Valentine’s Day dinner @curryupnow

I asked the Lovely and Talented where we should go for our Valentine’s day dinner (with the strong implication that I wasn’t really up for cooking), and was surprised when she said, “Let’s go to a food truck.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised, though – neither of us particularly enjoys going to restaurants when they’re crowded and busy, as everyplace tends to be on V.D.Curry Up Now Truck

So we got into her little car and trundled off to Sunnyvale to visit CurryUpNow, parked on El Camino Real in front of a car dealership.

As diligent readers may recall, I visited CurryUpNow briefly at the Word On the StreEatz event in San Jose in November, and I have been dying to get back to them.

Curry Up Now SpecialsI was afraid that we’d meet an amorous mob, kicking and biting and clawing in the name of romance, but we were the only ones there when we arrived. So we stood at the window, arm in arm, considering the menu carefully, and decided to grossly over-order so we could try more of the menu than we normally would.Β  There was a chalkboard of specials that night, and I wanted to get at least one of them. I was tempted by the Naughty Naan, but it felt wrong, there in front of my spouse, so I decided to embrace my inner Popeye and order the “Punjabi by Nature” with Saag (spinach) and Paneer Tikka Masala. The L&T ordered the regular Paneer Tikka Masala burrito, and we got an additional order of Sexy Fries because, well, they sounded sexy.

Curry Up Now Sexy FriesThe burritos came right up, but we had to wait a few extra minutes for the Sexy Fries to pull on their garter belts and straighten their bustier. But it was worth it: they were sexy, with sweet potato fries smothered in Paneer Tikka Masala (everything is available with either Paneer or Chicken Tikka Masala) and covered with melted cheese and sweet onion slivers. We dove in to it with gusto, but the L&T found the Tikka Masala just a bit spicier than she liked. We were able to find an accommodation, however, as she ate the onion slivers on top (her favorite part), then I ate most of the Tikka Masala, and she ate the fries.

Curry Up Now Paneer Tikka Masala burritoThe burrito, of course, was also a bit too spicy for her, although perfect for me: just enough spice to make the nose a bit runny, but not enough to deaden the flavor receptors. She needed a liberal dollop of Raita (yogurt-based dipping sauce from the vat in the ice next to the drinks) to bring down the heat of both the burrito and the fries, and then it was just about perfect for her.

Curry Up Now Punjabi by NatureMy burrito was also just as spicy, and a bit messier because of the addition of the Saag, but it was absolutely perfect for me. The flavor profile was just a bit different from the “regular” burrito, although just as spicy. I was able to down about 2/3 of the burrito and about 1/3 of the fries before I had to quit simply because I couldn’t fit any more in.

We packed our leftovers, happy and well-satisfied with our Valentine’s day choice, and buzzed home back down El Camino Real to feed each other chocolates on the sofa. A wonderful and romantic Valentine’s day, with our thanks to the Curry Up Now truck.

One last thing: when we got our order, they gave us a gift card as a “Valentine’s day special” good for $2 to $8 off our next meal. As if there was a chance I wouldn’t be back… πŸ˜‰

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@biggshrimpn – spicy and good

BiggShrimpn TruckIt was a big week for food trucks – Trisha and I went for our usual Friday lunchtime “company meeting” (hey, there’s 2 of us – we can meet wherever we want!) at Bigg Shrimpn, parked in the Century 21 parking lot across Winchester Blvd. from Santana Row.

The staff was friendly and there was no crowd, so we examined the menu carefully – it all looked really good. We ended up getting a Shrimp Banh Mi and an order of “Crawdaddy Shrimp.”

Our food was cooked to order, so it took a few minutes. Once we had it, we went off and sat on a traffic barrier under a tree to split the two dishes up and eat.

BiggShrimpn Banh MiThe Banh Mi was what I would call a cross-cultural special: it was a marriage of a traditional Louisiana Po’ Boy and a traditional Banh mi: served on a nice roll, it contained grilled shrimp, some cabbage, Vietnamese style pickled carrots and radish, and a nice Louisiana-style remoulade. We had split the sandwich, which was good because it was a generous portion.

