Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mobile Chowdown, street food on the street

Just weeks after the first Mobile Food Rodeo, the annually recurring Original Mobile Chowdown was held in Seattle last weekend.  Of course, I was there....

The downside of any food truck gathering is the lines.  Food trucks are just not designed to serve too many people too quickly.  This event was free and had a massive attendance.  Unfortunately that meant that the lines were much longer than the recent Rodeo.  Well, I should say the lines were more consistently longer.  Some of them were not actually any longer.  I should also say that unfortunate-ness is in the eye of the beholder.  I am sure that nearby bricks and mortar businesses benefited greatly from the long lines as people abandoned the trucks in search of other, quicker food options.  Husky Deli, located in the middle of the festival also had a line.  When we walked by Cupcake Royale on the way out, they had completely sold out of cupcakes.

But meanwhile, back at the Chowdown, the lines did hinder some of the enjoyment.  I heard two women behind me in line planning to knock over some children and steal their food.  I think they were kidding.  My poor partner stood in line at Curry Now for most of the time we were at the festival - more than one hour.  Luckily, I was able to hit a Kaosamai Thai with a very short line and bring back provisions.  Also unfortunately, Kaosamai and most of the food trucks were running out of most of their menu items a little over halfway through the festival.  I wanted to get there earlier because I knew this was a possibility, but I could not.   If you saw a place with short lines, that usually meant that they were out of most of their menu.  Skillet and a few other places closed early, as they ran out of food.

Now to the food.  I got Chicken Curry Tostadas from Kaosamai.  I am a sucker for some fusion food of any kind.  They only had a few items left to choose from, and these seemed like they would be easier to eat than Ginger Chicken.  They were a little weird.  It was like a curried chicken salad on a corn tostada shell with a little iceberg lettuce and tomato on the top.  The weird part was that the curry tasted more Indian than Thai.  Seemed like they made chicken salad and put some curry powder in it.  That said, it was tasty.  I enjoyed it, but I expected a little more.

I next went to Charlie's Buns and Stuff, mostly because there was no line.  They mostly had burgers, and some of the best sounding stuff was sold out.  The line grew as I tried to make a decision.  I was not in the mood for a burger, but decided to give the Fried Chicken Slider with Sweet Chile Sauce a try.  By the time I got to the front of the line, they were sold out.  Ugh!

Our friend Matt brought back to the line a half barbeque chicken and half barbeque pork sandwich from Raney Brothers Barbeque.  If you have read my post about Georgetown, you know that I am a hard-to-please barbeque snob.  So, take this with a grain of salt.  The sandwiches were good, but not mind-blowing.  They were respectable.

Next I decided to brave the lines at Fusion on the Run.  See a pattern? Some trucks have a long line and get the orders out quickly once they are places.  Others, like this one, have a relatively short line, but then you I to wait a while once you ordered.  They specialized in Banh Mi, but I did not see how that was fusion.  Seemed like a pretty traditional Vietnamese dish to me.  Plus, I noticed that they were served on soft rolls, instead of the traditional baquette.  That did not seem too appealing, so I ordered tacos.  I tried the coconut ginger chicken and KV Fusion, or short ribs with onion, daikon, and carrot.  They were both good, but not awesome.  They did not quite seem worth the wait.  The chicken was flavorful and played off of the slaw well.  The short rib seemed like just little strips of beef, but it went well with the vegetables.  Both meats were a little overcooked.  I would eat here again.  Maybe when they are not overwhelmed, stuff would be a little more carefully prepared.

Greg got his food from Curry Now about the same time that I got mine.  He opted for the combo plate.  It was a decent deal at $10, featuring the curry salmon taco with a plated chicken dish and another potato dish.  All were good, but again, not exceptional.  The salmon taco just did not have the incredible flavor that it did last time.  This was truly disappointing, as the only reason he spent all that time waiting in line was because this dish was so amazing before.  I think consistency is the biggest challenge in selling food.

After that, we gave up.  Many places were running out of everything or even closing early.  The other places still had lines.  I must say that this event was more professionally run than the Rodeo, and I love that it was free.  It does seem that if these trucks are making all this money for the day, they should cover the costs.  I liked the location on a city street.  I don't know of anything that can be done about the lines.  We did avoid some places we had already tried, but we just did not get the foodgasms that we had in the past.

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