Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Off the Grid" at Civic Center: Food Truck Sightings

Sightings have been reported at the Civic Center Plaza every Friday at lunchtime. Food truck sightings, that is.

They are parked in front of City Hall like aliens on trucks that just landed bearing street food offerings for SF foodies.  They tease you with promises of ethnic food adventures--brought to you right in your own backyard!  These food truck vendors are  "Off the Grid"  participants--a foodie event in which a collection of different street food trucks get together at a certain park or street  in SF to sell their goodies from different cultures.

They have locations all over the San Francisco Bay area but every Friday they are at the Civic Center Plaza. Different foodtrucks rotate every Friday.

So far I have spotted:

Curry Up Now (Indian)

Chairman Bao (Chinese)

Liba (Mediterranean)

Ebbett's Good to Go (Cuban, Vietnamese, Mexican Sandwiches)
CUPKATES: "First Cupcake Truck in the Bay Area"


It's been few weeks since I've been spotting food trucks at the Civic Center Plaza every Friday from 11 am to 2:30 pm.  I still do not have any desire to get my lunch from any of them.  I am pretty aware of my own personal reservations: long lines, more expensive, not as convenient to eat, etc. 

However,  there's one that managed to penetrate my defenses--the cupcakes at Cupkates.  The Cupkate truck has partially turned me into a Pavlovian foodie. I see the truck, my mind starts imagining pastel icing on fluffy little cakes and I start to drool.  Even for $3 per little cupcake, it is almost worth it. 

My very first cupcake buy at Cupkate was the  Salted Caramel:  A moist chocolate cake topped with caramel buttercream and sprinkled with flaked sea salt. As described, the cake was moist and the seasalt added a nice texture of this pastry.  This is truly a sweet-savory experience.

I would eat half a dozen of these sweet little darlings in heartbeat but $3 per little cupcake is a bit steep. Not so pocketbook friendly but at least my waistline won't suffer! Cupkates offer many other decadent flavors but I am happy to stick with Salted Caramel, or maybe I will try Red Velvet next time.

Cupkates, just like almost every mobile food truck,  has been spotted both in the East Bay and various locations in San Francisco. Just check their website for their next location.

Cupkates - Mobile truck on Urbanspoon

SEOUL ON WHEELS: Korean meets Mexican Burrito
Lunch Time: September 17, 2010 @ 11:15 AM

Seoul on Wheel Food Truck

Since "Off the Grid" first came to Civic Center on September 3, 2010, nothing really caught my fancy.  And to be fair, I am a new seafood-tarian so my options are quite limited. So, just to jump on the food truck bandwagon I tried "Seoul on Wheels."  I wanted to try a Tofu Korito ($6): Tofu Burrito with salsa, rice, cheese and crema.  Unfortunately, any tofu dishes need to be called in before 10 am.

I settled for Kimchee Rice ($5). What I got was a big blob of messy red rice heavily mixed in with kimchi sauce with a little kimchi on the side and steamed broccoli.  It was not a pretty sight!The rice was just too mushy and oily. I definitely had better kimchi rice in the past.

Kimchee Rice ($5)

Seoul on Wheels on Urbanspoon

FOODIE GIRL'S RATING: 2.5 Greasy food. Friendly service.

Having been born and raised in the Philippines, street foods are nothing exotic for me although it is a new food craze in the Bay Area. Food stands are surreal part of the Manila landscape as much as the colorful and loud jeepneys on the streets. A child in Manila will never escape the lure of eating a skewer of fishballs or drinking "sago" sold on food carts no matter how health-conscious their parents were.

However, the popularity of street food has steadily risen during the last 3 years in the Bay Area since the sightings of the Tamele Lady during after hours on Mission and ever-reliable Mexican taco trucks.

I know I only tried one food truck from "Off the Grid." And it might not be fair to say "Been there,done that" as far as food trucks are concerned. Let me just put it this way--I am glad the food street craze has caught on here in the Bay Area.  I am happy for the small business owners to have a roving venue to sell their ware (which is the real philosophy behind street food--to give the family members in poor countries chance to  contribute to the family fund by selling their  homecooked food right in front of their house, or peddle their wares on the streets.) However, after having great street food in Manila, Bangkok and Singapore; and I like the comfort of four walls while eating my meals,   I will probably not spend my lunch time at "Off the Grid."

Lunch spot under the trees (porta potties included)


0 Star: Never again!!! These people should not be in business.
1 Star: Chalk it to bad experience. Live and learn.
2 Stars: Very disappointing but there it has some good things to offer.
3 Stars: It is okay but do not expect much. I will still return.
4 Stars: I like it! I will be singing your praises!
5 Stars: I will be dreaming of you at night!
6 Stars: Perfection (or close to!)

Off the Grid on Urbanspoon

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