It was doubly good because the “Crawdaddy Shrimp” were just as delicious. This is a nice portion (10 or so) of plump shrimp served fried in the shell (head on) with an amazing spice rub on the outside. I started out peeling them, which turned out to be a mistake, because the shell was fried to the perfect consistency for just chomping them right down. The spices were delicious, although a bit hot (we had asked for “5 out of 10” in spiciness). The plate is pictured served with a sauce, but ours had none and needed none – we just sat there and devoured the shrimp and laughed at each other because the spice made our noses run and our eyes tear up.

I apologize that the pictures of the Crawdaddy Shrimp didn’t come out so I don’t have one to share here – they are beautiful, and I’ll have to go back and get some so I can get a good picture (ah, the sacrifices I make!).

While we were hanging out eating, Viet (sp?) came out from the truck and talked with us. He is a genuine San Jose guy who is getting to realize his dream of running a restaurant by having a food truck. Of course I have to applaud that – I love the fact that food trucks let a young guy with talent and ideas start a culinary business with much less capital than would be needed for a restaurant.

We are definitely fans and I’ll certainly be back!

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Drowning my sorrows: @we_sushi and, yes, @TheWOWTruck

I went to see my doctor the other day in Sunnyvale. Since I was in Sunnyvale and I wasn’t really happy about the news he had for me, I decided to indulge in exploring a new food truck or two.

We Sushi TruckChecking Twitter, I found We Sushi just down the street a ways, so I drove down there. This is a beautiful truck with a sushi bar on board; Laura (@veggietruckin) had said good things about them, so I thought I’d give them a go.

We Sushi MenuThey have a fascinating regular menu, but I was immediately attracted to the specials. We Sushi SpecialsThey had two interesting items available as sashimi or nigiri: hotate (scallop) and walli (which they identified as butterfish, which I have heard referred to as ebodai). I decided to get one order of each along with their special dessert of the day, a French Macaron.

The sushi came, and it was beautiful: two pieces of each kind of Nigiri, with a little pickled ginger and a knob of wasabi.

Ever since my last trip to Japan, I have tended not to use much wasabi when I am trying to detect all the delicate flavors of sushi. Still, I love the stuff.

I was, I’m sorry to report, a bit disappointed. Sushi (despite popular belief) is about the rice, not the fish. Their sushi, although delicious, was a very small helping huddled under the sashimi. I would have liked about twice as much.

Further, although the hotate was perfect, the Walli was not. Mine had a small membrane, making the delicate fish difficult to bite off. It was delicious, just not what I had expected from “butterfish.” I have been to Japan several times, and I eat sushi around the Bay Area fairly frequently. This was good, but not among the best I have had.

We Sushi MacaronAh, but dessert was amazing – a tiny but perfect macaron – light, fluffy meringue filled with a rich, slightly chewy center. Only about an inch across, it was gone in two small bites, but it was delightful.

I’ll be back to We Sushi and try more items on their menu – I certainly won’t let two little pieces of nigiri dissuade me!

The WOW TruckWhen I was first deciding where to go, however, I noticed that The WOW Truck was down the street a bit. I apologized earlier for never going to The WOW Truck, and my friend Bill chastised me for never even trying their Turon – banana fried in a crispy shell. So I flew down the road, parked behind the truck, paid my dollar, and got my Turon. And it was great – I was enjoying mine so much the guy standing next to me decided to order one, too. WOW Truck – here’s a new tagline for you: “They’re so good, they’re contagious.”The WOW Truck Turon

There is a funny part to this story – as I was driving away, I was thinking about my previous post about The WOW Truck in which I complained that I only ate one of the three main ingredients of a Silog. I realized that I probably could have asked them to just make me a nice helping of Sinangog (Garlic Rice, the “Si” in Silog), which I would have really enjoyed in my “rice-deprived” state after We Sushi.

Oh, well… next time!


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@speedypanini – good food, good company!

My friend Jon and I have a Wednesday bike-riding appointment, but he couldn’t make it the other day. So I decided to go anyway and try to find something to make him jealous.

Speedy Panini TruckI was successful.

I noticed that Speedy Panini was parked up at the Lockheed facility off Montague Expressway. It’s about a 7.5 mile ride from home, which is a good distance to build up an appetite.

