Sayo Foods and Co.

SAMSUNG

http://sayofoods.com/foodtruck.html   

https://twitter.com/sayofoods   

Main Location: Minneapolis, Etc

            It’s been over a year since I’ve last spotted, let alone heard from, Sayo Foods and Co. In fact, my very first (and at the time only) visit was during the premier of our now-annual Food Truck Fair in the summer of 2012. Since that time, the vibrant green truck seemed to have fallen off the map; I was recently just wondering if they had simply stopped, or possibly were taking residence in areas much outside my normal routes of travel and research.

            Then what do I see this Monday on my way to class, with no plans or expectations for mobile eating, but a distinguishingly different pattern in the typical ménage of the Truck Side Quilt. With most of a year of delay from giving birth and figuring out career path, the owner of Sayo has now returned to the streets!

SAMSUNG

            Though notable changes have taken place since the long delay, the main staples still revolve around Filipino cuisine. This mainly takes the form of Pulled Pork Asado and Pulled Chicken Adobo items, either sandwiches or, as seen a year ago, Tacos. Though one is quite likely to see other “influences,” such as various Latin items, Greek Gyros, even a Philly, and who knows what else. One major, and somewhat disappointing change, is their disclusion of the “side items;” my first experience seeing a trio of fried calamari, crab balls, and eggrolls. Though the Eggrolls have plans to come back, other cuts have been made; though what other additions and separations are to be made from here are a mystery.

            But for now, here’s wishing them luck in a new, full year in business on the Street!

SAMSUNG

 

Food: 8

             A year ago, I grabbed an order of the Pulled Chicken Adobo Tacos and one of those baskets of Crab Balls; however, despite my desire to attempt to relate them to you, I find the noted time difference and change in menu a little worrisome to review… not to mention they’re no longer there. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to settle for a delicious Pulled Pork (Asado) Sandwich.

             Piled on another one of the overly-popular pretzel buns, which from what I could tell did not get ANY toasting or criping up, sadly. The pork itself has quickly shot up to one of my favorites in its moisture retention and flavor, somewhat near where Racer’s Pork is at. Unlike others, which tend to suffer from the odd phenomenon of a “dry-ish” texture after all the pulling and piling together, Sayo’s meat shows little to no effect to give a nice sandwich base.

             Though of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t still top it with loads of sauce. And they do have quite the selection, seen here:

SAMSUNG

             From Left to Right: a simple, tangy BBQ sauce (I think they make it, but it tastes commercial… either way); … ketchup; what looks to be a very dangerous bottle of extra-spicy chili oil, or sauce, or whatever… either way, I suggest you run far away from it; Sirachi; homemade Phillipine Chili sauce; and mustard.   Definitely don’t need much to moisten and flavor up this fella, though I won’t stop you… definitely have to use that Chili sauce, because it is GOOD! Tangy and kitsy (another fake word, yes, but I don’t know what word to use to describe this) and rich, maybe zesty… mmm, get that and some of the BBQ on, found yourself an interesting new version of the Pulled Pork (or Chicken, I’m sure they’re both good).

Holdability: 6.5

            May depend on item, but I’d deposit to say that most sandwiches (the mains) will really need both hands to hold, thus sitting down; particularly the pulled meats. Though future Eggrolls, possible re-appearing Tacos, and current Gyro are likely to not be such an issue.

Price: 8

             All $8! Though I do remember the Tacos were originally offered as less than the sandwiches, so if they return it may be a better deal. Plus I doubt the eggrolls will cost so much, haha.

SAMSUNG

Speed: 8

             About average, touch faster with the simple items

The TOE: 6

             Well, they’re still developing, can still sort of see that; I never felt too “excited” with either of my visits. The menu is small, despite advertising in the Filipino concept they carry items that clearly shouldn’t be joining the others, but they’re still there… it still holds the feel of a beginning “catering truck” vs a full-fledged Food Truck.

SAMSUNG

                         Tally: 36.5/50

                       

Final Thoughts

             I think I would suggest waiting a bit to let them develop and get back into the groove, readjust menu, all that before one actually visits.

             That said, once visiting, I would certainly go for anything of the Pulled Pork/Chicken Variety; the sandwiches are wholesome, though if they ever bring back Tacos or similar, they’re a more affordable option. Once on the menu, should definitely try the Eggrolls, especially as a small snack for sampling or on Food Truck Days.

            Oh, and I would probably ignore the Gyro, Philly, and other similarly odd-placed items; I’m sure they’re good, but as I’ve stated before I rarely ever suggest a Philly outside of the source, and I’ve found Gyros so difficult to fully differentiate in quality outside minor factors, so might as well get them from a place one knows does them properly and right.

