Last weekend Dine Out Vancouver organized Street Food City III with a variety of food trucks over several days offering their fare on the not-so-green lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown.
The trio (D, baby and I) went on Saturday for lunch. We hit great sunny weather, although still brisk, which influenced what we ate. I was on a mission to finally try J.J.’s Trucketeria and Vij’s Railway Express, which were two of the trucks among a dozen or so advertised to be there for this event.
From Vij’s Railway Express we tried the butter chicken schnitzel with basmati rice and naan as sides. It was an average portion of food with a cost of $12.50. I’m guessing Vij is trying for fusion here, but I didn’t like the texture of the battered chicken in the curry. My mouth was anticipating succulent soft chicken instead of crunchy chicken bits. I know heat and spice is a personal preference but I found this dish to have above-average heat so beware! The way I judge is if I can enjoy the chicken curry on its own, or if I need the rice or naan to assist. I definitely needed the rice or naan to help temper the chicken. I enjoyed the aromatics in the rice but found the naan quite bland. I don’t know if my expectations were too high, given that I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner at Vij’s restaurant.
Currently I think there are two Filipino food trucks in Vancouver that I’ve heard of and J.J.’s Trucketeria is one of them. We ordered the Garlic Fried Rice Big Plate and the portion size did live up to its name, especially given it was only $8! There was a generous portion of pork barbeque which the carnivore in me can always appreciate. However, in terms of taste the barbeque itself on the Filipino spectrum of barbeque was somewhere right of tocino (sweet cured pork) and traditional Filipino pork barbeque (some sweetness but more savoury). J.J.’s pork was a bit overcooked and heavily glazed. I did enjoy the rustic style of the cut of meat, slightly larger than bite-sized chunks, as it enhanced the “big plate” experience. The fried rice had just the right amount of garlic and it all went well with the sunny side up egg. The plate came with J.J.’s vinegar, which was probably made up of white vinegar, mustard and chili sauce. It was too spicy for me and I didn’t need it to enjoy the dish.
Now at this point I thought I was full but in need of a beverage. Unfortunately most of the trucks were offering canned or bottled drinks and I wanted something more original or unique or warm. I went over to The Juice Truck but the line up was so long and we were getting colder by the minute. By sheer luck The Juice Truck was parked right beside Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck. The line up to order was shorter and they were offering hot cocoa with marshmallows, so I stepped up. However, the aroma and the long line of folks waiting patiently for their orders encouraged me to also order a grilled cheese sandwich. At Mom’s you get to choose your bread, baked fresh everyday. I chose Sourdough. You also choose from several cheeses, I chose Provolone. You can add things like tomatoes, extra pickets, etc. but I decided to keep it simple. I was tempted to add a shot of soup (either tomato or chili) but I didn’t want to push my luck since I was supposed to be full. In terms of ambiance Mom’s truck was the friendliest and seemed to be the most fun from the three I visited. They talked a lot to the customers as they waited and a couple of the workers sang songs together that were playing inside the truck while on the assembly line making the sandwiches. It was a bit of a wait but one I would experience time and again. The sandwich was quite large and easily could have been shared between two people. I loved the overall crunch. The bread crusts were not too thick so the crunch was even throughout the sandwich. It was oozing in cheese and you could tell it was grilled open faced first because of the slight baked spots you could see and taste in-between the slices of cheese. The pickle was a nice touch and the potato chips at the bottom of the cone, which helped prop up the sandwich, was a great surprise. Apparently the chips are locally sourced from the Fraser Valley. On top of that they served me piping hot cocoa. It was soooo good and went down smooth. It did not leave my throat burning like some cocoa does (not from the heat but rather as a reflection of the lower quality of cocoa used in those other drinks). Great pair on such a wintry day!