Wednesday, September 17, 2014

BeanFish is Mobile!


The Truck
If you know me, then you know for over a year, I have been visiting BeanFish at Fremont Sunday Market and special events around the Seattle area. I love their taiyaki - both sweet and savory! When I heard months ago that BeanFish would be mobile in 2014, my heart skipped a beat. I can have taiyaki just a short walk from my office in the business district? Brilliant!

On Tuesday, September 17th, BeanFish opened up at 2nd & Pike. I took a few friends to meet them. Along the way, I found folks who hadn't heard of or tried taiyaki. Well, I'm a believer so I set out to convince them.

Made a new friend - first time trying taiyaki
I was super excited to be part of opening day! I got there a bit before the lunch rush (as always) and grabbed a few - one, two, and three taiyaki to go. What's nice about them is that they've been making this product for a year. I've watched it evolve over time. I truly appreciate the fact that they continue to push themselves to elevate flavors and perfect their craft.

Custard taiyaki complete with lipstick
The truck will be at 2nd & Pike again tomorrow (Sept. 18th). Who knows, we may run into each other there. For updates on where to find the truck, follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Recap - 2014 Seattle Night Market

2014 Seattle Night Market

I've been going to the Night Market for years. Last year, the amount of food trucks increased. The event has evolved over the years. In 2012, I remember 4 trucks being there. The great thing about the event is that it benefits tons of businesses in the International District. It's also nice to be able to have a HUGE variety of trucks in one place. Aside from food trucks, there are a lot of other food and craft vendors.


From my perspective, comparing this night market to others worldwide is not a useful exercise. If that is your goal in coming to this event, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. It's like comparing Mardi Gras to the celebration in New Orleans - it's simply no comparison. This night market, as others globally, is a reflection of the community.

My recommendation for this event, is to arrive early. I know, I know, I always say that. This is really one event where it's important if you don't enjoy crowds. If you love crowds (literally being unable to move around without touching a stranger) then this is the place for you. If you can't get there early, try to research the food ahead of time so you can make decisions about which lines you want to stand in or come with a group to divide and conquer. Getting around will be very difficult about an hour into the event until the end. This is because the food is restricted to one street - 5th Avenue South. If you have a good idea about what you want to eat, you'll be free to explore the rest of the market - breakdancing, carnival, putt putt golf, etc. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was late. That meant I didn't have a clear idea of what the $5 dishes were or or have a chance to see if trucks were running their full menus versus event menus. That was my bad. I spent a lot of time near the mainstage and it was fun as always. Something about being around loud music, happy dancing, and getting my beat on that makes me smile.

My newest dumpling

My favorite purchase of the night was a stuffed dumpling. I'm a kid at heart and many items take me back to my childhood. I'm (slightly) embarrassed to say that I fell asleep cuddling it Saturday night.

Hallava Falafel
Fried Brussels Sprouts

In terms of food, I hit up Hallava Falafel since I heard they had fantastic brussels sprouts. They did not disappoint. The brussels sprouts were portioned well - what I mean by that is some were cut in half and some were whole, making for uniform sizing throughout the dish. Additionally, they were seasoned well. Lack of seasoning is where I believe half of all brussels sprouts fail. I was loving the seasoning! Next, brussels sprouts need to be fried crisp. There's nothing more disappointing than soggy little bits of veggies that have reincorporated oil. These were crisp and stood up well against oil and the sauce. Overall, I loved it! Topped it off with a Vimto (one of my faves) and all was well with the world.

Fish Basket
Lobster Roll (picture taken on 8/31/14)

Next on my list was Fish Basket. It was only a few weeks ago that I got to try their lobster roll for the first time. It's quickly become one of my favorites. Nice, toasted bread stands up well to the lobster mix. Large, hearty chunks of lobster is everything I dreamed of and more! I've had challenges finding a good lobster roll in Seattle. Typically, I find people who use more filler than lobster. That is absolutely not the case here. Rest assured, you ordered lobster and you're getting lobster as the STAR of the show! Simply having good seafood is not enough. You have to understand balancing flavors that are complimentary. When you taste this sandwich, there will be no doubt that it has been thoughtfully crafted to give you a memorable experience. Fish Basket has elevated their food to challenge your conceptions of what a food truck is compared to a restaurant. If you can find a better lobster roll for a mere $15, you should buy it. And, let me know where that is because I don't think it exists in Seattle.

