Sunday, August 28, 2011

Street Meat!

They've got mini menus, no fixed address and are compact quick-serve kitchens on wheels. More than 15 new food trucks rolled out on to Vancouver streets after getting the green light from City Council on January 20th.

They are part of a plan to encourage healthier, more diverse offerings from mobile food operators in one of Canada's biggest cities. Food carts have traditionally sold hot dogs, snacks or prepackaged food. Not anymore...

Japadog was one of the first food carts to give an ethnic spin on an old favorite. Hot dogs with teriyaki sauce? On a bed of grated daikon (white radish) and topped with strands of toasted seaweed? Yup. And Vancouverites have been lining up at the corner of Burrard and Smithe for these and other delightfully different dogs.

There are now several Japadog carts now and even a sit down restaurant. They have been featured on Food Network and the CBC. Anthony Bourdain and Steven Seagal have sampled their unique brand of "street meat".

Foodies are flocking to street corners and parking lots to take advantage of the expanding food truck phenomena. As the name suggests, Roaming Dragon serves up fast fresh food with an Asian flair. Look for Korean inspired dishes like short rib or beef bulgogi tacos. Banh mi (a Vietnamese style submarine sandwich) is stuffed with meat, pickled veggies and fresh herbs. I haven't tried it myself but the lychee and basil lemonade is rumoured to be refreshing and unique.

Bada Bing (below) can be seen cruising Robson street dishing up Philly Cheesesteaks and (un!?)healthy portions of cheesy poutine.

A few high-end restaurants also run food carts. This is a clever marketing trick, particularly with fine dining restaurants in BC facing very challenging times. Customers can sample a pricy restaurant's food without spending an arm and a leg and an evening out. If they like what they've tried off the cart, chances are they'll consider the restaurant that operates it for their next special night out.

La Brasserie (the restaurant) is located on Davie St in the West End. La Brasserie (The food cart) offers just one signature item, a beer-brined chicken sandwich on homemade buttermilk buns with fried onions. When it's gone, it's gone and the operators let their customers know when they've sold out on twitter. Twitter is a powerful and popular tool for food trucks/carts. Instantly they can inform their customers as to where they are and will be, and what's available and what's not.

Harry Kambolosis owns some of Vancouver's best known restaurants, including "C ", Raincity Grill and the relatively recent Greek spot "NU". "Souvlaki by NU" is a new street cart also operated by Kambolosis offering easy to eat souvlaki (on a stick) or wrapped in a pita with your choice of condiments.

Does the guy working the cart look familiar? Yup, that's Executive Chef Robert Clark of "C" grilling, wrapping and rolling. He's been featured on the Food network and CBC and was a founding member of the vancouver Aquarium's Oceanwise Program. Oceanwise encourages guests, restaurants and suppliers to support sustainable fisheries.

Sustainable, local seafood is always on the menu at "Feastro" Fresh fish tacos, Seared BC Tuna Carpaccio and crab cakes are sold (quite literally) off the back of a truck. They're usually parked in the neighbourood of Cordova and Thurlow, near the Convention Centre.

Kamloops is probably a ways from having a regular street food scene anything like Vancouvers! But fresh and tasty snacks can be found at The Kamloops Farmers Market Wednesday and Saturdays downtown. Vendors can also be found Friday afternoon on the North Shore and Sundays at Sun Peaks. That's all for and enjoy!