When Kogi BBQ’s Naranja Truck rolled into OC in late 2009, I was a zealous early adopter scanning their twitter feed, ogling the glistening food photos on their website constantly and waiting in a long line before the truck even arrived to promised locations.
Seabirds Beer Batter Fried Avocado Taco.
When it did, I ordered everything on the menu times two and brought back-up to help me consume it all. Kogi delivered. There were ginger-laced short rib tacos, a quesadilla with caramelized onions, pork, jack and cheddar cheese with citrusy jalapeno salsa verde and something called the Pac Man: a burger mash-up of all three meats, both cheeses, salsa roja and verde, chicharonnes and sesame mayo in a bun with a small slice out of it resemble Pac Man’s insatiable maw, or, possibly, Paquiao’s mean sting.
Kogi BBQ started the gourmet food truck wave in OC and soon, there were gridlocked griddles from Fullerton to San Clemente.Shortly after Kogi appeared, a convoy of GMC Workhorses, Mercedes Sprinters and Freightliners could be found criss-crossing the county with delicious, budget fare.
Chomp Chomp Nation's Lamb Burger
How many trucks could we take? A lot, it turns out. With OC’s sprawling tundra of Corporate Parks sans cafeterias and just one hour for lunch, opportunity is great. Besides the business of filling rumbling stomachs of cubicle-dwellers, the trucks have a natural place at The OC Fairgrounds, OC Certified Farmer’s Markets and events such as Wednesday’s at Irvine Lanes that celebrate nothing other than truck chasers filling their gullets with great food.
With dozens of trucks to choose from and three new rigs debuting in OC every month, competition is tough and truck food is better than ever. But you only need to go on the used truck section of the Roadstoves website to see how fleeting a career in food trucking can be.
There are a few trucks, some new, some established, that transcend the great divide between bricks and mortar and meals on wheels. They serve great food in spite of having gallies the size of elevators. Among the best dishes I’ve had this past month are Barcelona On The Go’s bacon wrapped dates, Seabird‘s beer batter fried avocado tacos, Rancho a Go Go Barbecue’s pulled pork Mac and Cheese and The Lime Truck’s fried gorgonzola and truffle oil risotto.
Still, one truck had me at French Toast. Chomp Chomp Nation serves what they call Singaporean-American fare. Husband and wife team Robert Zuetell and Gina Galvan’s beautiful tiger-striped truck was destroyed in a fire in March leaving them with a homely rental in the interim. But don’t judge a truck by its cover.
Start with their brioche French toast. The crust is caramelized crisp while the inside remains fluffy and moist. It’s stuffed with Kaya jam; a delicate coconut milk, egg and pandan leaf concoction. The toast is drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and coconut syrup, topped with coconut whipped cream and lychee, mango and dragon fruit, it evokes sultry tropical climes with the first bite.
Chomp Chomp Nation's Temporary Rig.
Another dish with enough tropical ingredients to fill a spice caddy is the lamb burger. The tender meat is infused with a mixure of lemongrass, ginger, galangal and Thai chilies. It is served on a brioche bun with creamy raita and greens. Thirst-quenching hibiscus and rose petal iced tea with lychee gelatin cubes will cool you off. 949 637 1688 chompchompnation.com
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