Speedy Panini MenuI checked out the review from @veggietruckin and found that she had said good things about the Caprese Panino, but had not tried the vegetarian because she’s allergic to eggplant. Now I had an imperative – for the good of my friend Laura, for the good of the food truck community, and, most importantly, for the good of my own lunch, I had to have the Veggie Panino!

Speedy Panini SandwichNow, I have had a LOT of grilled vegetable sandwiches, and most of them are, frankly, pedestrian. You really can’t go too far wrong by grilling a bunch of veggies (unless you burn them…) and putting them in good bread with some nice condiments. But there are so many more possibilities, and the Speedy Panini Veggie proves that abundantly.

First, the ingredients: fresh Acme bakery Ciabatta (I saw the Acme bags in the truck when I walked up), filled with fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella sliced perfectly thick, and then grilled eggplant, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Most importantly, the veggies were grilled perfectly and seasoned to bring out their flavors. It was all perfectly balanced and utterly delicious.

Speedy Panini CannoliThey had a special dessert – mini-cannoli. Cannoli always make me think of wandering New York and going into little Italian delis, so I ordered one.

It was a perfect little bite, about three inches long, with a sweet, creamy center laced liberally with pistachios. It was delicious, and didn’t live long.

About the time I finished, my friend and doppleganger, Bill Moore (@foodtrucknerd) showed up. It was great to see him again, and he ordered “Grandma’s Lasagne.” Even though it contained boiled eggs, which he disclosed are not his favorite (mine, either!), he said it was pretty darned good, and it looks it. He clicked his iconic photo, and I couldn’t resist sharing his photography secrets with everyone. Sorry, Bill – nothin’ but love! πŸ™‚

All I know is that Jon won’t miss the next ride to Speedy Panini, and I can’t wait!

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An apology to @TheWOWTruck, @Grillstars, @RoadDogsSJ, @Yumsilog, and others…

I want to issue an official and truly contrite apology to a number of good, worthy food trucks in the Silicon Valley that I neglect because they don’t serve any veggie dishes. The WOW Truck is the foremost of these – I have walked past them too many times without ever stepping up and ordering their wonderful wares simply because a Silog comprises meat, rice, and egg, and I only eat one of those ingredients.

But I was moved to apology when I walked by GrillStars the other day and then, again, this morning when I saw yesterday’s (2/3/12) question of the day – Q: What is on our vegetarian sandwich? A: third lb beef patty, brisket, pulled pork, bacon, fried egg, BBQ sauce, fiesta sauce, French fries.

Hey, I love these guys even if I don’t eat at their truck! We’re sharing a sense of humor, if not a culinary sensibility!

My friends Trisha and Jon help out, and I’m going to be looking for more carnivorous friends to help me get these trucks added to these august electronic pages.

In the meantime, all I have is apologies… sorry, guys!

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@SmallTimeCooks7 and @grillazgonewild in one lunch – yum! (burp!)

I haven’t been around much lately, so I was glad to see I had a lunchtime free a week or so ago. On a blustery day, I went up to the former car lot on Barber lane (behind Cisco, down the street from the Milpitas Square shopping center) to see an interesting (relatively) new food truck, Small Time Cooks. They had sent me a tweet when they first started, and I just haven’t had time to come try them.

Food trucks on Barber Ln.So, when I got there, I was delighted to see not one but three trucks: Small Time Cooks in the middle, flanked by Grillazgonewild and Grillstars!

Small Time CooksI started out (loyally) at Small Time Cooks – the one thing you can say at first glance is that they’re not wasting any money on fancy decorations. Plain white truck, menu out front, just that simple: all about the food. The other two trucks are rolling billboards with beautiful wraps, but STC is just a plain, white truck (I suspect that will change…)

Their menu is equally simple and easy to understand (sorry for cutting off the top corner):STC menu

I had developed a plan when I arrived to try for a “two-fer,” so I wanted to just sample their wares. I ordered two tacos: one Mushroom Tofu and one Paneer Tikka. They took my order and made them fresh, and it only took a few minutes.

When the tacos arrived, they were certainly pretty. STC tacosPerfect small bites on a tiny corn tortilla, each with several sauces, served with a slice of lime. The mushroom taco was tasty, but it was my least favorite. Even though I love mushrooms, there wasn’t as much flavor in the mushrooms and the tofu as I’d like. Further, the two sauces on the mushroom taco didn’t add that much and actually clashed a bit with the mushrooms and each other. Of course, please understand that I didn’t exactly leave it sitting around… it was gone in a matter of seconds!

