Thursday, October 07, 2004

preliminary update on the battle of the food trucks. have been partaking of this guilty pleasure of cheap, mobile gratification in edible form. a quick exchange of dollars for a styrofoam full of hot morsels. seemingly, you can't expect much quality to emerge from the overwhelming quantity, but at times one cannot resist the temptation of wheeled meal. plus, lining up in a huge queue outside a truck tends to be a popular thing around here. might as well conform to the masses.

the lineup

delicious lunch box [operated by yangs inc, owned by falafel king, owned by chicken king], parked outside 77 mass ave to the left of the steps. chinese food, mostly sauced specials piled on bland rice or noodles, with an eggroll or scallion pancake tossed in the mix.

couscous king, parked on other side of 77 mass ave. middle eastern specialties, such as hummus and falafel.

goosebeary's, stata center lot. a mix of asian tastes, from mango chicken salad to wonton soup. always has the longest, most intimidating line.

jerusalem cafe, stata center lot. middle eastern stuff like shwarma sandwiches and spanakopita.

jose's mexican, stata center lot. burritos, enchiladas, chips + salsa. the tech once published an interesting feature article on one of the truck guys.

some unnamed italian, stata center lot. pizzas, subs, calzones.

the ratings

delicious lunch box seems to be hit or miss, but they earn my trust. first time around, got the taiwanese ground pork on rice. not terrible, but a bit sweet and a tad greasy. would have forgiven them but the meat was edging on caramel overtones. i ate it anyway; appetite overcomes the worst of obstacles. a second go-around, ordered the hongkong beef on noodles. lots tastier, and the portion was enough to feed a small asian family, so right on track.

went to the couscous kitchen earlier this week for the first time and splurged on a lamb falafel sandwich combo for $4.25. had been feeling a bit under the weather, so although i was willing to eat [when am i not?], my stomach had its limitations. i managed to finish half of the hulking tube of middle eastern descent, and wrapped it carefully to keep the tahini from leaking in my bag. [it ended up a little soggy later, but flavorful soggy nonetheless!] a good sandwich, although not the boldest taste i've had. i wish the lamb had been seasoned a bit more.

i just tried goosebeary's just now. [i went to a graduate women's lunch at noon today, and they had takeout chinese, but the room was so hot and crowded that i rushed through the chicken + broccoli.] never tried this truck before because it's usually so unattainable [imagine the bread line], and a friend mentioned that they've gotten the most healthcode violations that he's heard of. well. cheap food comes at a price, i say! anyway, got the viet curry tofu for $3.00, a definite steal. now the huge lines make sense. surprisingly tasty, with a melange of veggies and pillows of fried tofu in a yellow saucy pile with rice and vietnamese salad [cilantro! bean sprouts!]. so good, almost makes contracting hepA that much more delicious.

the two times i tried jerusalem cafe i've been a tad disappointed. first go: the lamb shwarma. large foil-wrapped tube of syrian bread and saucy [ooh la] interior. just okay, but more bulk than brilliance, i'd say. next try was the goat curry. thought i'd take a gamble with such an exotic entree. most people i know actually rave about the goat, but i thought it was terribly executed. had to shower with salt and pepper to get any flavor. the goat as a whole was decent but the curry had something coming to it. doubtful if i'll ever order from there again.

jose mexican, i've learned, does its main things right, but its accoutrements wrong. once i got beef tacos + rice + beans + salad, and although the tacos were satisfactory, the sheer mediocrity of the beans made me want to cry. their salsa [red and green] has a resoundingly spicy finish but their wateriness falls short of being worthy of a crisp greasy chip. went back recently for a beef burrito, and was quite happy with it. never more, you misleading combo option, you.

the last italian place i've eyed but never really got the guts to try. i mean, pizza pretty much sums up the graduate student experience, so the cravings for italian end up self-squelching. yesterday, in the middle of tangible class, my tummy was rumbling so i'd thought i'd give it a shot. quite a fan of the calzone, i exchanged my precious $2.50 for a chicken calzone. i should have seen the first clue of despair, when the guy said, oh, lucky you, you got the last one. not knowing whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, i took my chances. i received a foil-wrapped bready thing roughly the size of a kaiser roll. after a bite, realized what i gotten myself into. i read chicken calzone, i think chunks of chicken in herby tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, something like that. this was literally bread dough rolled around a half-dozen chicken nuggets. how cruel, how unjust! i fished out each nugget one by one and murmured a short prayer before consuming each lifeless piece. the breading had become soggy in the red [no tomato assumptions here] sauce, and the cheese had coagulated into an inpenetratable helmet along the top of the interior. the unraveling of this meal disaster was probably the saddest moment of the day.

the verdict

delicious lunch box and goosebeary's deserve repeat visits. jose's mexican a close runner-up. never fear, more food truck tales to come. if there are more to explore, let me know. i live for the thrill.

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