Starlight Diner

SAMSUNG

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Starlight-Diner/341864602591955?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/Starlighteats   

Main Location: Minneapolis, Events

            Nostalgia has very much proven a key factor to many of the greatest restaurants, mobile or non. Being able to take us back to that experience we could supposedly only find 20, 30, or how many years ago. Though most of our Trucks focus on Regional Styles, Diet, Specialty Items, or whatever, we are still able to see operations like Neato’s and Bloomy’s follow in the old-school and bring to us something typical of a tiny, hard-to-find corner off the highway.

             Moving onto the streets early this season, Starlight Diner continues this idea, bringing us back to the den of the “Blue Plate Special.” (one almost expects a plate of Turkey and Mashed Potatoes come November) Offering up baskets up Fries, Onion Rings, and old-fashioned Mayo-based Potato Salad, one can grab themselves a Hot Dog (topped with sauerkraut), Pulled Pork, or Italian Beef on a regular day, and items such as Tuna Sandwich turned Open Face on specials. Served in the traditional checkered-paper baskets, one almost expects to see them out with Turkey and Mashed Potatoes come November.

SAMSUNG

             Of course, it’s not a Food Truck without offering a few plays on the expected (as seen with the open-faced tuna). Beer Battered Asparagus seem a customer favorite, paired with Rhubarb Ketchup and Bearnaise for dipping. In response to the warm summer weather, Cold Soups (like Watermelon Gazpacho) have made a come-in as replacement for the expected tomato (now if only they got a saffron-infused cheese crostini to pair with).

SAMSUNG

            Serving underneath the classic frilled awning, their heads covered in the familiar paper hats, it’s quick to see their ties to the diners of decades past. If one has yet to find their own, special little 50’s (or 60’s, or 40’s, or whatever) based hole-in-the-wall, Starlight Diner is a great place to start!

 

Food: 8

              Pulled Pork seems to be the specialty, so I definitely had to grab that along with a nice batch of potato salad (and a side of that interesting Rhubarb-Ketchup). Let me just say, as far as Truck-based pulled pork goes, it definitely acts as a standout.

SAMSUNG

              Serving on a longer Italian bun vs the traditional round/burger, this well-toasted (REALLY well toasted; heck, it’s actually a touch over, but with the smoked pork that’s actually good) bread is topped with a tender, flavorful smoked n shredded pig. The taste of the smoke indeed comes through slightly, with actual pork that contains some flavor in itself (much like Racer’s). Topped with a few pickled red onions, and this baby is ready for bbq sauce; which of course must be applied by ourselves. It would have been nice if they at least mixed in a LITTLE bbq sauce on their own beforehand; I definitely understand leaving it to personal taste, but though there is some nice tenderness and juiciness in the product, eating as-is without any sauce mixed in still creates a slight feeling of dry-ness and heaviness just a bit off from perfection. Suffice it to say, when loading up with the Sauce, LOAD it up; its flavor needs to come through the giant mound of pig, and it could use the extra moisture.

SAMSUNG

              A special throw-out to that Potato Salad! One of the best joys I find is in those items that, in the everyday scenario, one just doesn’t really like (not hate, but just don’t like), and then finding someone who does it properly. This concept is so epitomized with their potato salad, based purely around that cheap, yellow-mayo based style we all see at the deli counter and only dare to get for company picnics. But made right, with the big cold chunks of boiled and roughly-broken, starchy potato, folded with the thick and creamy mustard-mayo and dotted with halves of briny-rich black olives; this is the potato salad we all wish we grew up on.

            And finally, of the things I sampled, the Rhubarb-Ketchup. I LOVE homemade ketchups, and this is no exception. Ultimately, it sort of tasted like a cross between Ketchup and a Spiced Berry Pie filling (in a good way).

              As for the sides which I was able to view: fries seem a definite improvement than when I first visited. Though not likely to be in a hall of greats, they look to be cooked well enough, and though soft are sure to have nice flavor and richness. Onion rings are in that similar mediocre category; the crust seems to have potential, but with bits of direct-contact-fried onion sticking out here and there, one certainly thinks technique needs improvement. On the contrary, the Beer-Battered Asparagus has seen, and looks fit for, much positive reception.

SAMSUNG

Holdability: 8.5

                Offering various basket-based items which invariably require two hands, their sauerkraut-topped bratwurst even spilling off the side a bit. Pulled Pork is somewhat on the edge between walkable and “ehhhh, might enjoy it some more sitting down,” but not too much so. One thing of note that I VERY much like, when ordering just a sandwich or just a side, one receives in their own small basket to walk around with. If one orders TWO things, however, they are invariably placed within a larger blue-checkered basket to enjoy at one’s pleasure. Of course, many “styrafoam-box” places do this automatically, but that’s mainly cuz they’re already using a giant box anyways, even for smaller things. Basket-based trucks are rarely seen with separate combos and singles, nor having variously sized containers depending.

