May 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
Keep in mind that I was not the last person in line when I took this.
Despite being in Los Angeles during the early stages of the Korean/Southwest/ican fusion days, and being in the area a few times since, I still haven’t manged to sample a single thing from the Kogi trucks despite all the great things I’ve heard about them. Unfortunately for me, this has build up quite a few years of anxiousness and fantasizing about what this combination could taste like. Well, unfortunately for Yumbii, that is, there has been a lot of curiosity and desire and it’s pretty difficult to live up to years of expectations and guesswork. It would have been nice to have a frame of reference at least, but I do not and this is what I discovered with Yumbii.
This was my second attempt at this truck. I have yet to go to Hanook Taqueria, and I plan on trying them out to check out a more extensive menu, but so far I’ve had pretty much the same experience both times I’ve had the truck. Unfortunately, that is lackluster despite what the extremely long wait line I experienced that day would suggest. Of course, it isn’t always like that—I’ve seen them with short waits at Atlantic station before, but that day was a particularly long wait—so much in fact that I managed to hit up two other places while someone else waited to place the order for us, return with food, and eat the food well before we were able to place our order.
Stir Fry Tofu Taco
sesame salad, wedge of lime
I’d had this before last year when I saw them at a festival and I was told that the tofu and the beef were the way to go. This is what I’ve heard from various fans of Hanook/Yumbii, and it is disappointing when what is highly recommended fails to impress. I enjoy my fair share of tofu from time to time. It has a fantastic ability to really soak up and take on the flavors that surround it and can be a bit of a chameleon when it comes to texture. Of course my favorite way to have tofu is mixed with and marinating in meat juices and fats Asian-style where it can sing with umami, but I digress. Tofu can be great seared, pan fried properly, or fried in a variety of ways (Whole Foods chicken-fried tofu, I’m looking at you). I can see why even meat eaters can enjoy this once in a while as suggested by fans of Yumbii. This Korean-style stir fried tofu as a taco could be good, but it’s not. Again, this could be a truck execution problem, but this tasting played on the memory of my trying this prior. The tofu was dry and spongy and yet didn’t manage to soak up much of the surrounding flavors at all. I’m not entirely sure there were any flavors there to soak up for that matter. Once you got past the thick covering of large pieces of fresh romaine, there was a drizzle of sweet chili sauce which is about as unimaginative and unexciting from-the-jar flavor to simply add on top. The lime helped things out a little bit as lime often does, but it couldn’t do anything to help out the thickness of the flour tortilla. A real miss for me and there wasn’t any particularly exciting or even particularly Korean flavor working to save this or even convince me to try it again.
spicy pulled pork topped with cucumber kimchee, jack cheese, and sesame salad
The doughy and borderline gummy buns of the slider seemed to meld into the mildly spicy, mushy-soft pork held together by the glue threads of pepper jack cheese. The only thing keeping the bite from being entirely mushy and gooey was the thin piece of lettuce and the stray cucumber that I found, and perhaps more textural differences such as these might have helped save it for me, but really it was one doughy mush bite that left me straining to detect some flavor note that stood out, but all it did was blend uninspiringly into itself.
with chipotle ketchup
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I happen to find these kind of amazing. They were wonderfully hot from the fryer, and they have this lovely battered, midly sweet-tinged umami golden sesame crunch and were even better than I remembered them (and my prior memory was a fond one as well). The contrast against the curried/chipotle ketchup is an unusual yet pleasant pairing, and I would consider these downright craveable.
I really want this to work for me, and I want to believe that these are somewhere near as tasty of concoctions as they serve in Los Angeles, but I am unsure. I’m willing to give Hankook a try, but I will probably be wary of the Yumbii truck offerings especially if the line is particularly long. Of course, there are those sesame fries, but even still I’m not even convinced that is worth any extent of waiting for.
May 24, 2011 § 2 Comments
This was one of my three stops when I visited the Thursday food truck lunch gathering in Midtown at 10th & Peachtree and Woodruff Arts Center. From my understanding, they are located at Woodruff Arts Center location every Thursday until further notice. One of the more praised food trucks around, I was curious to sample their unique savory cones. Unfortunately as this was the first lunch experience on Thursdays, they were admittedly unprepared for the masses and apologetic about it. As I stood in a fairly long line, I watched a few items be erased from the menu and one new one was also added. It kept me on my toes, and I manged to get one of the new items as well as the very last of another.
savory curry waffle cone filled with cold samosa potato salad and topped with mint yogurt and tamarind chutney
The mint yogurt and tamarind chutney were a little nicer-looking and slightly more present before a potato covered in both decided to take a nose dive into my purse, and this photograph was shortly after that fact. The cone itself was mildly sweet and lightly curried with a texture a little softer and less crunchy than a standard freshly made waffle cone of the ice cream variety. The cold samosa filling with lovely little pops of fresh peas did a good job of flavoring the potatoes. I enjoyed what little there was of the yogurt and tangy tamarind chutney, but I think there could have been a bit more of it. Yes, I lost a tiny bit of it, but once you got past that first bite, there wasn’t any more inside. It would have been nice to have a dollop or two of these things hiding inside. While this was good, it wasn’t terribly exciting nor did it push any flavor profile boundaries for me. I also think that the cone itself was a little bit too sweet for me and would have preferred a different flavor pairing there. Still, an interesting idea and I’m certainly planning on trying them again perhaps with the then-sold-out Parmesan cone.
