New GFT: Kala Truck hits the streets of OC

My sister Becky is my guest blogger, offering her report on food trucks from the Teller & Michelson lunch lot in Irvine, CA. This is probably the last report from the Teller Lot, as SeabirdsTruck reported that the lot is being converted to a car rental place.


 

Kala Truck made their Teller Lot debut on Wednesday in a very big and memorable way. They describe their style of cooking as “Artful Mexican Cuisine.” and represented just that.  At the front window, they artfully display each of their tacos (beef, pork, chicken, shrimp) over a bed of colorful tortilla chips (apologies for the plastic wrap over it). Each taco order has 2 items. 

Their Patron taco is the most popular of the four choices. After ordering it, I can understand why – tender, flavorful steak served with pico de gallo, creamy guacamole and queso fresco.

Patron taco

The Sweet Piggy taco is also just how it sounded – slow cooked pulled pork that just melt-in-your-mouth with each bite. There is an added note of sweetness that is just enough to excite, but not overwhelm your palate. The jicama slaw on top added a nice crunchy texture.

Sweet Piggy

The creamy roasted poblanos with organic corn is also topped with queso fresco accompanied with a handful of their house made tortilla chips. There is a noticeable theme in that great attention was paid to not only how the food tasted, but also how it looked / presented.

Artful Mexican Cuisine, indeed!

Problanos with corn

To celebrate their debut, a mariachi band came out to perform in front of their truck. For a moment, I thought I was on vacation as I sipped on their refreshing watermelon juice (with a hint of habanero and a twist of lime) and took a moment to enjoy the show.

Watermelon juice w/ habanero

Additional items on their menu (not pictured) were
Cochinita sliders (pulled pork sliders),
Cajun shrimp tacos,
Citrus chicken tacos,
Piggy fries (fries served with pulled pork, guacamole, crema),
Kala quesadilla (stuffed with cremini and button mushrooms, caramelized onions, epazote, mozzarella, pepper and jack cheeses),
Queso fundido (similar to a classic chili, but with chorizo, mixed with cheeses and served with chips)
Citrus quinoa and
Epazote black beans

Follow Kala Truck on twitter at @KalaTruck
www.kalatruck.com

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Irvine: Taco Maria

My sister Becky is my guest blogger, offering her report on food trucks from the Teller & Michelson lunch lot in Irvine, CA

 



The aracherra (beef) taco




mole de pollo (chicken) taco



I don’t normally get very excited about tacos. Don’t get me wrong, I do like tacos, but I can’t say my heart would race upon thinking of eating one. That is, until I had a Taco Maria taco.

The aracherra taco included generous cubes of grilled marinated hangar steak with caramelized onion, bacon and charred shishito pepper on top. Before you even take a bite, you had to stop and admire it like a work of art.  The hangar steak was so tender and juicy, it took no effort at all to eat. The shishito peppers brought just the right amount of spiciness. I have no idea what went in to creating such an addicting sauce. Whatever it was, I wanted more.

In addition, I ordered the mole de pollo taco, a chicken thigh taco stewed with chocolate, chile and figs and topped with toasted almonds, a little cheese and onions. I normally pass on chicken tacos (pork and beef always take preference), but this one certainly held my attention. I liked how the toasted almonds brought a little crunch factor to each bite.

Similar to the arancherra taco, the mole de pollo taco also had so many interesting flavors with each bite. There was a sweetness to the sauce from the chocolate that was just enough to detect, but not too much to think it should be a dessert. The chicken was moist and tender, making it way too easy to eat. Before I knew it, my food was gone. I wanted more.

Recap of Tasting Spoon + Taco Maria’s Prix Fixe Brunch

On Saturday, March 10, gourmet food trucks Taco Maria and (Chef Joe Youkhan’s) Tasting Spoon joined forces to create an amazing 4 course prix fixe brunch at the SoCo Farmer’s Market in Costa Mesa, CA.   My family attended this event, and my sister provided me with a recap on the event.


Chef Salgado and Chef Youkhan paid attention to every detail to make their first brunch a near flawless success. When you arrive, you see a private tent surrounded by tall, potted plants.

Upon check-in, you received an envelope with artfully designed tickets containing each course served, and a choice of either bottled water or a selection of juices.  Then, you are seated at a table covered in crisp, white table cloths, silverware and a vase of fresh cut flowers. Sure, the table cloths are disposable and the silverware is faux (though looked like the real thing), but hey, you are sitting in a parking lot at a food truck event.


The first introduction was the amuse bouche, an egg yolk topped with cotija cream, and you can’t help but wonder where you are. This did not look like something you’d think would come out of a food truck. The egg was artfully presented in a half shell, perched above a bed of salt in a (faux) glass bowl. It was delightful to eat as it was to admire.

From there, the tag team begins. Tasting Spoon started the first course with a ragu of wild mushrooms over polenta. The wild mushrooms had a nice meaty and earthy texture, contrasting with the smooth and silky polenta that nearly melted in your mouth. 

The dungeness crab served by Taco Maria held its own. A vibrant violent colored shellfish broth infused with wild flowers was poured tableside (see picture of broth being poured). Each bite was full of delicious crab, enhanced by the delicate broth.

Tasting Spoon came back just as strong with the next course, duck three ways. The duck egg yolk was a little redundant, having just had a chicken egg yolk as an amuse bouche, but cooked perfectly runny atop a crisp and airy brioche. The hollandaise sauce had a hint of foie gras to further add decadence to the dish.

Taco Maria ended the meal with fresh charred strawberries, vanilla goat yogurt and granola. These strawberries were charred just enough to be slightly warm, yet still retain the integrity of the fruit. The yogurt and granola added a nice balance of tanginess and crunchiness to complete the meal.