Price: 6.5

             A wide range settling from $3-$7 (w/ $8 “entrée-size” Salad and certain $1-2 options), this menu offers a seeming dream for the price-conscious customer. $7 stays the main for sandwich items, while (currently) offering some cold soup/s at $3 (and $2 possibly… still unsure if Chili Mango is a soup or a sauce…). With a menu range like this, one might expect a score of 9 or, even more likely, 10 out of my general ratings scale; even I want to give them that! However, what stands out to me more than the lower prices are certain “annoyances” and “inconsistancies” I found in comparison to their food.

             When looking at fries and onion rings, $3 and $4 don’t seem like too outrageous of costs, even with Rings that look like this:

SAMSUNG

             I’ve seen other places charge around this much, so it’s only a minor thing. However, the potato salad, that glob consisting of only cold potato, mayonnaise, and black olives, of which I was only given a couple SPOONFULS… that is NOT proper $4 menu pricing. And now we look a little higher, at the $6 cost of Beer Battered Asparagus: that’s a basket of ASPARAGUS, fried, for the cost of an lower Food Truck entrée. Oh, but of course, it DOES come with two little sides of special sauce… that must be the extra $2 from its proper cost. Which seems to make the most sense, as they decided to charge me an extra $1 when I asked for the Rhubarb-Ketchup; that’s right, a whole dollar for that dinky little paper thumbnail. Anchor Fish and Chips charges half that for 3-4X the amount of Tartar sauce, and THAT is unacceptable. This is a condiment, people, not a side; on that note, similarly charging $1 for Pickles? Now, if it’s a pickle “Plate,” I can see; but so many other trucks offer their homemade pickles on the side for ready use and enjoyment by us customers. With that clearly leading example, we should not be having any Truck that performs anything of the contrary nowadays.

             On a final note, in Menu terms, I’m also very glad they started labeling their Dog as “German” as opposed to the “Handmade” they displayed in the opening week/s. If not, I would have definitely taken points off for the obvious mis-appropriation for a dog that was supplied by someone else (even if it’s of high quality).

SAMSUNG

Speed: 7.5

              Average wait.

The TOE: 7

               Nostalgic nature says for a lot, its definitely hard not to think of the old-school sandwich-slinging, potato salad bucket diners when one visits. However, I feel this may be the only thing they have going for them when it comes to the “experience” aspect. For instance, though I highly dislike using this as a negative aspect, I can’t help but feel the plain and boring color design immediately sets one’s idea a little lower (like walking into a bad bathroom). The menu, though good, is still somewhat plain and unexciting in its actual items (before ordering). Ultimately, I think one could equate that, though the nostalgia is there, the actual personality required to back it up still needs work. 

Service: -1

             Yeah, remember the whole Condiment and Pickles thing? I’m still annoyed about that. This is a very basic, very fundamental Service Concept, seen very much so in restaurants and ESPECIALLY in Food Trucks. If there were other trucks doing this, that would be one thing; but simply put, there aren’t. Both Housemade Pickles and Sauces are on display and made available to squirt and top as we please, with no cost seen besides what we’ve already paid for our food.

                There’s a particular term in the Service industry; “Give them the Pickle.” It was developed from situations like this.

                         Tally: 36.5/50

                       

Final Thoughts

            For those craving a bit of nostalgic in their Trucks, or just looking for a nice pork Sammy at a good price, this is the place to go. I think I can ultimately say, too, in the question of “What Truck should I get a Pulled Pork sandwich from,” this is the one I suggest. Not necessarily because it’s the best (that’s still in debate… VERY much in debate), but because I find it one of, if not the, most “Distinctive” and interesting of the group.

            I do not see much merit in getting any of their sides; again not due to their quality, but the price charged for them. One can find similar or better fries anywhere, and $4 is too much for that small amount of Potato Salad (which really sucks, because on any given day I would be BEGGING people to get this because of how good it is). And of course, don’t ask for any of the special sauces no matter how good they are, not unless you’re willing to argue over the price (I actually would have myself if there wasn’t a line behind me and I was caught off guard with its ridiculousness).

            My 2nd and Final main suggestion, this is probably one of the better places to visit on a HOT day. Grab a bowl of cheap, cold Watermelon-Gazpacho and enjoy and refreshing lunch!

