked a bit more spice in it, but since bulgogi isn’t really a spicy dish to begin with, I can’t complain. What I can complain about is the fact that this truck is based in Portland, since it means it’ll be a good long while before I can sample their wares again. This was the longest line I waited in – it was a little over an hour from the time I got in line to the time I got food. I was OK with that, though, since it gave me time to digest my sandwich from Maximus Minimus before being faced with more food.
At this point, I took a break for dessert. I’d spotted a “build your own ice cream sandwich” option on the menu of the Street Treats truck, so that’s where I headed. They had several different cookies and flavors of ice cream available for you to design your own dessert. I went for dark chocolate ice cream on peanut butter cookies (although the peanut butter ice cream on chocolate chip cookies was a strong contender as well).
The peanut butter cookies were great – crisp enough to not get soggy, but soft enough to eat without forcing the ice cream out the back. The dark chocolate ice cream was pretty good. It wasn’t overly sweet (which was good), but it struck me as more of a “chocolate” than “dark chocolate.” It didn’t stop me from enjoying it, but I was hoping for a slightly stronger flavor.
My last stop of the day was at the Marination truck, where I ordered a miso ginger chicken taco and an aloha pork slider.
I promise that pile of food is actually two separate items. The taco? Was fantastic. It was served with slaw, pickled jalapenos, lime and their special sauce. The sauce was sweet and tangy, which was a nice counterpoint to the spicy jalapenos. The lime juice added a lovely brighter note to the taste, as well. Sadly, the slider wasn’t quite as good for me. The pork was very heavy – it reminded me of a rillette, actually. I don’t know if it was the heat, but it just wasn’t appealing to me at all. It was too heavy and too salty and overwhelmed the freshness of the slaw it was topped with. That said, the bread that it was served on? Was delicious. It was a Hawaiian sweet bread, and I ate most of that even though I barely touched the meat.
The one truck I didn’t make it to that I would have liked to try was Where Ya At?, which was serving New Orleans-style food. The menu included po’ boys, muffaletta and beignets. I tried to work up the desire for a po’ boy, but it just wasn’t happening. I was just too stuffed. Irwin and I will just have to try and catch these guys at some other time (a plan I’m sure he’ll be 100% on board with).
I had good intentions of running some errands while I digested and then heading out for a (much-needed) run this afternoon, but it never happened. By the time I was done driving around, I was so wiped out from being in the hot sun all day that I just couldn’t fathom the idea of running in it. I suppose I could have gone running this morning, except I woke up when Irwin did (his second alarm went off while he was in the shower this morning), so I joined him and his friends for a pre-event breakfast at Brown Bag. As soon as I saw the special board, I knew exactly what I was going to order: peanut-butter banana french toast.
French toast stuffed with a peanut butter-cream cheese filling, topped with bananas. I skipped the whipped cream and syrup, and it was everything I hoped it would be. Even better: the peanut butter filling was made with crunchy peanut butter, which is my absolute favorite. Totally made up for the unnecessarily early wake-up, for sure.
Read Full Post »