Hawaii's Donut
Cream filled donut

As a native of Hawaii, anytime I hear of someplace making anything remotely like a malasada, I'm there. Hawaii's Donut is one such place. Often, places in Seattle tend to make malasadas that are more reminiscent of Okinawan donuts. I'm from an island that makes arguably the best (some say it is 2nd best) malasadas in Hawaii. I'm not a fan of mixing up the two. Hawaii's Donut makes more of what I would call a malasada. However, I saw the "dough" they were frying. From my perspective, they do not make their own dough but instead, use refrigerated, pre-made, purchased dough. Now, there's nothing necessarily wrong with that as I've been using the same trick for years. FYI...making malasadas from scratch is a pain and anything using yeast automatically drops to the bottom of my cooking list. I like the donuts here. However, I believe the price point of $15/dozen is not appropriate. If you would like to know how to make these at home, just let me know.

I also stopped by Full Tilt's truck. I've gone to it a few times but this time, they had my favorite - ube! If you haven't had ube ice cream, I highly recommend it. Don't let the purple color turn you off. It has a flavor that reminds me of vanilla but with a twist. It was a nice way to cool off on a warm summer night.

Contigo

With all the dancing going on, I had to get another drink. Luckily, Contigo was on hand with my favorite habanero lemonade! This is something I could drink every day! Sweet, spicy, and cold - that's my jam. I like that they use habanero since jalapeno is a bit overdone nowadays. I must say, I was tempted to get the mushroom crema tacos (they're my current fave) but I was so full I didn't think I'd be able to enjoy it properly. Suffice to say, I'm a meat eater and I LOVE this taco! The flavors are top notch. Each time I get a variety of tacos, I find myself wishing that I had gotten a bunch of mushroom ones.

Dance party on the mainstage

There were tons of other food options at the market and I didn't get to most of them. Lucky for me, most are accessible one way or another in Seattle. For some of the vendors, there are restaurants in the International District and around the Puget Sound area. For some of the trucks, they offer both daily routes as well as catering and some of them have restaurants. If you're fascinated by food trucks, consider supporting them all year round. Check them out for lunch one day or do a tasting for a special event such as a wedding. Also, many trucks can be found at farmers markets weekly as well as other community events. If you need help finding trucks check out SeattleFoodTruck.com. For more information on large food truck events, see Mobile Food Rodeo or Seattle Street Food Festival. You can also get a preview of yummy food truck cuisine from my Flickr page, which is also featured on SeattleFoodTruck.com's phone app.

See you next time I get my food truckery on!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mobile Food Fight For Hunger

Each year, I head to Mobile Food Fight For Hunger. I really enjoy this event and even won a Twitter contest once! This year, the event will be held on Sunday, August 31st from 11am-4pm at the World Concern headquarters

The Trucks - Although the truck line-up has changed a bit, it's nice to see a number of core trucks that have been attending over the years. There are 10 trucks that offer a balanced set of offerings. World Concern’s website currently lists the following trucks that will be attending:

The Cause - Eating at a truck is always a good reason to attend an event. However, another great reason is that 10% of all proceeds from the event will help fight hunger through World Concern's sustainable agricultural programs, creating lasting solutions in Africa, Asia, and Haiti. I personally like this model since it empowers communities to sustain themselves as opposed to short-term solutions. 

The Logistics - Parking has always been easy for me. If you need some tips, World Concern has a map for your convenience. The trucks are spread out nicely; even though there are lines from time to time, they're not terribly long compared to Seattle events. You can find tons of places to sit: grass, curbs, benches, tables, etc. If the weather isn't cooperative, they may have tents as they have in the past. 

The Vibe - Staff members are very friendly, helpful, and fun! Each year, I end up talking to folks and having a great time chatting. They have a number of contests onsite and a few activities for the kids. They also have music playing from time to time, which creates a festive mood. A great event for families, foodies, and folks looking to try a few food trucks. 

