Archive for the ‘Los Angeles’ Category

This summer marked a new round of competition for Los Angeles based food trucks Kogi BBQ and Bull Kogi. Their 2 dollar Korean taco menu is being assaulted by a truck offering the same cuisine for half the price. Pyongyang Express is a North Korean food truck that proudly flies the flag of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and an image of its dictator Kim Jong Il but the difference from this truck and its rivals in the Los Angeles area is that this truck was designed to provide viral marketing for a video game.

THQ’s Homefront is to be a first person shooter style game that revolves around a plot which has North Korea invading the United States in the year 2027, and is due for release in March of 2011. Although the Pyongyang Express was launched in June, the fact that the game’s release is less than 6 months away means the truck already has a use no later than stamp on it. If the rumors are true, these Los Angeles truck owners won’t have to deal with this invasion for the entire 6 months. We have heard through the grapevine that the Pyongyang Express may be headed to New York and San Francisco to market in those cities before the game’s release, leaving LA in its dust in the near future.

Behind the wheel and stove of the truck is 76 year old Bob Gottlieb, who just so happens to be a Korean War veteran, a US Korean War veteran at that. When asked about his thoughts about the fare he prepares he said, “North Korean people take much honor and care in every ingredient used in their recipes, unlike very fast, tasteless food. Pyongyang BBQ caters gourmet food and should not be considered street food.” Gottlieb also mentioned that at one of its early stops, the truck was shooed away from the front of the Korean Consulate by armed guards. Not quite what one might expect from fellow comrades.

Angeleanos have not been too concerned with this marketing ploy, as they have been more interested in the trucks motto; Subsidized Good Food for a Better America. The truck offers a simple, yet inexpensive menu which includes chicken or beef Korean tacos, chicken or beef rice bowls and kimchee quesadillas. All of these items are priced at 2 dollars and under.

Another topic that may ease the minds of the popular Korean taco trucks comes from Tyrone Miller, part of the Public Relations team at THQ, “Our goal is not to get into the food truck-management business; frankly, we’re not making any money on this.” Using a food truck as a marketing tool is nothing new as we mentioned in our article earlier this week, but even THQ wasn’t sure Americans would take kindly to their campaign. “We had a whole crisis management plan ready to go;” Miller said, “but thankfully we haven’t needed it.”

Will this Korean food truck be looked at as part of the Axle of Evil (excuse the pun), or will their customers take into account that the meals they order consist of more food than the average North Korean eats in a month, for under 5 dollars?

Have you had a chance to try out their food, if so, what are your thoughts?

Betsy Butler

The results are in and they show that Betsy Butler prevailed in the 53rd Assembly District race against local Tea Party founder Nathan Mintz. There is no way to know how many votes Butler received from food truck supporters in a district which includes cities such as Torrance, Lomita, the beach cities, El Segundo, Marina del Rey, and parts of Los Angeles at the northern tip of the district.

The SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association, which represents over 60 food trucks, started backing Butler during her Democratic Party primary run and continued during the general election. According to Matt Geller, Vice President of the association, “She sees the benefit of food trucks in that area.”

Butler, 47, a Marina del Rey resident, will succeed term-limited Democrat Ted Lieu. She survived a competitive eight-candidate primary in which she was forced to spend heavily to counter a well-financed special-interest campaign targeting her years working as a fundraiser for California’s environmental nonprofits and state trial lawyers association.

The race in the 53rd Assembly District was the only federal or state contest in the South Bay without an incumbent identified by prognosticators as fairly assured of re-election.

To follow our Meatless Monday theme, we bring you a profile of one of Los Angeles’ only vegetarian food trucks.

 

Image by Urban Sketchers

 

The Dosa Truck is the brainchild of Brooklyn born, Leena Deneroff. Ms Deneroff grew up eating from many NY food trucks as well as from other various street food vendors. She had always wanted to open a restaurant, but couldn’t afford to do so financially. The mobile food trend allowed her to fulfill her dreams in 2009. The truck’s name originates from the style of South Indian cuisine they serve. The dosa is explained on their website as, “Take a crispy sourdough crepe made from rice and lentil flour… stuff it with regional and gourmet ingredients and roll it long and thin and you’ve got a DOSA.“ In our opinion the best way to describe the dosa is to take a French crepe, introduce it to a Mexican quesadilla and then match the pair with Indian pesto.

