Bacon Trolley

Bacon-Trolley

http://bacontrolley.com/

https://twitter.com/bacontrolley

Main Location: St. Paul

            In the last year, St. Paul experienced something wonderful; the arrival of a Choo Choo carting cured, smoked pork belly, so-called the Bacon Trolley. What really can I say about this bright red food cart made from an actual small trolley?

           Every single damn item has bacon (well, except the fries… boooooo), of which mostly comprises some kind of sandwich and the random taco.

           … it seems many places can’t stand opening up a food stand without a taco… oh well, they taste good.

            The plethora of pork is turned into a very interesting and tasty variety of options. Including a bahn mi made with rich, fatty pork belly (if you have never had pork belly before, this is a good excuse), popcorn tossed with bacon, and a sandwich called the SPANKER! shoved full of all different types of pork (one of which I think is cooked with beer or something… they said so many delicious things I sort of blanked out). Even some bacon to go (seriously, just regular slices of bacon… to go).

B-T 1

            Personally, I don’t get the last one too much, as it’s just regular thin-sliced bacon in a pack (was hoping for the big, meaty bacon like at the Fair), but you gotta admit it’s convenient… and still bacon!

Food: 8

            Pork Belly and Bacon is fantastic, and the sandwiches are great for those with the craving of the salty, meaty goodness; no words can be truly said for the SPANKER!. However, though the Bahn Mi has good bread and ingredients, I would not say it is the best of your options, certainly in the top 5. The rest of the menu sticks with simpler pleasures; both the BLT and Bacon To-Go are good but lack the extra qualities and ingredients to really make you pray to the Gods of Pork on their own. Fries tend to cost more if you want them.

Holdability: 8

             Varies. The Bahn Mi and Bacon easy for one hand; Tacos and BLT for two; popcorn is popcorn; and I imagine one really needs to find a seat for the SPANKER!… quite a messy beast, though worth it.

Price: 8

           Most of the prices are the same as their score; the popcorn comes in really affordable, but the SPANKER! comes in a couple bucks higher, so overall it’s decently priced but at the very slightly higher end.

rdm 0011 bacon trolley

Speed: 8

           Good and average, no worry about wait.

The TOE: 10

            For the love of god, it is a TROLLEY that sells BACON, that is its THEME! That alone completely fills the slot for the real food truck attitude, not to mention the creation of the SPANKER! (ask them about it, it’s quite something). It is the unique focus of a truck on something such as this that usually acts as one of those particular unknown factors that makes you remember and keep coming back.

                       Tally: 42/50

Final Thoughts

            If you don’t have any worries on cutting back lunch costs or have saved up slightly and just want some PORK, go for the top sandwiches and find your happy place. It’s also a good place to stand in front of and take pictures.

           For those relaxing in the city park or walking around, the Bacon Popcorn is a fun $2 snack to keep your tongue’s full attention.

Gai Gai Thai

ggt1

www.facebook.com/gaigaithai

https://twitter.com/gaigaithai

Main Location: Markets, Etc

            I should say this flat out and get it out of the way; as far as I know, Gai Gai Thai doesn’t have a food truck. Normally, that qualification alone would make me completely disregard any notion of writing a review on them for my blog. However, reading through their page, visiting them, I have such respect and pride for what it is they do, that I just can’t bring myself to not share them with those who don’t yet know.

            GGT is, as one would imagine, a Thai and Asian-flavor based Market Stand that focuses on using local farm produce in their dishes. Their menu items change very often, depending on what’s available, and most likely, their mood, which makes it very fun to come back to. Dishes themselves don’t even present themselves as street food; these are things that one would usually expect to find in a restaurant setting. Bowls, rice dishes, salad with fried polenta sticks, you name it.

ggt2

            Breakfast/Brunch items seem to be a favorite for them, going along with the Asian coffee they crank out. The one time I visited, I had a simple dish of rice, egg, and hot sauce in the morning… I’ll let you know about it in the ratings.

