Street Food City: Food Cart Galore at the Vancouver Art Gallery
January 24 to 26, 2012, 11 am to 3 pm
Vancouver Art Gallery, North Plaza
You know that Vancouver is a foodie town when hoards of hungry diners flock out to support our little army of food carts parked outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on the rainiest and windiest day in January. As part of Dine Out Vancouver and supported by the Street Food Vancouver Society and Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, during Street Food City, food carts line the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza from January 24 to 26 from 11 am to 3 pm, serving up good eats and providing a lively atmosphere. Some carts even have special ‘Dine Out’ menu items. Dennis Pang (of POPCORN fame) and our foodie friend, Jeff Voon and I decided to check it out.
I was really hoping to finally try the Juice Truck but they’re not at the event until tomorrow. There were many great classics to choose from though: Re-Up was there as was Tacofino along with some of this season’s new favourites: Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck and La Brasserie.
We stopped at Coma Food Truck first. It was hard to choose from their big menu but I settled on the bibimbap on recommendation of Dennis. Jeff ordered the same thing (I’m pretty sure this was to stop me from taking pictures of his food). The guys at Coma Food Truck were sweet enough to offer us some hot soup while we waited for our order. It really warmed us up in the pouring rain.
This is actually one of the few times I have eaten bibimbap (I know! What kind of foodie am I?). I usually stay away from bibimbap because it’s spicy and I’m a bit of a wimp. But the bibimbap at Coma Food Truck was actually manageable on the spice level. Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish made of mixed meat with sliced veggies, chili paste and an egg on top of rice. It was actually perfect for a cold day! And the chili paste wasn’t that spicy, there were some heated moments when I felt like my tongue was burning but only briefly, it was evened out by the sweet undertones in the chili paste. Also, the runny egg, sliced cucumber and other veggies were great cooling elements to balance out the spice.
I also loved that it came in a nice neat bowl because I did wrap some of it up to bring back to the office.
The other item we ordered from Coma Food Truck was the Bulgogi Taco. Encased in double corn tortillas were juicy chunks of spicy beef and lots of shredded veggies. Admittedly, this was a challenge to eat. I’m not sure how I did it without spilling it all over myself either. The thing I love about corn tortillas and Coma Food Truck is no exception, is that they hardly ever get soggy. Speaking of which, even though there was a generous dollop of sauce on top of the tacos, the shredded cabbage still remained crunchy and fresh. This was a delicious item, and again, very management on the spice levels even by my wimpy standards!
Next up, we visited fan favourite, Re-up BBQ Food cart. We just couldn’t ignore the menu item: Bacon Explosion written on the side of their cart. Since we were ordering lots of food, Dennis and I shared the Bacon Explosion and Michael Kaisaris, owner of Re-up was very kind about cutting our sandwich in half. The Bacon Explosion is a combo that comes with a piping hot cup of chili, sweet southern tea and a sandwich stuffed full of delicious smoked Canadian bacon.
At this point, everything became a challenge to carry in the rain, what with our giant golf umbrella, my camera and our boxes of food from Coma Food Truck. There were some tables under tents available for dining but since it was so crowded, we ducked into the mall to eat. After some careful rearranging of our take-out containers and cups of tea and chili of course.
By the time we found our seats the dollop of sour cream had already fully melted into the chili but it was still delicious, a wonderful cooling element in a smoky and spicy concoction jam packed with tender and moist shreds of pork submerged in the richest, thickest homiest chili I’ve had in a while.
Now onto this famous smoked bacon sandwich. I’m pretty sure Michael at the Re-up cart smokes this bacon himself. I remember reading Tweets about his homemade bacon last summer. I was pleased to find very thick cut pieces of bacon inside the sandwich. It could have been crispier along the edges but I think we waited too long to eat it. I was definitely happy about the fat to lean meat ratio though. The meat was very moist, juicy with a great smoky flavour.
The sweet southern tea not only went well with the smoky bacon sandwich but it also cooled down my tongue after the spicy food from Coma Food Truck!
Street Food City kicked off to a great start, despite rain! A complete list of participating food carts at Street Food City can be found here.