Food Cart Fest! (And sushi)

I’ll admit I’ve been a little bit bummed out about eating out since I came back from my Japan and Taiwan travels.  Yes, I will eventually finish that series.  Eventually.  Anyway, food here is just so expensive!  And when it comes down to it, the Chinese/Japanese food here just can’t compare.  But, at the same time, it’s hard to find wood-fired oven baked pizza and pulled pork sandwiches in Asia.  So I guess it balances out in the end.

I’d heard about the food truck festival from a couple of my friends but we never set a date to go check it out.  It started out on Granville but ended up moving into a vacant lot near Olympic Village, just west of the False Creek Community Center.  There is a parkade on 1st Ave near Columbia, so driving is an option.  Alternatively, you could take the 84 bus from VCC-Clark Skytrain and get off at Columbia, take the Canada Line to Olympic Village, or take the Expo Line to Main Street and walk over.  It’s actually slightly easier to access from the False Creek walking trail than from 1st, just because you end up having to go in a bit of a circle.

The food cart scene is really taking off in Vancouver and it’s nice that they put all the carts together for one day a week so people can visit and browse, instead of having to run all around downtown tracking down different food carts.  I still miss La Brasserie’s food truck from a few years back, but the explosion in variety of food does not disappoint.  Most carts price their items between $5 – $15, generally averaging around $8-$9 per item.  It’s definitely more interesting to go with a few people because then you can each order one thing and try each others’ food (if everyone is willing to share that is!)

PazzaRella

Items ordered: Prosciutto pizza

Cost: $9

Overall rating: 8.5/10

PazzaRella truck line up
Copyright Jocelyn Lee | 2013

PazzaRella Menu

PazzaRella’s claim to fame is the fact that they have a wood-fired oven in their truck.  It’s also why their pizzas are so delicious.

We decided to try their prosciutto pizza, which had prosciutto and arugula garnished with olive oil.  I’m not a big fan of arugula because of the bitterness but it ended up working well with the prosciutto.  The saltiness of the prosciutto pops in your mouth and all the other flavors are complementary.  I also found the crust interesting as it was thin but still very soft, almost more like a flatbread.  Be warned though, they’re very generous with olive oil so grabbing lots of napkins is a good idea.  The other downside is that it’s a bit hard to bite off part of the proscuitto without the rest also following.

I’m sure I’ll be back to try their margherita pizza at some point as well.
PazzaRella Auto Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon

Jj’s Trucketeria

Items ordered: Filipino BBQ Pork Bun

Cost: $5

Overall Rating: 9/10

Filipino BBQ Pork Bun
Copyright Jocelyn Lee | 2013

I’m basing this rating on the one piece of pork I stole from that sandwich.  It was too messy to split and I just wanted to taste some of the pork.  At $5, the portion size is definitely a steal.  It’s different from Chinese BBQ pork in that it’s not as sweet, but the meat was still very tender and flavorful.  Amazing pork, amazing sauce.  They travel to a lot of events including the Chinatown night market so you have no excuse not to eat there.  Get this if you see them.

Jj's Trucketeria on Urbanspoon

The Reef Runner

Items ordered: Jerk chicken poutine, Ginger beer

Cost: $9

Rating: 8.5/10

The Reef Runner
Copyright Jocelyn Lee | 2013

I keep wanting to try Caribbean food because I’ve heard that jerk chicken is delicious. But still I was a bit hesitant to eat at a food truck until my friend told me that he had eaten at the restaurant before and the jerk sauce was fantastic.  Okay, sold.

I ordered the jerk chicken poutine to satisfy my cravings for all things deep fried.  At $7, the portion size is really small, especially compared to places like Smoke’s Poutinerie.  There were only 3 pieces of chicken in it and the fries barely came up to 1/3 of the box.  I probably wouldn’t order this again.

Jerk Chicken Poutine
Copyright Jocelyn Lee | 2013

But the sauce!  The sauce was fantastic and I couldn’t stop eating it.  It was gravy but managed to hit all the taste buds: sweet, salty, spicy and umami all at the same time.  I’m not counting bitter here because I don’t think bitter would improve the sauce flavor.

And, I was drinking their ginger beer at the same time, which made my mouth burn more but was somehow worth it.

The Reef Runner on Urbanspoon
Holy Perogy

Items ordered: The Hungry Human

Cost: $12

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Holy Perogy
Copyright Jocelyn Lee | 2013

Holy Perogy is one of those food trucks I always see driving around but never actually see parked and serving food.  One of my friends ordered the Hungry Human for us to share.  It came with 6 giant perogies, sausages, sour cream, green onion and beef jerky.  Yum.  Originally I thought they were bacon bits but beef jerky is even better.