The most important question: What should you eat? Well, I'm thinking I may post a few of my faves before the event. In the meantime, check out World Concern's photos from last year on Facebook

Find me on Twitter for updates before and during the event. I'll also likely be posting on Instagram that day as well. And, as always, foodtruckery photos can always be found on my Flickr page. 



Monday, August 11, 2014

Recap - Seattle Street Food Festival 2014

Oh, it's been awhile since I've consumed so much food (at least a few weeks). I decided to head over to the Seattle Street Food Festival. Held at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill, it's the perfect setting for a food festival.



I like the balance between food trucks, street vendors, and craft vendors. The food trucks and street vendors were on the street and craft vendors were on the turf in the park. The benefit of a two day festival is that it never gets "too" crowded. Don't get me wrong, there were lots of people but having a two day option gives folks the option to choose one day or both. Additionally, being at Cal Anderson is literally brilliant. People can sit down basically anywhere to eat their food whether they like sun or shade, grass or concrete, curbs or hills. If folks get tired of walking around, they can dip their feet in the wading pool or head over to check out some crafts.


Hungry foodies enjoy sitting in a patch of shade at Cal Anderson
Although the event is always free, the Very Important Foodie (VIF) Pass is available to purchase for those who are impatient. Standing in line is not a big deal if you're going to eat at a few spots. Because I eat at so many places, time can add up. I'm happy to pay a few dollars for a VIF Pass which comes with some swag, freebies, and access to the VIF lounge.



Aside from my recap of the festival, I'm sure a bunch of you are interested in the food. Before we get to that, I have to say that I'm really into beverages right now. I started off with cherry calamansi lemonade from People of the Chubbs. It was cool, refreshing and had a bit of tart tang to balance the sweetness. They had a somewhat limited, pricey menu so I didn't order anything to eat. My next drink was Vietnamese coffee from Lemongrass. I drink tons of this stuff but what I loved was how strong it was! It was bold and creamy from the condensed milk and if I weren't lactose intolerant, I would have drank it all day! I followed all that up with one of my faves, lavender cucumber lemonade from Papa Bois. This has quickly become one of my favorite drinks. It was a bit mild that day but still very freshing! 



Charlie's Buns n' Stuff. I opened with an order of sweet potato tater tots. This is the perfect dish to share and it comes with your choice of sauce. It reminds me of a tater tot but has a sweet, hearty center filled with sweet potato. 



Ezell's. The chicken strip basket is where it's at. With crispy, well-seasoned strips, this is a great way to indulge in fried chicken without feeling the guilt. Again, pick your favorite sauce and chow these down with a basket of fries. This is the perfect walking and sharing food! 



Two Shoe BBQ. The brisket sandwich is full of tender, saucy meat! It's messy and yummy! It doesn't travel well and I don't recommend sharing unless you have TONS of napkins and/or wipes. The sandwich was filling and well worth the cost of the plate (which comes with two sides). 



BeanFish. Wow! Having eaten at BeanFish for a year, they continue to up their game! The taiyaki gets better and better both with flavors and technique. I had a vanilla custard taiyaki (shown here with custard lipstick ^-^). The outside was smooth and crunchy. The inside was soft and filled with lovely custard. Don't let the line steer you wrong; they're pretty quick and this is perfect walking food! 



Street Donuts. The trailer was on hand with chocolate jalapeno donuts and others. The donuts have changed a bit over time but people definitely still like them. Donuts are made fresh so don't be surprised by the line. Perfect for sharing and walking! 



Pel Meni a.k.a. Dumpling Czar. I'm a fan of all kinds of dumplings! Grab a cup of these potato dumplings and you can continue on your journey. You can even share if you feel so inclined! 



Papa Bois. Unfortunately, the jerk chicken wings were sold out by the time I got there. At $5 a serving, it was a heck of a deal. Instead, I got the jerk chicken plate. It was a large serving that is good for sharing, but not walking. There's a lot of spicy chicken in here! It's balanced nicely by the pistachio rice. 




Off the Rez. I love grabbing a frybread taco for a number of reasons. It's yummy, small, and reasonably priced. The pork is seasoned well and melds well with the other ingredients. The frybread is crisp but absolutely devoid of grease. A great snack! 