The paneer taco came with two sauces, a pico de gallo and a mint chutney, but it worked a lot better. It was quite delicious and I’d recommend it to anyone.

I’ll be back to the STC truck for a burrito next time!

Grillazgonewild truckSince I was there, I took a look at GrillStars and Grillazgonewild, as well. GrillStars specializes in grilled meat, which is great, but (as will be discussed on a future post) not what I’m looking for.

Grillazgonewild specializes in Cheesesteak sandwiches, and they had one called “Vegetarian” on the menu.

I was in such a generous mood after my tacos from STC that I spared them my usual joke (“I want the vegetarian, but I want a lean piece, sliced real thin, ‘cuz they can get stringy”) and ordered the vegetarian sandwich.

grillazgonewild sandwichIt was also made fresh, and took a couple of minutes. It normally comes with mashed avocado, but they forgot mine, so I got them on the side and dumped them on top of the sandwich after I took the picture.

As you can see, it is about as expected: grilled mushrooms, onions, and peppers with gooey melted cheese on a soft, toasted roll. It was served with absolutely wonderful fries and a container of ketchup.

I love a sandwich like this, and I really enjoyed this one. I promised myself that I’d only eat half the sandwich and half the fries, but I finally stopped (unable to eat any more) when there were two bites of sandwich and a couple of fries left. And it wasn’t easy to let those fries go – perfectly crisp, soft in the middle, well-salted – everything you’d hope fo.

Honestly, it wasn’t the best sandwich I have ever had; the veggies could have used more seasoning, and the avocado ended up adding to the overall blandness (next time, I mix in a good dollup of Sriracha). But it was still pretty good.

I’ll come back to Grillazgonewild with some serious cheesesteak people and we’ll get a better read on them.

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@omininjasj and @treatbot

Treatbot and OmininjasLast week Trisha and I went out to lunch up near Cisco, where Omininjas and Treatbot were serving. It was actually a beautiful day, with warm enough sunshine that we found ourselves retreating to the shade.

Omininjas Banh Mi - tofu left, steak rightIt was a perfect day for Omininjas – although I was disappointed that they didn’t have any bΓΊn, we were both excited to get banh mi. I got tofu, of course, while Trisha got steak.

We ate our sandwiches on a small wall in the shade; the tofu was just as good as it always is, and Trisha said the steak was also great. She’s a relative newbie to Viet Namese food, but she found plenty to like there with the Ninjas.

When we were done, we were both quite full, but, after all, TreatBot was right there, and we really couldn’t say “no” to an ice cream sandwich. The nice folks at TreatBot were good enough to “split” an ice cream sandwich for us, so we each got a cookie and a generous scoop of ice cream. It was an absolutely perfect end to a terrific lunch on a beautiful fall day.

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A chance meetup at @hosonwheels

House of Siam on WheelsOnce again Jon and I took to the road today for our usual Wednesday ride. I saw that House of Siam on Wheels was at Lockheed (at Montague and Zanker) today, so we agreed to make that our destination.

We got there a little after noon and ordered our lunches – Jon ordered the Thai Style Basil Chicken, and I ordered a Tofu Thai Taco and the Vegi Pad Thai.Thai Basil Chicken

The service was pretty slow – one guy in front of us was waiting for his soup for so long he finally just left. I was amazed- I would have taken one of the tires from the truck if I didn’t get my food on time, but he just walked away.

Tofu TacoJon got his chicken, then I got my taco a few minutes late, so at least we could start eating together. The taco was great, with spicy tofu a sweet-and-hot sauce on it.Β  Jon said that the Basil Chicken was absolutely delicious – it certainly looked and smelled it.

I finally got my pad thai and was eating it, when a moment for which I have been waiting finally happened: my reflection in the mirror stepped up to me and said, “Hi, Bill! I’m Bill!”

So I think we might have to dispel the rumors now: Bill Moore, the Food Truck Nerd, and I are actually different people. Mainly, he’s younger and better-looking than I am, but it was very funny that we were both there AND both sporting facial hair at the moment.