Hungry Human
Copyright Jocelyn Lee | 2013

I liked eating the perogies but they’re very filling very fast as they’re big and very full inside.  As soon as you try to separate one with a fork, potato and cheese filling explodes everywhere.   I also found them a little bit bland.  It was fine as there were plenty of salty things to make up for it but I would have liked to taste the perogies more rather than eat them as a vehicle for all the other toppings.

Holy Perogy on Urbanspoon
Chou Chou Crepes

Items ordered: Mlle Juliette (apple compote, maple syrup and ricotta crepe)

Cost: $7

Overall rating: N/A

Chou Chou Crepes
Copyright Jocelyn Lee | 2013

I was pretty full so I didn’t order anything from here, but the smell of sugar and butter had been drawing a crowd for quite some time.  My friend ordered the Mlle Juliette crepe and quite enjoyed it though it was messy to eat at the end.  I had a small piece of the edges and it tasted pretty authentic – thin and crispy on the edges and slightly thicker and soft toward the center of the crepe.  The woman is also amazing, taking orders and handling 3 hot crepes at the same time.  If I see her again I’ll definitely try one of her crepes.  Ever since La Bretagne shut down I’ve been eating Japanese style crepes instead, which aren’t quite the same.

Chou Chou Crepes on Urbanspoon
Trucks to visit in the future:

Le Tigre – Their lineup was gigantic.  My theory of critical mass turned out correct again; people wouldn’t stop lining up for Le Tigre probably because the line was so long to begin with thus it must be good.  I’ll try to visit them during the week instead.  They have a $5 pulled pork steamed bun that might overcome my aversion to fusion food.

Feastro – Feastro has been around for awhile but for some reason I always end up saying I’ll eat their next time.  Their fish tacos look delicious though.

Mom’s Grilled Cheese – Again, another gigantic line up.  I’ve heard lots of good things and I’ll probably end up eating there at least once sometime in the future.  I wonder how it compares to Tazer?  I had a delicious Gouda, apple and bacon grilled cheese there…but then again you can’t go wrong with butter, bacon and cheese.

BONUS:

Sushi S

Items ordered: Alaskan Roll combo

Cost: $10.50 after taxes

Overall Rating: 8/10

I’ve been a little wary of eating sushi since I’ve been back since I’ve been afraid I’ll be disappointed.  I’ve discovered the joy of eating fresh tuna and now the frozen brownish mushy stuff that we get in BC usually disappoints.  (Ahi tuna is a whole other story.) Salmon is good though!

Still, I’ve been craving it so I ended up going down to the sushi restaurant near my house.  Businesses in the little plaza generally have  a hard time.  In the last 5-10 years, there’s been at least 3 Chinese restaurants, 1 donair, 1 pizza, 2 convenience stores, and 1 Japanese restaurant cycling through 4 different storefronts.  It’s not surprising though, considering most of the customers are high school students nearby, which means there’s very little business on the weekend or in the summers.  That and students just want cheap food and lots of it.

The reviews for Sushi S were pretty good.  The staff are really nice and willing to do substitutions.  That’s why there are 3 pieces of salmon nigiri in there instead of 2 – I asked them to substitute the tuna for salmon instead.  However, there’s no discount for doing takeout; the old Japanese restaurant Hibiki used to do that.  It’s also not a Japanese-owned restaurant if you’re picky about that.

Alaska Roll Combo
Copyright Jocelyn Lee | 2013

Looks tasty! But let’s break it down by ingredients.

Rice: 10/10.  Perfectly cooked, still al dente sushi rice.  I think I could just eat the rice by itself.  Rice used in nigiri is about 1/2 the size of that in other restaurants though you can ask them to put more rice.  The Alaskan roll needed more rice though as I could see large patches of nori through it.  Bemused by the fact that I’m complaining about not enough rice.

Salmon: 8/10.  Don’t get me wrong, the fish is fresh.  But…not trimmed properly.  You can see leftover skin on the ends.  The third piece is especially bad.  I probably should have opened it in the restaurant to check, but I didn’t notice until I got home.  It tastes ok just doesn’t look good. The salmon on the Alaskan roll was good, nothing to complain about.

Ebi: 9/10.  The ebi was actually properly seasoned instead of tasting bland.

Alaska Roll
Copyright Jocelyn Lee | 2013

The Alaska roll was packed with ingredients.  It’s essentially a California roll (avocado and cucumber!) topped with salmon.  They definitely didn’t skimp on the crab or the avocado as both were spilling out the ends from the rolls being too full.  The sauce was a bit strange though.  I still haven’t figured out what was in it except maybe sesame and roe.  I think it could have done without the sauce as it looks a little unappetizing.

I’ll definitely be back though.  Cheap sushi, reasonably good fish and walking distance.  What more can I ask for?

Sushi S Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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