Despite both trucks appearing so different both in cuisine (Mexican vs Italian) and style (Taco Maria’s refined elegance vs Tasting Spoon’s casual comfort), each course was a seamless transition to the next. You would have thought the entire brunch was made by just one truck.
 
The brunch was certainly not a duel between Chef Youkhan and Chef Salgado, it was a collaborative effort. Who would have guessed such quality dishes could be enjoyed at a parking lot in the middle of Costa Mesa?
 
The only thing missing from this brunch to make it perfect would have been an ocean view and a flute of champagne.
 
Bravo! When is the next event?

Irvine: Tamarindo Truck

Tamarindo Truck was at the Teller Lot today.  The last visit was their debut back in September.
Their menu had changed since the first visit, and the pork torta was calling out to me. Every ingredient was chosen deliberately for the meal, and made with care: succulent and flavorful pork, a creamy black bean spread, Oaxaca cheese, mixed greens, tomato and a dash of their homemade salsa to add a little spice. There was even a sliver of dill. I don’t believe dill is normally found in tortas, and I thought it really added something new and exciting to such a traditional staple dish. 


I can’t wait to see what new items Tamarindo will be making for the New Year.



Irvine: Seabirds truck

My sister Becky is my guest blogger, offering her report on food trucks from the Teller & Michelson lunch lot in Irvine, CA

 

Seabirds Truck sported the longest line at the Teller lot, converting a lot of meat eaters into vegan (at least one day for lunch).

One guy, who looked like the type that would have preferred Baconmania next door, was so impressed with the beet salad they served that he circled back to the front to compliment the girls on making the best salad he ever had.

A newbie stood in line behind me, not knowing at first that Seabirds was a vegan truck. Feeling slightly skeptical upon hearing that, she asked for recommendations. When I pointed out the avocado tacos, she immediately exclaimed, “I love avocado!” and gladly waited in line with the rest of us.

Seabird’s famous avocado tacos is the item to order for any newbie. The creaminess of the avocado surrounded by a light crunchy batter is perfectly enhanced with a dollop of a very addicting “Seabirds sauce” you swear has real dairy in it.

Additional specials include a gluten-free mac and “cheese.” Loaded with fresh mushrooms, herbs, and a hint of garlic and red onion, you certainly feel more “guilt-free” after eating it!   



The Mac and “Cheese”



Avocado tacos

Irvine: The Tamarindo Truck

My sister Becky is my guest blogger, reporting on food trucks from the Teller & Michelson lunch lot in Irvine, CA

The Tamarindo Truck, an OC truck that serves, “Fresh Mexican Delights,” made their debut today at the Wednesday Teller Lot.  Their menu is limited to 6 items, (two tortas, two tacos and two tamales).


Their chipotle pork taco is stuffed with carnitas, slowly cooked for over 10 hours, served with fresh cilantro and a creamy serrano salsa. Instead of raw onions, they top marinated onions, while the fish taco is lightly grilled for those who want a healthier option. 

The tamale options include vegetarian (mushrooms, onions, carrots) and chicken.

Chipotle pork taco



Fish taco



Chicken tamale 

Grilled Cheese Patrol Truck

My friend Sandy stopped by the Grilled Cheese Patrol Truck …
   I wanted “the Not Guilty” (Pepper Jack Cheese with a blend on Sauteed Mushrooms, Carrots, Zucchini & Sliced Red Onions on Wheat Bread), but he was out. He quickly offered me an avocado, tomato with my choice of cheese and sliced or carmelized onions for the same price. I figured what the hey and chose the pepper jack with carmelized onions. Mmmmm! I think I’m going to like this truck!

Irvine: Brats Berlin

My sister Becky is my guest blogger, reporting on food trucks from the Teller & Michelson lunch lot in Irvine, CA.

Brats Berlin made an appearance at the Teller Lot today. I got the chicken and apple sausage with sweet and spicy peppers while my co-worker got the original bratwurst with peppers and grilled onions, and added the Belgian cut fries and a Jones soda.

Chicken & Apple Sausage with sweet & spicy peppers

Bratwurst with grilled onions & peppers

Irvine: Tasting Spoon

My sister Becky is my guest blogger, reporting on food trucks from the Teller & Michelson lunch lot in Irvine, CA.

Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon debut at the Teller Lot this week following their grand opening on July 4th. A former Executive Chef at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel and several years of experience in restaurant management and catering, Chef Joe’s newly minted OC food truck will certainly elevate the food truck scene.


His truck may be a mouthful to remember, but his menu is simple Italian cuisine serving grilled artisinal pizzas, pizza pinwheels (ie calzones), tasty bites and sweet bites in addition to his chef’s specials. I ordered a margherita pizza made with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a San Marzano tomato sauce. There’s a convection oven inside the truck, which cranks out pizzas and calzones at lightening fast speed. I also ordered the chef’s special calamari, which also came with a marinara dipping sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes.


Another interesting item on his menu that I’ve never seen at Italian restaurants in So. Cal are arancini. These are the perfect food truck snacks of his tasty bites menu consisting of risotto balls stuffed with Italian sausage, mozzarella and tomato sauce and deep fried until golden brown. From what I could see (sorry, no picture), they look just like the ones I remember eating in Italy.

Newest OC truck, Tasting Spoon

Margherita Pizza

Chef Calamari

Irvine: SeabirdsTruck, Refresh

My sister Becky is my guest blogger, reporting on food trucks from the Teller & Michelson lunch lot in Irvine, CA.

I ordered Seabird’s famous avocado tacos (so famous, it was on Good Morning America).

My co-worker got Ahi spring rolls from new OC truck, Refresh.  While it was still tasty, it was very disappointing to see a rather skinny roll the size of a soy sauce package.

Avocado tacos from Seabirds

Ahi Spring Rolls from new truck, Refresh