Monday, October 20, 2014

Food Trucks: Off the Grid

Off the Grid - dinner on October 8, 2014
I mentioned in a previous post that I am not a regular patron of food trucks, mostly because they don't really cross my path when I'm contemplating places to go for dinner. I decided to change that when I heard about Off the Grid which comes every Wednesday night to the Menlo Park Caltrain station. Since it was near enough to work to enable me to get there in half an hour (thanks, commute traffic) and my friend Jenny could catch Caltrain on her way home from work and just take a detour in Menlo Park, we decided to meet up one Wednesday to check it out.
There was a fleet of about a dozen or so food trucks when I arrived. One area was set aside for tables and chairs where people could sit and there was even someone singing to entertain people while they dined. There were a ton of kids so I assume this was a popular weekly eating spot for families.
It was fun to poke around and check out the offerings of the different food trucks. I had a heck of a time deciding between the lobster roll from the Lobsta truck, chicken tikka masala open-faced on garlic naan from the Indian food truck, lemongrass pork with garlic noodles from the Vietnamese truck, or chicken and waffles from the Waffle Amore truck. Talk about your first world problems, right?

The BBQ Brisket truck Jenny got her dinner from
In the end, I went with the lemongrass grilled pork and garlic noodles from the Vietnamese food truck. Most of the offerings from all of the food trucks were in the $10-$12 price points, some a little more, some a little less. Mine came to $11 which I thought was reasonable for a dinner I had to eat perched on a parking lot curb. Hey, it's all an adventure. If I was more budget conscious, I could've gotten away with a $5-6 dinner and gone all protein or all carbs with one or the other instead of both.
The dish was tasty but I have to admit, a bit too salty for me. I do have bland taste buds though so others might find it better than I did. The portions were pretty generous so I couldn't finish the whole thing, especially because of the salt factor.
Lemongrass Pork and Garlic Noodles
To counter the salt, of course, I had to get some sugar. Since I skipped the chicken and waffles from Waffle Amore in favor of the pork and garlic noodles, I had an excuse to go back to the waffle truck and try out one of their waffles for dessert. In a stroke of luck, we approached the waffle truck at 7:30 which turned out to be when they start making their liege waffles available for ordering. Liege waffles have a caramelized outside and they're just plain delicious. The Sweet Tooth Fairy was looking out for me in getting me in front of that waffle truck at the right time. Each waffle was $5 and comes with 1 free topping. Additional toppings are $1 each. I lived high and went with the nutella and banana atop a liege waffle.
At first Jenny and I were going to split a waffle because we were both full from our respective dinners but after seeing a person ahead of us get their order, we decided the waffles weren't that big so we each got our own. Hence why Jenny and I are good friends. She went with a Woman's Best Friend waffle (truly, that was the name of the waffle) that had fresh strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce drizzled on top.
Liege waffle topped with nutella and banana
My waffle was delicious and you can't go wrong with a banana-nutella combo. If I were making this at home, the only thing I would do differently would be to caramelize the bananas first in brown sugar and butter but my taste buds are decadent like that. Having fresh bananas on top of the liege waffle almost made me feel virtuous but even I can't lie to myself that much. The portion was the right size if you're not too full from dinner. I was but I'm conveniently ignoring that since I ate my entire waffle.
"Woman's Best Friend" waffle - with strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce
It was a fun experience and Jenny and I both agreed we'd go back again to try the other food trucks. Some of them had long lines at the time we went which made us want to try them even more next time so we could see what made them so popular. I wouldn't call any of it gourmet food but still, it's a nice casual way to dine and support some local small businesses at the same time.

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