But it didn’t stop there – he was laughing when we shook hands, and he said, “Do you know who this guy over here is?” Kyle, the boyfriend of Laura, the VeggieTruckin’ blogger, was standing just a few feet away.

Honey BBQ ChickenSo we stood around in the slightly blustery weather of a late November afternoon in Silicon Valley and talked about the business of food trucks, blogging, and how cool it is to get to go out and eat at these amazing restaurants-on-wheels. Bill, by the way, got the Honey Barbeque Chicken, which looked and smelled really good – Jon said that’s what he’d be getting next time he came.

Pad ThaiI was so happy to finally meet these two I almost forgot about the Pad Thai… but not quite. It was delicious, – not too sweet, with the same spicy tofu strips in it (and a chunk of chicken – not really a welcome surprise), some nice veggies, and lots of chewy noodles. I drizzled some of the thai hot sauce over the top. I wish that they had served it with a little lemon or lime for acid, but the noodles were perfect and delicious.

Jon did voice his concern that two-thirds of the veggie-trucking blogging braintrust of Silicon Valley were in one place at one time – issues of significant regional security must be considered. However, I had to remind him that two-thirds of my regular readership was also present there; he kind of looked down, shuffled his feet around a little bit, so I corrected it to “half of my regular readership.”

Well, at least my Mom wasn’t there.


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Nom happens… @NomNomTruckSF vs. @OMiNinjaSJ

As you might recall from my original post about Omininjas, I was looking forward to the NomNomSF Truck coming down to the south bay so we could “compare and contrast.” Well, last weekend it finally happened!

Saturday night was the annual cross-downtown rivalry in basketball: SJSU vs. SCU. at Santa Clara, and they invited several food trucks to come over and feed the crowd. We live clost to SCU, so the Lovely and Talented and I trundled on over there.

The Santa Clara parking folks could not have been nicer – they directed us to a secondary lot where we could park, and we walked over to the trucks. The lines were long, but there it was, the first time (at least I have seen it) in the south bay: The NomNom Truck.

NomNom MenuWe got into line, got to visit with some friends, and then, there we were: at the front of the line. I had been watching their tweets, and they had been talking about some extra items on their menu for the last week. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any mushroom pate, nor did they have limeade, so we got two tofu tacos and a tofu banh mi.

NomNom TruckService was quick and friendly – we had our food in a few minutes and retired to the truck with our prizes.

The tacos were very small, but extremely tasty. The tortillas were normal steamed corn “bite size” tortillas, with delicious tofu and crunchy cabbage. They were topped with a spicy sauce which we both found to be “just perfect” – adding to the flavor without being too hot. They disappeared in a hurry.NomNom Tacos

We split the banh mi between us. The roll was delicious – soft with a crunchy crust. It had in it the same magnificent tofu – served soft and extremely well-marinated, juicy all the way through and filled with flavor.Β  It was served with the normal banh mi accoutrements: pickled carrots and radishes, mayonnaise sauce, and sliced peppers. The L&T requested the peppers on the side; she ate her sandwich without them, while I added some to my half. Both of us loved it.NomNom Sandwich

So the question has to be asked: Omininjas or NomNom?

Well, it’s a tough choice, no question. The NomNom food is awesome, delicious, and worth the wait. But, for my money, I’ll be an Omininjas more often than NomNom for three important reasons:

  1. We like to “buy local” – NomNom has staked their claim to San Francisco, while Omininjas are dedicated to the south bay,
  2. Omininjas has more interesting vegetarian options (most of the time), and
  3. Omininjas is more likely to be here when I’m hungry! πŸ˜‰

But we’ll make NomNom welcome when they’re in town! πŸ˜‰


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Shout out to Veggie Truckin’ and FoodTruckNerd!

Just wanted to point out that Veggie Truckin’ has some new posts up, including a bunch of local trucks I haven’t tried yet. Twister Truck, a new “twist” on Mexican cuisine, Sanguchon, Peruvian street food, Project Cupcake, and more.

Laura is awesome – listen to her interview with Bill Moore (FoodTruckNerd – who is also awesome, of course) – his blog has the nice advantage that most of the content is delivered via podcast, so you can just listen to it instead of having to read.

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