            I’m hoping that more people get a chance to try them, because they do such a wonderful job with the small, comforting home-like dishes that they create.

Food: 9

           As I mentioned, the food here is like something one might find in a restaurant, and the flavor is the same indication. The dish of  rice and eggs I got at the time only comprised three ingredients (plus seasoning), yet I couldn’t get enough of it. It was so good; if anyone has ever had that PERFECT, properly done fried rice, you know what I’m talking about.

           I’ve only had that single item, and their menu comprises a variety of much different things, so I can’t fully score them. But if that rice dish is an indication, I don’t think one has to worry about what they order.

Holdability: 4

           Again, restaurant food, not street food. These are bowls, noodle dishes, salads, etc. They are made in a way where it is not difficult to eat them even while walking, but points are still going to be shaved off.

Price: 6

ggt3

            Reflecting the local produce, these are higher priced menu items; even my simple rice and eggs wasn’t that friendly on me. But it’s good, and most definitely worth it if you have the cash.

Speed: 6

            It takes a while longer to prepare food like this. That’s something one can’t get around. I myself had to wait a little longer than usual because the person cooking accidentally goofed up the egg and had to start over. But, at the same time that’s an admiral quality in someone cooking your food; they take the time to make it right. I was so happy for that. I certainly wasn’t impatient at all, and was rewarded.

The TOE: 5

            Again, this isn’t an actual food truck, and as such there are certain little things which are missing because of it. Keeping to local products, however, and that striving to make these very flavorful items filled with their love is still part of that Street Food Culture. It earns a lot of my respect and admiration.

               Tally: 30/50

Final Thoughts

            I’m not sure if this is one I would “seek out” just to get this, because you really would just be getting this. However, if you decide to go to one of the Farmer’s Markets where they happen to be located and are looking for something to eat, certainly stop by and order an item. They make a great breakfast, give good coffee, and are a good local business to support.

            The final score may be lower than a lot others that I post on here, but I still think they are a must-try for when you’re relaxing from chasing Food Trucks.

Potter’s Pasties and Pies

pp2

www.potterspasties.com/

https://twitter.com/PottersPasties  

 

Main Location: Minneapolis and St. Paul

            At some point during the 1800’s, the history-soaked baked good known as the Pastie arrived within the Minnesotan borders. For some reason or another (PLEASE don’t ask me the details, I don’t have a clue) it integrated itself into the food traditions much like the Polish, German, and other immigrant-brought foods. You should thank whatever God or Science you pray to that it did, and when you eat one, you shall understand why.

            Potter’s Pasties, the geniuses that they are, celebrate this old British and Minnesotan food tradition by selling these homemade pasties to the masses. Beginning their bread-laden renaissance three years ago in St. Paul, they have skyrocketed themselves to one of the most recognizable and popular stands. So much so, in fact, they were able to buy another truck this last year so that they could sell in St. Paul AND Minneapolis AT THE SAME TIME. I all but fainted the day I saw the new truck in my old Minneapolis stomping grounds.

pp1

            Why are they so popular exactly? Well, let me inform you of what it is they’re selling. That being 5 different rich, comfort-bringing fillings, alongside whatever special pasties they decided to make. Slowly cooked with simple but strong, nostalgic flavors. These include the Traditional ground beef and potato, a Chicken Pot Pie, a Pulled Pork with Apples and Coriander (my favorite), and a Thai Vegetable made with red coconut curry (almost tied for my favorite).

[See the end of the Post for a FUN Lesson on Britain and Curry!]

            Around the fillings is wrapped this bread-like PASTRY crust, handmade of course, and extensively tested by the chef for what I’m guessing was quite some time, because it is PERFECT. It is thick and firm, crispy on outside yet tender with some flakiness on the inside, some of it soaking up the juices without making the entire thing soggy. It has FLAVOR, that perfect savory pastry flavor that works with the filling for a heavenly experience of handheld pie (god I think I just said something dirty…).

