25 Mar Food Truck FAIL!
I unabashedly followed food trucks in the U.S. That thrill when you see the tweet that lets you know that truck with the out-of-this-world Japanese maki is a few blocks away. That shiver when you realize the authentic mole poblano you pour on everything is within walking distance. That anticipation when you hail a cab on the way to a rendezvous with 8-hour smoked ribs and pulled pork. So when a few years ago I heard that food trucks have finally made their presence felt on Philippine shores, my little heart did a hop, skip and a jump that would have made American Ninja Warrior proud. I trekked to the gathering places – Glorietta Park, Capitol Commons, The Grove at Rockwell, Maginhawa – wallet full and stomach empty. And like many on whom I have pinned my hopes and anticipation, my little heart went home unsatisfied.
There is a certain level of distinction one expects from a food truck. First off, it must not be a glorified version of the ubiquitous jollijeep. If I wanted tapsilog, tocilog, fried pork chops and chicken cooked oh-so-simply, then the jollijeep a few blocks away from my flat has fantastic versions at half the food truck price. Food trucks are not expected to have the same extensive menu as a fast food restaurant. The name of the game is specialization in order to produce the best. Otherwise, you just end up with jollijeep’s social climber cousin dressed in drag charging double on an extensive cafeteria menu.
Don’t get me wrong though. Food truck food is not cheap. It doesn’t have to be. Followers are ready to pay for damn good food. It should give my mouth orgasms and make me want to spend some alone time with it. So when I order a bucket of fries with a boatload of special toppings, it shouldn’t taste like it was fried in yesterday’s oil. Shawarma should not filled with “onions and others.” Freshly baked cookies should not have the same texture as supermarket made cookies. And while that roast beef may have tasted good last Friday, on Saturday its texture resemble something I pick off my tires. Quality people! If you peddle fried rice then make it the fried rice every grain of rice aspires to be! #carbsgood
Good food truck food is not overly fancy. But it is consistently good. It can stun you with its innovation or taste like the best dinner your grandmother ever made. That being said, just because your mom says your spaghetti tastes good doesn’t mean it deserves its own food truck. If your relatives said those siomai you made last Christmas were yummy, bear in mind it was the season of charity. Folding, rolling or serving ordinary food items on a stick does not make it inventive or memorable. If Daddy can afford to buy you a food truck, he can also afford to let you hire a chef.
There are a precious few decent food trucks. I’ve had awesome gelato (or maybe I should say the flavors and texture were awe-ALL) and pretty good mainstream Mexican food (will someone PLEASE make mole!). Burgers are always a favorite but none are distinctive. So maybe local food trucks are getting there. Slowly. Really slowly. But in the meantime? I will keep my little heart away from failure.