You know that feeling before an exam when you think you are on top of everything, and then a friend comes in to your room and tells you about some chapter or book that you completely overlooked, which makes your smile turns to a frown? That’s exactly what’s happened with me and food-trucks in the city – only I don’t have to write an exam about it, only this post.
When the food-truck revolution happened a few months back, I was on top of them – not literally. I was able to cover them as and when they started operations, and I did foresee the charm of the “trucks” as becoming more than about food as they were a good business investment.
What I did not expect, even though I should have thought of this considering how we in this country really “pick up” good ideas in the hope of making a “quick buck” – the startup craze for an example – was that so many trucks would enter the market in such a short period of time – would you believe, I just got a notification right now that another one “launched” today. In just a couple of months, food-trucks have multiplied at an astonishing rate. Stone oven pizzas, kebabs, South-East Asian, Italian, and fusion food; everything is being attempted and it isn’t possible for me to stay on top of them – again, not literally – anymore. There is however no good sandwich – not wraps, not burgers, but a proper toastie – food-truck operating at this time, in case you were planning to join the brigade.
I also use the term “truck” loosely because all sorts of automobiles are now being converted into food cooking and dispensing mobile establishments. Thankfully, due to another trend that has caught up – food festivals – the trucks have been able to capture the right audience. So, instead of running all around the city, it’s become a little easier for the customer to try food from the various food-trucks which can now be found parked at the festivals.
Since, I haven’t been able to taste the offerings of a particular truck in detail – and thus can’t officially do a full review – I thought it better to present some of the hot picks and duds from what I’ve tasted off food-trucks in the last couple of months.
The Paneer Shawarna – The Arab Knights
When I approached The Arab Knights food-truck, which by the way is the biggest I’ve seen so far in the city, there was a long line waiting patiently for their Chicken Shawarna. Fat dripping, crispy at some places and slightly charred at others, rotating gently on the rotisserie, if there was one time – okay fine, maybe the tenth time – I regretted turning vegetarian, it was now. Since my “turning vegetarian” phase is experimental, I debated whether I should just stand in line or instead listen to the little white clothed angle sitting on my shoulder. Considering the “vegetarian” section was empty, I did let my will win this one time and ordered the Paneer Shawarna.
Possibly the best I’ve had till date, what made the Arab Knights paneer amazing was that it had been marinated beautifully and cooked almost tikka like, added with all the condiments in a soft, yet thick enough “wrap” making this one of my all time favourites, so much so that I offered a “bite” to the Wife with a very heavy heart.
Now, I can only imagine if the Paneer Shawarna was this good, how heavenly the chicken version was … I can only imagine.
Stone Baked Paneer Pizza – Rocketchefs
If the Arab Knights had the biggest truck, then Rocketchefs have the smallest one that I have come across. A tiny “tempo” fitted with stone oven(s), their pizzas came of the freezer; although, after eating it, I’m pretty sure they had been made and frozen recently.
While the toppings were nothing exotic, similar to a number of “paneer” pizzas, the base – thin, but not that thin – was what made all the difference. It had a lightness and crunch – no crackle – to it that took away from it being doughy and made the ingredients prominent. So, if you’ve got kids who are anything like mine and will only eat pizza or pasta when out, then this is definitely recommended. I only wish, they could come up with a way to make it “fresh”, but that does not take away from the fact that I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Vegetarian Kebab Taco – The Rolling Bistro by Forkilicious
Fusion is what they do and they’ve got the right idea about it; I mean combining taco and kebab might seem continents apart, but there is something there that could make them work. However, ideas don’t just make a man – or a woman or a food-truck for that matter – and as in most businesses, execution is the name of the game.
First off, taco for me is a little crispy and crunchy whereas what I got was more of a tortilla, which in turn makes it much closer to a wrap – although in this case it remained a distant cousin. What I envisioned was a taco filled with kebab and lots of greens, onions, a couple of different complimenting sauces, basically a hard to hold, filled to the top taco that would break and crumble with the first bite. Instead it’s the crossover tortilla-taco with a kebab that tasted nice but could have been cooked a little longer, and some onions on the side along with some hari-chutney.
A missed opportunity definitely, but, it is not something that can’t be easily rectified. Fusion is a lot more than just ideas coming together, so hopefully a little working, and some more additions to the taco could make this very much desirable.
Vegetarian Balinese Rice – Drifter’s Cafe
When I reviewed Drifter’s Cafe – a week after they had started- I hoped that they would in time experiment more with the food. I’m happy to say that over the months they have really been giving food a lot of thought and have played around with different ideas and tastes – Not taking credit for what they’ve done. It has been all of their own doing.
Their Vegetarian Balinese Rice, I was forewarned is slightly on the spicier side, and I would just like to clarify and further forewarn you that the curry is a little more than “slightly spicier”. However, the spiciness attacks the mouth, but surprisingly it’s not the type that lingers in the throat, only to leave a drastic stamp of its presence in the chest for a little while longer.
Spiciness – I’m always in two minds about it – and personal biology aside, the curry has a nice dark reddish colour to it and comes loaded with a variety of vegetables and flavouring leaves – which I loved – and a powerful coconut taste. It does have a slight chalky red paste aftertaste to it, and coconut along with the spiciness does overpower everything else; still the plainness of the rice – which at first I found disappointing – negates it and calms it down a little with each succeeding spoonful.
Recommended you ask? Ummmmm… I think if you like spicy food – as most people I know do – you will enjoy it, but for me though, I’ll take the Korean Rice Bowl from Fig that I tried a while back and loved.