One of the standard vegan friendly menu items is the Sita’s Surprise. This dosa comes packed with a blend of spiced sweet potatoes. If you are a vegan, be sure to ask for it or any of your other orders without chutney which contains dairy ingredients. A rotating menu item from the truck is the Shiva’s Garden which comes with a tasty blend of chopped avocados, caramelized onions, and baby heirloom tomatoes.

Although known for their dosas, the Dosa Truck does serve additional fare. They serve other Indian inspired menu items such as the Samosa. It is filled with yellow curry, peas, and potatoes. How can you go wrong with a fried shell stuffed with fluffy spiced potatoes sprinkled with fennel seeds and choice of dipping sauce?

 

Dosa Truck owner Leena Deneroff

 

While dosas and samosas are a continual menu item, the Dosa Truck also carries items such as desserts, appetizers and salads such as the Channa Chaat. This salad is a cold chickpea salad served on greens with baby tomatoes, it is a cool and refreshing compliment to all the other hot dishes featured on the truck’s menu.

No matter what you order, you will find what many of the Dosa Truck’s customers have found.  Their food is delicious enough to repeat the quote from the side of the truck “ommm good.”

Dosas are an ideal street food that you can easily eat on while you walk or shop in the area the truck is visiting.

Follow the Dosa Truck on Twitter @dosatruck, or at their website.

DOSAtruck on Urbanspoon

As we previously reported, Los Angeles County supervisors were to vote on pending food truck legislation this week. On Tuesday, the supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the proposal, and in 30 days, the new law will go into effect.

The regulation authorizes health inspectors the ability to  now conduct two surprise field inspections and provide the same health board grades to food trucks as brick and mortar restaurants receive. The previous requirements provided for a single field inspection and one in the commissary in which the truck is stored overnight. Prior to Tuesday’s vote, there was no grading system in place. Now a truck will receive a county grade of A, B, or C and will have to post thier grade in an area visible to its customers.

According to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, head of the Los Angeles County Health Department, the new regulation will not result in any increases in fees the food truck operators are charged within the first year it is in effect.

We see this new law as a stepping stone for municipalities around the country to use as a guide in  assisting them in opening paths for food trucks to start providing services in areas where previously they had not.

If the rent is too damn high, try out the treat that proves that one dollar can, and in fact, buy you happiness.

Koo’s Sweet Rice Pancake Ho-tteok Cart sits parked outside a market in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. Koo is the family surname of this treasure’s owner. Although they have yet to enter the next generation of social media food truck/cart marketing on Twitter, apparently, word of mouth is spreading and the word is delectable.

The simple fact this cart has only a single item for sale should tell you something quickly. When asking Mr. Koo of your choices, he will politely answer, “There is only one thing.” They make nothing else; there is no need for a menu. They serve nothing with cheese or zest, nothing with foam and nothing laid out on fine china. When you order, you are handed a fresh ho-tteok wrapped in a standard Styrofoam container. Anyone should be able to appreciate the simplicity in this take on true street food.

According to the Koo’s daughter, her parents went to Korea to learn how to make these treats after they saw the lack of locations these items were sold, in the L.A. area. The family opened their first location at the California Market in Garden Grove, and then expanded to Koreatown in 2001.

Ho-tteok are a glutinous, moist, sweet Korean pancake that is filled with a nugget of molten syrup which is made from chopped peanuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon. These pancakes are approximately five inches in diameter and are the perfect fare to grab if you are headed in or out of the market.

According to their fans, Koo’s ho-tteok ranks as one of the best snacks/desserts in the Los Angeles area. I believe one Koo’s customers put it best, “One dollar per pancake? One dollar for a slice of heaven? I would be outside this cart every day for every meal if I wasn’t worried about my waist size.”

Locations:

450 South Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90020

8911 Garden Grove Boulevard
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Koo's Grill on Urbanspoon

Food festivals are using gourmet food trucks as their featured headliners.

Communities across the country may have found another revenue generating operation that could provide a much desired service for their citizens, a boost to their local economy and help to small businesses in the food truck industry. One such event took place in Southern California this weekend.

