Louks To Go Truck: Mmmmm…Delicious

Today I woke up hungry. It felt like I hadn’t eaten in an eternity; I was longing for something that would really, deeply satisfy me.

How delicious to be surprised by the enormous Louks To Go truck, waiting there – quietly, enticingly – on Wilshire Blvd.

Louks knows what you like

When I came up close to the truck, I could see that the Louks guys were happy to see me. And…wow…everything looked so fresh and tasty.

My hunger returned – in force – just looking at what was on display.

Alec gives great gyro

I asked Alec what he likes, and he was very quick to show me (there was a menu of specials in the window, next to him). He said the “Louks” were good, but I wasn’t interested in his small, doughy balls. Besides, I wanted something savory and delicious that I could really sink my teeth into. So I asked if his shwarma leaves people satisfied. He assured me it’s very, very good and then offered me a taste. I wanted it. So I asked him for his entire beef gyro. He smiled and promised that I’d be pleased.

When he handed it to me it was hot, although – truth be told – I was a little disappointed in the size (I like a really meaty gyro). But the good thing about the size was how easily it fit into my mouth. This way I could take a lot of it in at once and savor everything that was going on.

Hot

Inside the somewhat thin pita was beef shwarma (a little greasy, unfortunately), [too many] red onions, tomatoes and french fries! I loved the idea of the fries, but they were overpowered by the flavorful pita and also took away from the fresh taste of the vegetables; in the end, they felt like a waste of calories. Next time, I decided I might have a little something on the side, instead.

The tzatziki sauce was yummy and finger-licking good. There was so much of it that it got all over everything!

Despite the diminutive stature, there was more to that gyro than I expected and it was almost too much for me. When I went back to the truck to clean myself off, Aki was attentive and sensitive to everything I needed. He gave me what I asked for. Actually, he gave me even more than I asked for; I ended up with a huge stack of napkins and some handi-wipes. Dreamy.

Aki knows how to please a woman

I can’t wait to go back to Louks To Go. Please. I want to go back again and again. And again.

I really like gyros.

Flying Pig Truck: Eating Pork When Pigs Fly

Flying Pig truck

 

I remember an Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episode (pretty sure it was Indonesia) where Tony couldn’t stop praising the perfection of pig. Roasted pig, to be precise. I get hungry just thinking about it.

Problem is, I don’t eat pork. Except when I do. When I don’t, it’s because – despite being the other white meat – I’ve heard too many doctors deride its healthfulness. Even more difficult to swallow is the fact that pigs are actually incredibly intelligent (most experts put them on the same level of intelligence – or higher – as the brightest among man’s best friends). Yet factory farming conditions are beyond brutal for these little piggies, and when you add up this info, the natural conclusion is that pigs are tortured – and are smart enough to realize they’re miserable. That’s enough to put me off bacon for life.

When I do eat pork, it’s as a delicious indulgence and generally under conditions where I know the pigs were raised in a humane environment and weren’t pumped full of a pharmacy’s worth of meds. If I’m going to eat pig, you see, I prefer it to be Happy Pig – the kind that is allowed to frolic freely in fields of daisies, routing through the muck on their own terms before being cut down in the cement room of some cold, barren, windowless slaughterhouse somewhere…

I tried to put all of this aside when trying the Flying Pig truck.

 

In case you give a flying...pig...here's the menu

All of my hypocrisy aside, this little piggy tastes awesome. I started with the braised pork belly with red onion escabeche and sesame cucumber. Served on a Chinese bun (think Peking duck), the close-up photo I took looked way too much like lady parts to post on this site, but the flavor (of the appetizer – no idea about lady parts), was incredible and amazing. Maybe a little too much fat for my taste, but it’s hard to order pork belly and not expect a healthy serving of pre-processed lard. Certainly it was tasty enough to think about trying again…is it possible to order pork belly a little on the lean side? (Of course I kid).

Flying Pig food

 

I split the rest of my lunch with my ex-husband (cuz I care about humane living conditions for pigs and exes, in almost equal measure). On the menu was one of each of their tacos of the day: grilled beef short rib with oyster mushroom and death sauce;  spicy pork with green papaya and cilantro cream; tamarind duck with toasted almond and pickled beet salad and smoked chicken with green curry and napa slaw.