French toast bun, beef hot dog, topped with apple-maple slaw
Oh, the last Poodle off the truck! Oh, how the last one offered got the short end of the execution stick! The flavors somehow have stuck with me in my memory, however, so that’s a good thing, right? Well, the french toasted bun was a miss. I’m not even sure it got too much of a dip in the French toast batter nor did it get a nice french toast brown to it other than the tiny tiny bit at the top in the picture. Although it must have been dipped in something because it was rather soggy–you can see the bun beginning to rip apart at the bottom. I wonder what their standard is for this bun because I’m guessing what I got wasn’t it. The hot dog itself, on the other hand, was really quite good. It was rich juicy, fatty meat goodness and cut through the maple syrup sweetness perfectly. The apples provided a nice softened crisp textural element, but the hot dog really dominated the flavor. The drizzles I added of a little more syrup and stone ground mustard were really nice and I kind of liked this even though it was a bit of a soggy mess. I’d try it again to see how off of the standard this one was because I suspect it could be much better.
Cold Sesame Noodles
whole wheat noodles, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers in sesame dressing
I only sampled one bite of this, so I can’t comment too extensively, but it was surprisingly light for being mostly carb, and rather nice and refreshing in the heat. I didn’t pick up a lot of flavor from the sauce, however.
Good Food truck offers a fun option for street food with some creative ideas. Despite some execution flaws this time around, I found the flavor concepts interesting enough to certainly give them another chance and would still recommend dropping by and seeing what they are serving up. I hear their Parmesan cone is a great bet, and I’m anxious to try it.
May 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
King of Pops
Locations vary; check website for details.
While waiting in line for the food trucks on the first Thursday of Midown’s street food gathering, I spied the tell-tale chalk sign and thought it a good idea to have a little “waiting” amuse-bouche popsicle to tickle the palette and combat the Atlanta heat. But really, is there ever not a good time for a King of Pops popsicle? I think not. Their fresh(ly frozen) fruits and natural ingredients are apparent in every pop, but we all have our favorites, and I’m on the search to try them all and find mine. Currently, the top runner in my mind is coconut lemongrass, and I’m hard pressed not to get it if I see it. It is predominately coconut, creamy and slightly icy at the same time with what I presume must be a mix of both coconut milk and water, a little hint of lemongrass keeps it from being mundane. The coconut works wonderfully and seems to last forever as the flavor never manages to pry itself from the ice like some other flavors do. But as this flavor wasn’t there for me to reanalyze, I settled for some alternatives.
Green Apple Lemonade (left)
A subtly tart, almost oversweetned lemonade-heavy popsicle with a frosty bite to it. I know from my sorbet making experience that it’s difficult to get citrus to end up tasting sharp and a little watered down when it’s frozen, and this was no exception. It was a little less flavorful than other ones I’ve tried, but that goes with the territory. What did work for it was that it felt a little more refreshing in the heat, so it served its purpose. The disappointment was that the green apple didn’t really get a chance to shine through other than in some minute fibrous bits throughout, but again, that’s a difficult combination to pull off in a frozen treat. It was still refreshing.
Arnold Palmer (right)
I’ve never been a fan of sweet tea myself, and I’m certainly not much of a fan of arnold palmers in general, but this was really well executed and sort of won me over. It had the right depth of flavor and sweetness that lended well to being frozen. It was refreshing and had a nice flavor balance of sweetness and tea bitterness with a tang of lemon that left me satisfied.
Strawberry Orange Banana
Is simple best when it comes to popsicles? This tastes pretty much how you’d expect, but still better given the quality of ingredients and lack of fillers. The orange gets a little lost in the mix, but still emerges in subtle notes as you continue to taste the pop especially when you hit one of the numerous little pieces of pulp throughout. The center stage flavors are a really nice balance of strawberry and banana. The popsicle is pleasantly creamy on the lick due to the nature of the main fruits involved, although a little icy on the bite still as it doesn’t contain milk. There are nice bits of strawberry seeds and pulp that really sell this one to me, and it’s sweetened perfectly letting the fruit stars really shine on their own. It’s certainly above and beyond what you’d find at any store, and does not taste watered down in the slightest.
I have nothing but love for the King of Pops and their ability to be at every festival, food truck area, and different local businesses around town. I am pretty much going to pick one up at nearly every opportunity, and with their ever-evolving selection of flavors, how can I not keep going back to try them all?