NaanStop

10/11/11

NaanStop stopped by work a couple of weeks ago, although it was hard to believe that they stopped at all, given their name (get it?). Lame jokes aside, I wasn’t really looking forward to trying another potentially underwhelming food truck at work after my previous experiences. But I was peer-pressured into trying it by multiple coworkers. And I had heard decent things about it, so why not?

I ordered a samosa and chicken tandoori “naanwich”. The samosa was too oily, but tasted like an authentic samosa. The naanwich was a mess to eat, but tasted pretty good actually. A bit too heavy-handed with the spices, and the whole thing was somewhat soggy, but the flavors were decent. I also tried some of my coworker’s masala fries – tasted like an Indian version of chili cheese fries. Overall, this was a pretty good food truck, the second best one I’ve written about (behind Kogi).

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Samosa – a savory pastry filled with a mix of potatoes, onions, peas and Indian spices

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Tandoori Chicken Naanwich – chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, and spices including cardamon, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and others

Chris Hei grade: B-

NaanStop

Gourmet Genie

9/22/11Despite this fever of food trucks in recent years, I find the vast majority of them to be rather average. This was just the case with Gourmet Genie. They were near my work last week, and my coworker and I decided to give them a shot. They’ve been around in the past, so I figured they were good enough for others to warrant a repeat appearance. The menu is pretty vast for a food truck, and everyone knows that I’m terrible at making decisions (my decision-making when ordering food is usually the result of detailed research), so I picked the spicy lamb shawarma because its picture was the closest to my face when I was in line.

PhotoSpicy Lamb Shawarma ($9) – Lean Sliced Leg of Lamb, Marinated and Seasoned, Jalapenos, Kosher Pickles, Red Onion, Fresh Parsley & Tahini sauce

As Michael Bluth would say in Arrested Development, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” The lamb was overcooked and chopped into these unappetizing bits (although some bits had a nice char). The main offenders, however, were jalapenos and pickles. First of all, are they even Mediterranean? Anyways, their ethnic authenticity isn’t the point. They just tasted so out of place with all the other ingredients. In fact, those ingredients were all I tasted. Second, I don’t remember if there were any onions in the shawarma. It would’ve been a nice touch. Probably needed more tahini too. The whole thing was fairly bland. All I tasted was the jalapenos and pickles, no joke. I’ve been more open to trying some of the food trucks that come around work in recent weeks, but I don’t think I’ll order from this one unless I’m really hungry and didn’t have my car at work.

Chris Hei grade: C

Gourmet Genie

Kogi

9/15/11I was driving back to work from napping at my apartment during my lunch time today, and saw the Kogi “Verde” truck on Olympic, between Sawtelle and Barrington. It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen the truck at that particular location, but for some reason it was the first time I was actually intrigued. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had Kogi since they camped out near my apartment while I was at UCLA. Or maybe because it was a good chance to complete my Roy Choi holy trinity (after visiting A-Frame and Chego). But regardless, I decided to stop the car and get some Kogi, despite my widely-known apathy for the food from my previous experiences. Parking a block away, I can smell the abundance of sesame oil (which makes its presence known on everything from the truck).

Kogi SlidersKogi Sliders ($5) – short rib, sesame mayo, cheese, salsa roja and a cabbage-romaine slaw tossed in a chili soy vinaigrette on toasted buns

This was under the “Kogi Favorites” section. I only remember trying the taco, burrito and kimchi quesadilla in the past, so I figured to try something different. I thought that the sliders were pretty good. The short rib and veggie combo made this kind of reminiscent to mini tortas, with the buns soaking up the flavors quite well.

TacosTacos: Short Rib, Spicy Pork ($2.10 each) – sesame-chili salsa roja, julienne romaine lettuce and cabbage tossed in Korean chili-soy vinaigrette, cilantro-green onion-lime relish, crushed sesame seeds, sea salt

The tacos basically have the same ingredients as the sliders, or at the very least tasted as if they do. I think that’s probably my main concern with the food at Kogi (besides everything being on the saltier side and too much going on – like Chego), that it looks like the majority of the stuff have the same components, so there wasn’t much variety from dish to dish. These were not bad though, but the sliders were better.