Flying beef short rib

Is it pretentious to call something “obnoxiously good?” May I do it anyway? Man, this was delicious. A great balance of flavors and textures. Terrific spice. Absolutely one of the best things I tried off the truck. And I don’t say that about just anything.

 

Spicy Flying pork

The spicy pork taco packs a big, flavorful punch. So powerful, in fact, that the meat is a little overwhelmed by the super spicy sauce. Although, to be fair, I could eat the sauce with a spoon. It’s spicy, but not in a frat-boy-hazing-prank kind of way. There is an incredible balance and richness (I bet it’s called butter). The sauce is rich, luxurious and hot as hell. The meat just wasn’t good enough to stand up and be counted against this powerhouse. And, like with the pork belly bun, it was also a little too fatty for my comfort zone (comfort zone here meaning that area underneath the waistband of my jeans that wishes to remain chafe-free).

 

Flying tamarind duck

Is this picture blurry because I was shaking with the anticipation of scarfing down my duck taco faster than a super-spy trying to swallow the world’s last antidote for some potent poison? Why, yes. In fact, it is. The duck tamarind taco is a divine combination of roasted (?) duck, tangerine, watercress, toasted almonds, beet salad and magic. A lot of magic. And some love.

 

Flying smoked chicken

Lastly – in a culinary upset no doubt upsetting to fowl near and far – the chicken in this taco tasted like pork. Tender, juicy deliciousness. The smoked chicken taco is supersaturated with loads of savory stuff, and at $2.75, you definitely get your money’s worth (prices are higher than listed on the website). Unfortunately,  aside from the flavor of the meat, I found this taco to be a little on the bland side. It was big and innovative and I loved everything about it…except for the fact that it just didn’t taste like anything.

Or maybe it’s that the grilled beef and the tamarind duck were so good, the spicy pork and the pork-flavored chicken just couldn’t compare. Which is a good thing for me, because it makes repeat visits to the Flying Pig truck not something to schedule when pigs fly.

Incidentally, I washed all of this down with a Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew I just happened to have on hand, and – lemme tell you – the pairing could not have been more perfect. Just a suggestion, porcine pilots… It really was a truly divine taste combination.

Green Truck: For the Birds

 

Green Truck

Hoping to get the whole family involved in my trucking new hobby, I brought my son with me today when I went scouting for mobile munchies.

I decided to try Green Truck. For one thing, I don’t mind subjecting myself to the various unknowns in these locomotive lunches (although I think most of the trucks strive to serve “healthier,” locally sourced fare, when available), but because I know that Green Truck serves only organic, fresh food, I obviously preferred this for my kid. Also, I don’t often see it around, and wanted to jump at the opportunity while I had the chance.

Green Truck menu

So…there wasn’t anything that immediately wowed me on the menu, although the curry chicken special looked interesting. I decided, instead, on the chicken burrito because eating with my kid is adventure enough.

Although what did impress me was the “Wilshire” part of the menu. This implied that the menu changes, depending on location. I decided to ask my friendly, neighborhood Green Truck maitre d’everything, Mindy, for more detail.

Mindy

Mindy confirmed that, yes indeed, the Green Truck menu is as changing as the seasons. For example, she told me that they were at PETA the day prior, so they featured an exclusively vegetarian and vegan menu. But since this strip of Wilshire features such businesses as E! Entertainment and Variety magazine, I figured they needed a lot of red meat on hand today (but no bison, although it is featured fairly regularly).

I ordered Zach a hot dog and fries (they were sold out of their sweet potato fries, which are – apparently – the proverbial bomb).

 

Green {Truck} food!

I’m not impressed.