My Sweet Lil Cakes. I found them posted up without their trailer but I was glad I did. I grabbed a sweet red velvet waffle. The hearty waffle topped with all kinds of sweetness makes the perfect dessert to top off the day! They serve their food with a smile and I even saw them handing out samples. 

Full Tilt. They recently launched their truck and it was at the festival. I forgot to take pictures. Ice cream on a hot afternoon? You do the math. I love that I can get their ice cream on a truck now. 

Overall, I was there for about 5-6 hours and I had a great time. It was easy to navigate and not too big or too small. I felt like I walked back and forth about 10 times and I still wasn't tired. Seating was so plentiful because of the park. Also, having a wading pool and other park amenities nearby was a nice compliment to a food event. Looking forward to next year! 

Seattle Foodtruckery photos are here. Feel free to browse some of my other albums when you visit. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

9 Must Try Dishes at the 2014 Seattle Street Food Festival

Today marks the return of the Seattle Street Food Festival.  For two days, hungry foodies will converge on Capitol Hill at Cal Anderson Park in search of the city's best street food.  If waiting in long lines are not your jam, wait in shorter lines by purchasing Very Important Foodie (VIF) passes.  From my perspective, these passes are totally worth the money.

Last year, I was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.  After reviewing the line up, I found myself thinking about the wonderful dishes I've had over the years and thought I would share them with you (in alphabetical order).

Beanfish

You can typically find Beanfish each week at Fremont Sunday Market. Rain or shine, they serve up taiyaki to street food fans. Fresh specials like the Kobe beef in addition to traditional favorites like azuki bean keep me coming back for more. Easily handheld, this is the perfect traveling food.


Crisp Creperie

Crisp continues to turn it up after a few years on the street. They have a unique batter and innovative recipes. Sweet or savory, you can't go wrong. One of my current faves is the banana and salted caramel. Yes, it contains bananas. Did I also mention that it has banana pudding and Nilla wafers? Enough said. The salted caramel has creamy depth of flavor that elevates this dish. Don't forget to grab some rosemary lemonade while you're there!



Jemil's Big Easy

Fan favorite Jemil's Big Easy returns to the festival. While I'm sure they'll have a special, I'm equally sure they will have my faves like jambalaya. Grab four spoons and you're ready to share with your friends (or not). Whether you're into catfish or chicken strips, they've got you covered. 



Los Agaves

Los Agaves can be found at farmers markets around the city. I've been impressed with the consistency of their food (always good). I love grabbing a plate of nachos to share with friends.  It gives me a chance to savor the ingredients and not fill up (so there's room for TONS more food).



Lumpia World

I've been eating at Lumpia World for years, well before they had a trailer. Lumpia makes great traveling food at a reasonable cost. You can get a sweet coconut rice pudding lumpia or ginger pork lumpia with your choice of sauce for just a few dollars.  Another winning dish is the island mac with SPAM. That's right...SPAM!!! Comfort food for your belly.



NOSH

This truck has it going on. My favorite dish is fried rabbit and they'll be running a special on it at the festival for $5. For just $5, this dish will change your life!  Crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.  NOSH has well-seasoned dishes for a reasonable price.  Handcut fries are a win as well as just about anything on their menu. 




My Sweet lil Cakes

My favorite savory waffle is the chicken and waffle.  However, the last time I saw My Sweet lil Cakes, I tried this sweet waffle - blueberry lemon ricotta.  It was fantastic!  Constrasting flavors with ripe blueberries, citrusy lemon, and creaminess of the ricotta.  Again, perfect street food for traveling!



Off the Rez

By far, the pork frybread taco from Off the Rez is my all-time favorite savory.  That marinated, pulled pork is juicy and flavorful.  Just the right toppings combine to make it the perfect bite.  The sweets are always yummy with classics such as Nutella but offering seasonal flavors depending on what's growing.



Papa Bois

Lavender cucumber lemonade from Papa Bois. Sound refreshing? Well, it is!  Combine that with spicy jerk chicken wings and the experience is heavenly.  The wings are a bit larger than I'm used to but those flavors are bold and definitely worth a try. 



The Seattle Street Food Festival runs from 5pm to 11pm on Friday, August 8th and 12pm to 10pm on Saturday, August 9th. Don't be a stranger...say hello if you see me on the street!