            It’s difficult to think about what else to talk about for Potter’s, when you start thinking about the food there you just stop caring about any other detail. When it comes to what I believe truly qualifies a Food Truck to be a Food Truck, , Potters stands as a shining beacon. Go there, I promise you will not regret it at all.

            Oh, did I mention you can order partially-cooked Pasties to take home and finish cooking yourself for dinner? Yeah, you can do that.

Food: 9

        The only reason which I do not place this at a perfect 10 is because every once in a good while, they have a slight problem with consistency. The filling isn’t as perfect as it always is. It is still good and great, but it is something that should be warned of and remarked on. Also, the desserts they offer aren’t exactly the best, though I have heard they’ve improved recently.

       Other than that, buttery rich crust with the tastiest, homiest fillings; and they are FILLING. Those without large stomachs will often find this their meal for the day. If you’re thirsty, you can get a cup of hot or iced Vietnamese coffee, very tasty with the Beef.

potters-pasties-traditional

Holdability: 10

       These were ORIGINALLY MADE just to be eaten with your hands, and though the stuffing is a stew of sorts, it does NOT fall out. One-handed perfection, there is no worry of mess at all. They are THE perfect street food, in every sense of the word.

                Price: 8.5

       Usually around 9.50, with some lower, but worth it, COMPLETELY worth it.

                Speed: 10

      You tell them what you want, give them money, and they hand it to you; that’s it! No waiting! It’s all precooked and held warm; which, normally, isn’t a good sign for food, but pasties were created for holding heat. Again, they’re the perfect street food.

                The TOE: 10

       When you have a place like this, that focuses its efforts on a specific, unique kind of food, and does it WELL, while inside a vehicle with the British flag painted on it, you’ve got something special. In my first post, when I talked about what this rating is for, when I mentioned the “unknown factors,” this is what I was talking about. There is just something… “about” this place that makes you love it. Every single point of Food Truck glory is hit and hit hard, but it isn’t just that; the place stands out, and reminds you of home. That’s why I’m going to keep going back to eat, and keep eating what they serve. As far as I’m concerned they are the best Food Truck in Minnesota.

                Service: +3

       The truck is Open-Air, making it so easy to talk to the people behind it when you order. I’ve had some nice little conversations about food and trucks, not to mention pasties. Do you remember me mentioning their “daily special pasties” earlier? Those aren’t just what the chef wants; you can make your suggestions on what kind of Pastie you’d like to eat a day or two beforehand, and they will most likely make one to sell for that day. Now THAT is how you do Daily Specials.

            Tally: 50.5/50

Final Thoughts

      Just go here, if you’re looking for food and Potter’s is on the street, visit and get something good; make sure to ask what their special is. It is perfect for the cool fall or early spring day, when you get that hot, soul-warming mixture with a nice cup of hot Vietnamese coffee.

      For now, avoid the desserts; see if you can trick a friend or see someone else buy one. Then judge whether it would be good or not (again, I hear they’re improved now, but unsure).

Indian Butter Chicken Curry

[What follows is a little paragraph discussing British Curry. Ignore if you want, read on if it looks fun!]

            Some of you may have reacted to an certain menu item saying “Wait, Thai Vegetable, that doesn’t sound British, are they just doing a little Asian twist here?” or something of the like. The answer is NO. Anybody that knows about English history and their cuisine can inform you that due to the old British Trade Controls taking center in India oh so many years back, in a sense ruling the country for quite some time, culinary habits and tastes immigrated, along with the people, between the two countries .

           This resulted in a large sub-culture of Indian and Thai cooking within the English cities, and a new love for Curries and the like; this can be seen within the many Indian restaurants all around the country. Which is why, if you ever get the chance to head to London, one should try to stop at an Indian restaurant for Curry; it is always a fun and divine experience.