Blackjack QuesadillaBlackjack Quesadilla ($7) – caramelized onions and spicy pork married together with cheddar and jack cheese, citrusy-jalapeƱo salsa verde

I also wanted to try something from the “Fan Favorites” section, as I’ve never tried any of the items from it. I decided to go with the blackjack quesadilla, since I heard the person ahead of me order it. This was probably my favorite of the three things I ordered, as the tortilla was grilled to a crisp, which reminded me of an onion pancake (although the photo on the menu looks MUCH better than above). I felt that the salsa verde was a little unnecessary though, since there was already a lot going on with the caramelized onions and spicy pork.

I wasn’t disappointed with this most recent experience with Kogi, but I did come in with fairly low expectations. And luckily the line for the truck wasn’t long at long, or else it probably wouldn’t have been worth it. I felt like the food repeated some of the same flaws I remembered from the past, but the time away has made me somewhat appreciate the fusion-y flavors, however one-note they are.

Chris Hei grade: B-

Kogi BBQ

Kogi Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Deano’s Deli

8/30/11I didn’t have time to eat lunch on Tuesday (due to picking up new pair of glasses), so I had to resort to Deano’s Deli in front of bebe. Having never heard of the food truck, and not being particularly interested in what they were serving, I was strongly considering forgoing having lunch that day. But I was REALLY hungry after getting back to the office, so I figured it was worth a shot since it was either this or something from Ralph’s. And there wasn’t a line, so I wouldn’t have to wait too long.

PhotoI believe that they’re a relatively new food truck (only two reviews on Yelp, and no food blogger reviews so far – surprise given the number of self-proclaimed critics in L.A. who want to be the first to report on all things food), so there wasn’t any research to be done. All I knew was that the sandwiches were quite pricey, but I wanted some variety. So I essentially paid $13 for a whole sandwich. Was it worth it?

MeatballMeatball ($7 half) – provolone, marinara, hot peppers

The trucks peeps suggested this, one of their specials. Unfortunately, not impressed at all. The meatballs were a bit bland and the marinara sauce had no flavor at all. The only flavor evident was the sourness from the “hot” peppers, and the bread didn’t go well with everything else. How sad, considering my love for meatball subs.

Roast BeefRoast Beef ($6 half) – cheddar, fried green tomatoes, horseradish mayo

Much better than the meatball. The roast beef itself was rarer than the usual roast beef, although the flavor was somewhat light. The sharp cheddar was a surprise choice to go with roast beef, but not bad. Horseradish mayo, on the other hand, was anything but a surprise to go with roast beef, and not bad as well. It didn’t look like the fried tomatoes were actually green tomatoes, but the fried slices gave the sandwich a nice crunch, which the stale bread was unable to do.

I wanted to give Deano’s Deli a B-, since it’s not pretty to knock on a business (I know firsthand from formerly being in the restaurant industry myself), let alone a new one. The roast beef was probably a B- on its own, but the meatball was a C at best. And with new places I try, I’ve noticed that I tend to NOT give them the benefit of the doubt. This is probably a self-imposed defense mechanism to lower my expectations for possible future visits, and to imagine giving these places something to strive for. I hope Deano’s Deli takes the time to develop their sandwiches (because there can never be enough sandwich places), and maybe I’ll stop by again if they’re near my work next time. Good luck guys.

Chris Hei grade: C

Deano’s Deli

Crepes Bonaparte

I’m usually not a food truck guy, despite seeing multiple ones near my work on a weekly basis (I think bebe, which is located a block from us, arranges for the trucks to come). I prefer to go home for lunch to save money and not get any fatter than I already am. But I had to run errands during my lunch last Wednesday, and was really hungry upon going back to work. Luckily, Crepes Bonaparte was readily available a block away. My coworkers said that they were on Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, so that was encouraging.

Baby Bleu – chicken, bleu cheese, spinach & raspberry vinaigrette

I had wanted a savory and a sweet crepe to have a nice balance of crepes (albeit all to myself). Not too familiar with savory crepes, I asked the server what his favorite savory one was, and he suggested the baby bleu. It was a nice crepe, although it didn’t really change my indifferent perception of savory crepes.

Le Classique – banana, nutella & whipped cream

Now this is what I’m talking about. Banana + nutella + whipped cream = epic combination. Actually this didn’t blow me away, but it was very delicious. Delicious enough that I forgot to take a photo of it.

My food truck experiences have been fairly limited, and I believe that the abundance of such trucks have diluted the scene in Los Angeles. However, I don’t think that Crepes Bonaparte has been a detriment to the crowd. Again, nothing mind-blowing, but just solid crepes.

Chris Hei grade: B-

Crepes Bonaparte/GASTON the Crepe Truck