SFC: Late Night Comfort Food

SAMSUNG

               Dinner for the night was my Mom’s “Chicken Noodle and Dumpling Soup” (yes, noodles AND dumplings… we like our starch), paired as always with a nice loaf of package-mix baked bread. This night’s was one of my favorites, Beer Bread, made with one of my own Doppelbocks. Sorta ended up tasting like that strong malt smell of actually making with wort…

SAMSUNG

                As with every dinner of hers, the amount of leftovers was noticeably high; not that I’m complaining of course. It always makes for some of the better breakfasts and lunches.

                Some of the best Street Foods are based off of home comforts such as this; either made as-is or twisted to better fit our hand. This thought gave me some inspiration late at night as I received that familiar craving for a little before-bed snack. With another almost-whole [small] loaf of Beer Bread and a giant vat of Dumpling Soup, I set out to make my own Street Food-like snacks.

                Still have yet to actually get to trying something with the dumplings (couldn’t find the darn recipe, plus I’m quite busy with studies as-is), so for now I settle on a nice, toasty beer bread sammich. Like I mentioned, ours came from a box, but it’s a really easy thing to make at home! Here’s a very simple recipe:

http://www.food.com/recipe/beer-bread-73440

                The great thing about this is one can use ANY kind of beer, soda, cider, or other Carbonated Beverage you want. Makes for some fun varieties and experimentation, as well as pairing possibilities.

                Had to think a bit about what I wanted to fill my little loaf with, but luckily for me I still had some Country-Style Pork Ribs (really thick) I recently used in my first Forray into Minion-style Smoking (See Patrons of the Pit for further reading into BBQ and Smoking). That figured out, had to look into toppings; if I had my choice, I’d immediately get some nice coleslaw or crispy, thin pickled vegetables, maybe even cilantro n jalepeno for a Bahn-Mi riff. Sadly that wasn’t the choice, but it’s not to say my options were horrible. A really thin slice of celery, some of this soft, pickled garlic we got from the neighbor, and a bit of the celery leaves in place of herbs, and I’ve got the making of something rich, smokey, crispy bright, and tart pungency from the garlic.

SAMSUNG

                With that, all I need is to manipulate my bread to make a sandwich. Since I want to spread some butter on the top n bottom and crisp it in a pan, I slice off the uneven top, square it off for a small little thing. If I had a whole loaf, and a big appetite, I might slice the entire top and make a small hoagie-like thing.

SAMSUNG

                Before we get to filling, a little word on slicing for the sandwich. Not a lot of people actually think about it, but what’s the proper ratio of thickness between the top and bottom slice of bread? We’re mostly used to, and quite accepting, of the basic “Same size, same thickness” idea, and if there is any difference (like in hamburger buns), it looks like the top is bigger. However, if one really wants to make the perfect sandwich, and are able to cut the bread for it, one should slice the bread at a Bottom/Top percentage of 60/40%, thus making the bottom piece slightly bigger.

                There are, arguably, two main reasons for this. In a construction sense, the bottom slice is what acts as the foundation, keeping all the ingredients on, with the top and one’s fingers simply acting as stability. As such, it logically comes that it should have more “structure” to it. The real reason, though, comes down to Anatomy. Our jaw, the lower row of teeth, is much stronger than the upper row of teeth, due to the actual muscle constantly working it up and down. As such, it can cut through food much easier than its weaker upper half.

                Some may still be wondering how this really matters; I admit, simple 50-50 sandwiches still taste fantastic. When you have the chance, though, try this: take two small, unsliced buns. For one, cut it where the bottom slice is noticeably smaller than the top, and the other do as I’ve already stated. Make a simple sandwich (make sure filling ratio matches buns) and try a bite of each. When applied, one can easily see this little lesson in biology can create a marvelous balance of texture and bite when eating.

SAMSUNG

                Well, that said, slicing just enough to leave a small edge connecting the top and bottom, I finally moved on to actually finishing my sandwich. Spreading some mayo and bbq sauce on the bottom for dressing, then topping with the Meat and Veg. Now that I think about it, sorta looks like it’d be a good Stoner Snack between meals…

SAMSUNG

                Fillings of course can vary, so can bread; heck, I probably could have sliced up some of those dumplings and put them between with a bit of the soup’s chicken, a little of the starchy broth to soak in, and some celery and parsley for starch and aroma. Woulda been a nice way to completely transvert the dinner into a Street Food twist-off.

                But for now, I still have yet to get to doing something with those dumplings. Maybe I’ll make a sandwich out of them, or maybe fill with something and skewer like Japanese Dango. I’ll post something once I figure it out.

 

For now, what’s some of your favorite things to do for Late Night Snacks? Any favorite Dishes made from Traditional Family Leftovers?