On Saturday, October 16th in Valencia, California, 22 food trucks swooped into the Bridgeport Marketplace at McBean Parkway and Newhall Ranch Road to provide the local area with a taste of the food truck frenzy that is sweeping the nation. The Awesometown Gourmet Food Truck Festival was the brainchild of Cluster Truck Events, a Southern California based, event planning company, and self-proclaimed professional “truck wranglers.”

Vendors from the Greater Los Angeles area offered menus that varied from sliders, fried chicken, beef tacos and cupcakes. The food trucks who participated with authentic and innovative cuisine were:

Ahn Joo Truck, Bool BBQ, Border Grill, Comfort Truck, Del’s Lemonade, Dim Sum Truck, Dosa Truck, Fish Lips, Fresh Fries, Fry Smith, Great Balls on Tires, Krazy BBQ, Lake Street Creamery, Lee’s Philly Gogi, Ludo’s Truck, Munchie Machine, My Kabob Express, Newhall Coffee Roasting Company, Sprinkles, Tapa Boy, Sweets Truck and Vesuvio.

Originally thought to draw nearly 3,000 visitors; within the first hour of the four hour event, more than 8,000 guests had found their way to the site. The event was sponsored by Newhall Land Development LLC. Marlee Lauffer, Newhall Land spokeswoman, said the turnout showed how much excitement there was for the gourmet food truck trend, which has brought food trucks to business centers around the Santa Clarita Valley. With the large turnout, there were some issues with overcrowding and long lines, however many of the hungry mobile gourmands viewed the long lines the same way that thrill chasers who stand in line to take part of their favorite rides at Disneyland or Magic Mountain do.

“I’m sorry there were lines,” Lauffer said. “This just shows how much people out here love doing things together.”

Los Angeles County set to ratify new food truck regulations.

Photo from Mobile Hunger

There are an estimated 10,000 food vehicles which navigate the streets of Los Angeles County. On Tuesday, all five of the L.A. County supervisors gave preliminary approval for a new ordinance that would require mobile food vendors to submit travel routes to give county health inspectors the ability to conduct surprise inspections.

The results of these new inspections would provide the county with enough information for them to release grades, similar to the grades restaurants currently receive, for each of these vendors. With this approval, the ordinance must be ratified by another vote, sometime next week. Once ratified it would go into effect 30 days after the final vote in unincorporated areas of the county; local city councils would need to ratify the new grading plan for it to be effective within city limits.

The first phase of the plan will expand the grading program to about 3,200 full-service catering vehicles. The second phase would begin next July and will expand to about 2,800 more limited food facilities, such as hot dog and churro carts.

The proposed ordinance covers almost any truck selling any type of food, including motorized and non-motorized vehicles, food carts and “any vehicle from which animal food, bakery products, fish, shellfish, fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, preserves, jelly, relish, milk or other dairy products, food or food products, ice or beverages, whether in bulk, canned, wrapped, bottled, packaged, or any other form, are sold.”

Currently food trucks are required to have the health department conduct a single annual inspection. Once finalized, food trucks would also be required to submit to at least one additional field inspection per year. The reviews conducted will give health inspectors the ability to close trucks down if they do not receive a grade of C or higher. They will be making sure the trucks follow the same regulations as brick and mortar establishments in regards to public and personal safety. Hygiene standards are also reviewed, so inspectors will make sure food is stored properly and the kitchen and serving areas are kept clean.

According to Matt Geller, vice president of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, “It brings more legitimacy to an industry that is fairly new in the mainstream,” Surfer Taco truck owner, Moises Alvarado stated, “Some people think maybe we don’t even get a health permit now they’re going to know just how clean we are. I think it’s going to mean more business for us.” In addition to customers knowing what grades each truck received, the placards will establish that the trucks are being regulated and are safe to eat from.

Health departments around the country have been hesitant to allow mobile food vendors permitting to sell in their municipalities. The primary reason they give is that since the trucks are mobile there would not be any way for them to track these operators down to give them surprise inspections. Apparently these officials have not read our article on how to follow them. Mobile Cuisine Magazine believes that by having a travel itinerary requirement in Los Angeles Country as a new precedent, we may see another surge of cities around the country authorizing new food trucks to begin selling their mobile fare.