[So now you’re looking at me in a weird way because I ignored how the Pasty came here and yet somehow know so much about British Curry history… well I have a very selective memory okay!!? And curry tends to take top priority!]

World Street Kitchen

wsk2

http://www.eatwsk.com/

https://twitter.com/eatwsk1  

Main Location: Minneapolis

            The brainchild of Saffron creators Saeh and Sameh Wadi, this bright red and yellow monster was one of the first on the scene, separating itself from the pack by its highly consistent location next to the Nicollet Lightrail stop. Its popularity easily apparent, the owners have now branched out to create a World Street Kitchen restaurant located between 27th and 28th on Lyndale.

World_Street_Kitchen_3

            WSK the Truck offers an often-changing menu focusing around blends and combinations of Pan-Asian, North-Asian, Middle-Eastern, and other such flavors and techniques found SouthEast of Russia (oh if only they did vodka shots and borscht…). As such, one will quite often find a few Vegetaria. The one constant is their “YumYum Rice Bowl”, with vegetarian or meat options, short ribs if you’re lucky.

            This last summer I finally had the chance to try the bowl (it’s a higher priced item, so it was never my first choice); I have to admit it is very deserving of the name. Flavorful sauces, meat you want to keep shoveling into your mouth, tasty toasty peanuts and crisp garnishes. The rice is cooked RIGHT and flavorful, as it should be. If you have the extra couple dollars to shell out, it’s worth it.

            The fact is, I’ve been here a few times, which is pretty remarkable in its own right. This truck acts as a great international cuisine staple. Not to mention, it sells the Mexican-made Coke in a Glass Bottle, made with actual sugar; that’s reason enough to stop by.

Food: 9

         As expected from the creators of one of Minneapolis’ highest quality Indian/Middle Eastern restaurants, the quality of the ingredients and food made is fantastic. The Pulled Lamb Panini I got there on my first visit was perfectly crisp, rich, somewhat gooey and flavorful with the spices. As I said, the YumYum Bowl lives up to its name, as did this Hash I had there at one point. Generally speaking, they are worth money spent.

wsk1

        It can vary though. At one point I had a Chicken Curry Bahn Mi, and though it was still good, it wasn’t really at the level of a true good curry nor other Food Truck bahn mi’s, though the bread and toppings were still crisp and fresh.

Holdability: 6

         They offer a few sandwhiches/bahn mi’s now and then which are pretty easy to walk around with. Their main staples, on the other hand, such as the Bowls and Salads, do require sitting down with fork or chopstick. One can still eat while walking if they have two free hands, but really you want to sit down.

Price: 8

         Prices are certainly worth the offerings, but they’re still a touch higher. They probably suit the restaurant a bit more than the food truck, but as a restaurant price they’re a really good deal.

Speed: 8.5

         With their few years spent in the business, and many more in restaurant, they’ve fine-tuned and got the hang of getting orders out. Food is taken outside the truck, you’re given a slip, and the guys in the top call out the various numbers as they come up. It is not that long of a wait to come up, even with a long line.

The TOE: 8.5

          The whole idea of a “World Street Kitchen” really gives one the feeling this is a truck that roams around the nation and delivers good food wherever they settle down (to tell the truth, I sorta thought that myself, didn’t realize they were pure Minnesota until recently). That is a GREAT feeling to have when you visit a Truck, because it’s usually built not by design or name but by the experience and skill of those who run it. That’s the true indication that you’ve just found something special.

               Tally: 40/50

Final Thoughts

          When you’re on the street, get a sandwich; they’re usually better priced, easy to eat with one hand, and VERY tasty and satisfying. Get a Coke while you’re at it, they’re pretty darn good.

         If you want the Bowl or something else, try and head down to the new restaurant. You can sit down, be a little more open about spending money, and there’s a larger variety offered than on the actual truck, so you might just find something even better.