We’re doing something a little different this week for Food Truck Friday. A few days ago, my school was genius enough to host a food truck panel event, where founders of some of LA’s favorite food trucks, an acclaimed blogger, and a Pulitzer Prize winning food critic came together to talk about about all of my favorite things: food and food trucks. I feel like this panel was hosted specifically for me. In attendance were Roy Choi, founder of the Kogi BBQ truck, Freya Estrella and Natasha Case of Coolhaus, Erik Cho of Frysmith, as well as Cathy Nhu, the girl behind gastronomyblog.com, and food critic Jonathan Gold.
Kogi BBQ is the first food truck I ever experienced, back before my blogging days. I cannot wait for them to be in my hood, so I can share with you one of the single most intoxicatingly delicious foods ever to pass my lips. Kogi’s Roy Choi is really the man that started the food truck craze. When he went from slinging tacos on the street at hungry club goers, to taking his grub mobile, LA went ape shit. There are many Korean taco trucks trying to do what he does, but none come anywhere close. The passion that Roy puts into his food is remarkable, and his tacos are divine without being pretentious or contrived. Hearing him speak about how he got started and his philosophies on food, food trucking, and living life was fantastic.
Natasha Case put her UCLA architecture education to use in a medium that does not typically come to mind immediately. Rather than design houses, she designed Coolhaus. This is not your neighborhood ice cream truck. They made their debut at Coachella in a truck purchased from Craigslist for less than three grand that didn’t even run. They are now extremely successful, constructing sandwiches all over LA as well as NYC and Miami. With ice cream flavors like brown butter bacon, Manhattan cocktail, and white chocolate olive, these frozen treats are truly unique. Coolhaus served free samples after the panel, and I tried a red velvet cookie with pistachio black truffle ice cream. My first bite left me a bit confused. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the black truffles in my ice cream. But after a couple more bites, I realized that it was just off the wall enough to work. The truffles lend some salt and an almost meaty quality to the ice cream. I’m sure that description did not convince you, but it was pretty good, nonetheless. The cookie was quite nice, but really not overly impressive. All in all, I think Coolhaus has an interesting, innovative concept, but based on my flavor combo, I’m not their number one fan. I’ll have to try it again!
I was happy to see Frysmith‘s Erik Cho at the panel, as I have already featured his truck here. He too, gave out samples at the end, which were really a pretty healthy portion of fries. I got to try the Rajas fries this time–crispy fries topped with fire-roasted poblano chiles, caramelized onions and shawarma-marinated steak with Jack cheese. When I got my boat of fries, I had the most ridiculous grin on my face, because I knew that I was about to experience magic. Something about Frysmith’s flavor combinations just sweep me away on a wave of fry-cstasy. The Rajas fries were a lot different from the Sweet Potato fries that I tried before. While those were much sweeter and creamier, these had an intriguing slow burn from the poblanos, and a lot of body to them from the steak. I was in utter bliss.
Frysmith's Rajas fries
Aside from the food truckers, we got to hear from Cathy Nhu, whose gastronomyblog honestly stomps all over mine. The primary focus of her blog is the food that she experiences in her travels. She has done restaurant reviews for eateries all over LA, the US, and the world, highlighting her experiences in Vietnam. She has an overwhelming list of recipes for dishes both exotic and familiar. I actually just made some cookies that I found on her blog, which I will be featuring in the coming weeks.
Banh Mi, featured on Saigon's Top 10 on gastronomyblog
The panel was moderated by Jonathan Gold. He currently writes for LA Weekly, and formerly for Gourmet Magazine. The way he talks about food is so eloquent and captivating, which explains why he is the first food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize. I tried to talk to him after the panel, but apparently I only possess the skill of written word, and not spoken, because I stuttered and blanked. It was quite silly. Next on the to-do list, learn how to talk…
It was such an awesome experience to be in the presence of people who have such passion for food. I felt at home among foodies and the other foodie groupies like myself in attendance, and it reinforced the glaringly obvious fact that food has to be in my future. Whether I’m in a truck, a brick and mortar establishment, a byline on the pages of a magazine, or on TV, look out for me : )
Food and I, we belong together <3