Author: Kirsten Wright
As the academic year winds down and students gear up for finals week, the search for an available study area in the library has become an arduous expedition, and the acquisition of a snack from the vending machine has become a lost cause as many items are consistently sold out. With study breaks at a premium and limited options for grubbing between study sessions, escaping off campus to break out of the Occidental dining rut can be a very refreshing change of pace.
Every Tuesday from 5:30-9:00 p.m., local food market Figueroa Produce invites the tastiest food trucks from the Los Angeles area to park in its lot and serve the local Highland Park and Eagle Rock area. This week, Features takes a look at some of the trucks that frequent Figueroa Produce, as well other nearby eateries worth checking out. All locations are within walking distance but just far enough for a nice break before heading back into the depths of the Mary Norton Clapp.
Here’s to a great finals week, Occidental, and Bon Appetit!
Border Grill Truck
Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger have assembled an empire of successful L.A. restaurants over the last 30 years and appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” along the way. Their Border Grill Restaurant, an upscale cantina with locations in Santa Monica and Downtown, has always been a can’t-miss destination for modern Mexican cuisine, but now the Border Grill Truck is traveling to destinations of its own. Mobile specialties include the Peruvian ceviche (fish, lime, ginger and chile in a tortilla cone, $6) and the crispy baja fish taco (Fridays only, $5). Craving more? Indulge with the cumin fries ($3) or dulce de leche churro tots ($3). All dishes served up in distinctive black paper cups and dishes. For general information about the restaurant, visit bordergrill.com. For up-to-date truck locations, go to @BorderGrill on Twitter.
The Boba Truck
Craving the best boba in Los Angeles? A visit to The Boba Truck will undoubtedly slake your thirst. The tea-and-boba-bar-on-wheels serves teas imported from around the world and guarantees complete customization of each beverage with a 100% satisfaction policy. The prices are a bit high, averaging $3.75 for a small tea, but boba made fresh at the beginning of each shift and over 100 available flavor combinations with a choice of boba, mini boba, aloe bits, or lychee jelly make a trip to the truck worthwhile. Try the adventurous Elite Taiwan Oolong Premium Milk Tea or stick with a beloved classic like Thai Iced Tea. For the truck’s complete schedule, visit thebobatruck.com or follow @thebobatruck on Twitter.
Oasis Ice Cream
Oasis Ice Cream is family-owned, family-run, family-oriented and terribly named. The ice cream is fine, but the star attraction is the dozen wacky flavors of hand-made frozen yogurt that rotate in and out and rarely bore (e.g. spinach, gum, kiwi, guava, beet and alfalfa). Doris, the store’s owner, dishes out heaping portions and can concoct a delicious smoothie for every sickness, ailment, or bad mood (see the book on the front counter for ideas). After getting your order, sit down and take in the scene–the decor, the Spanish children’s TV and the people. Especially the people. The shop’s crowd is, amusingly, equal parts families from Highland Park and fawning foodie pilgrims from everywhere else. No one knows how the outsiders first heard about Oasis—the little shop has no website or Twitter page—but there are now enough informative reviews written on Yelp to satisfy anyone’s pre-trip curiosity. The menu is in Spanish, so before visiting, review some fruits and vegetables vocabulary. Cones, $2. Shakes, smoothies, juices, shaved ice, $3-5. Cash only.
India Jones Chow Truck
Sumant Pardal, chef and creator of the India Jones Chow Truck, has been in the restaurant business for over 35 years. After starting several Indian restaurants in the Los Angeles area, he decided to take part in the food truck phenomenon and start his own mobile eatery. The cuisine? Authentic Punjabi Indian food at a reasonable price. Popular menu items include curry bowls served over basmati rice ($7.50-9.00), samosas ($3) and mango lassis ($3) The signature dish from India Jones is the Frankie ($5), which is described by Zagat as the Indian version of a burrito. A tortilla-like roti contains a choice of beef, lamb, chicken, vegetables or cheese and a selection of delicious spices, vegetables and condiments. To locate the India Jones Chow Truck and check out the complete menu, visit the twitter account @IndiaJonesCT or the truck’s website, http://indiajoneschowtruck.com/
No Jodas Cuban Kitchen
Yes, the truck’s name is a colloquial Spanish expression meaning “Don’t mess with me” (in its cleanest form), but don’t let that scare you away. For No Jodas, the truck’s owner, Rob, adapted his family’s traditional Cuban recipes with the self-described goal of dishing out the “best Cuban food this side of Miami.” Order the medianoche sandwich (roasted pork, swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on sweet Cuban bread, $7) and gauge his success. Other must-try dishes include the fried plantains ($3), croquetas ($3) and the chicken and beef bowls ($8). Want a taste but don’t want to venture to the truck? No Jodas’s recipe for Cuban corn fritters is available online at nojodaskkitchen.com. Go to @NoJodasKitchen on Twitter for constantly updated information about the truck.
East meets Southwest in Northeast L.A. On its website, Kogi Truck states that its 2008 debut in Los Angeles “set off a nuclear bomb that would shake up and mutate the foundations of the industry so that street food would never be looked at the same way again.”
According to the bold creators, Caroline Shin and Mark Manguera, the truck is an “iconoclastic symbol wherein legends are born and rules are made to be broken.” The food, an unexpectedly delicious fusion of Korean BBQ and traditional Mexican, is no less audacious. Try the short rib taco (caramelized Korean barbecue, salsa, slaw and relish between corn tortillas) and marvel that the world went thousands of years without it. Burritos, $6; kogi dog, $6; add kimchi for $1. For the truck’s current whereabouts, visit kogibbq.com or @kogibbq on Twitter.
Lomo Arigato provides Angelenos with an innovative fusion of Japanese and Peruvian food. Chef and truck owner Erik Nakata has utilized the creative pairing to produce a menu that offers only three items. The Lomo Saltado consists of sauteed seasoned chicken, beef or tofu served with french fries and vegetables. The Chaufa is Peruvian fried rice, and the Tallarin Saltado a Peruvian pasta. The plates cost $8-$11, a high (though not uncommon) price range for foods handed to you from the inside of a parked vehicle. Make sure to try the truck’s famous Peruvian Aji sauce, a green chili sauce known by truck-goers as the “green sauce.” Keep track of the truck by following Lomo Arigato on Twitter (@lomoarigato).
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