For one thing, the burrito was teeny-weeny, (although the actual weeny was really big). Encased in the flour tortilla were black beans, brown rice, grilled? green peppers and onions, tomatoes and cheese. And…pink. Beets? I didn’t see beets. But the interior of my burrito was pink (not a euphemism). Does this seem weird to you? Yeah, me too…

Despite the oddly disturbing presence of pink – and the the overall lack of flavor – I managed to make quick work of my lunch. Although I was starving, starting out…

Bye-bye burrito

But the fries were a whole different story. I suppose you wouldn’t understand if I said they tasted just like my dad’s homemade fries, so I won’t say that. But I will say that they were soggy – like I love – while still being golden brown and packed with flavor. I wondered if they were fried with onions, because of the distinctive taste. My friend, Debra, who had come along for the sunshine, thought they looked twice-fried. These, my friends, were golden spears of pure, greasy deliciousness. Win!

Hot dog!

Apparently my son liked them, too, because most of his efforts focused on the fries, and not on the giant hot dog. So I tried a bite. It was…ok. A bit dry. A slight taste of…something… Nutmeg? Kind of German-sausage-tasting. Would’ve been great – especially since the cows that ended up stuffed into the casing were all grass fed and free range – if it just wasn’t so damn dry.

But then what happens? I turned around to take some more pictures and asked Z to finish his food. Instead, he takes the opportunity to go off and examine the pretty fountain, and a swarm of seagulls helped themselves to that giant hot dog. Z complained that he wasn’t done with the fries. Then asked for more lemonade. Kids.

A Tale of Two Taco Trucks

Miracle Mile lunch trucks

This afternoon I wandered up to the strip on Wilshire Blvd between Fairfax and Hauser that has become Lunch Truck Central (so much so, in fact, that brick-and-mortar restaurants have lobbied for legislation that has seriously cracked down on their presence there). This Miracle Mile spot is a goldmine for lunch trucks between noon and 2 pm. Today did not disappoint.

Since this is my first post, I decided to try two trucks at once. Because all of the available trucks were serving tacos, I pitted one chicken taco against another, in a battle royale of chicken tacorificness. The winner? Well…me, of course.

I chose to try bool bbq and Kimchi 21. Bool bills itself as “The perfect marriage of asian [sic] flavors with staples of central and south american [sic] culinary history. Bool is what fusion should be.” Kimchi 21, God bless ‘em, doesn’t appear to have a web presence (wha?), but is also a Korean fusion taco truck.

bool's menu

Kimchi 21

Kimchi 21

As initially off-putting as “Korean fusion taco truck” might sound, Chef Roy of Kogi BBQ fathered a revolution when he combined the Korean flavors he grew up with, with one of LA’s many native cuisines – in this case, Mexican. The end result was Korean-spiced meats in a traditional Mexican tortilla, with accents like cilantro and chopped onion. Holy bibimbap, is that stuff good.

Can bool and Kimchi 21 compare? This is what I set out to see.

Tacos de bool

The chicken taco from bool was a slightly greasy, sharp and tangy, two corn tortilla number, filled with grilled chicken, cabbage, tomato salsa, onion and cilantro. I sensed some kind of pineapple essence in the sauce. It was delicious and I inhaled it, washed down with a $2 can of Mexican Coke (read: cane sugar, no high fructose corn syrup). However, my friend John ordered a shrimp taco and was disappointed. He said the sauce overpowered the delicate sea creatures, leaving nothing of the meat except the sensation of chewing something rubbery.

Big bite of bool goodness

Kimchi 21 was not quite the same experience. Although it was a faster wait for my food, I didn’t find it as flavorful, despite being slathered in what seemed like a sort of peanut sauce.

 

Kim-gee, I wish these were yummier

The Kimchi 21 tacos were American style (compared to bool’s Mexican street taco style), with lettuce, tomato, cheese and diced onion, served – like bool’s – in a double layer of corn tortilla.

I’ve gotta go with bool on this one (although maybe I should do a head-to-head shrimp-off next time). I loved the textures, the slight heat and the flavor. I felt like Kimchi 21 just didn’t show up to play.

BUT… I don’t recommend the Brazilian pastel from bool that ended my meal. This deep fried pastry (what’s not to love?), was filled with chocolate and banana. Only less chocolate and more banana than I would’ve liked. It was also reeaallly sweet and the crust felt a little more egg-roll then beignet.

 

Banana-chocolate pastel with flowers

Go for the tacos, don’t stay for dessert.