Oct 2, 2013
Tina George

Bringing Malaysian food, festivals to London

LONDON: For the fourth year running, Trafalgar Square will be playing host to Malaysia Night.

The early-autumn air will be filled with the unmistakable aroma of fried kuey teow and satay, and traditional Malaysian music as dancers in their exquisite ethnic costumes show off the best of Malaysian culture to the British public.

The event, beginning tomorrow, is organised by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade). It will showcase Malaysian food, food products, handicraft and culture.

Matrade chief executive officer Dr Wong Lai Sum said the event would highlight festivals such as Hari Raya, Mooncake Festival and Deepavali, and bring them to the attention of the British public.

“We would like to show our unity in diversity and that we live in harmony. We would like them to experience what it would be like to be in Malaysia during these festivals. We will be bringing them food, dances, lanterns, the sights, sounds and smell of Malaysia.”

Since its debut in 2010 at the iconic site popular with tourists all over the world, Malaysia Night or “Pasar Malam Malaysia” has been a date on the British social calendar that everyone looks forward to.

With popular Malaysian restaurants such as Tuk Din’s Flavour of Malaysia, Malaysian Pancake Co, Pan Chai and many others offering their delightful cuisine, the event promises to dazzle with the inclusion of traditional dancers flown in from Malaysia.

To ensure that the experience doesn’t end just at the square, as usual, there will be stalls selling Malaysian food products so that visitors can try cooking Malaysian food at home.

This fulfils the objective of Malaysia Kitchen Programme (MKP) to bring Malaysian food to the homes of the British.

“The MKP orientation is to bring Malaysian food to the tables of British households. We would like to raise awareness of Malaysian food, increase the number of visitors to Malaysia, people who would not only visit but also work and invest in Malaysia,” said Wong.

Since the MKP started, British celebrity chefs such as Rick Stein and Atul Kuchhar have been roped in to demonstrate Malaysian cooking in the United Kingdom. Promotions of Malaysian food products such as sauce and pastes have also been launched in supermarkets.

“In the past three years, we have brought 1,000 product lines with more than 200 brand names to supermarkets such as Sainsbury and Tesco, stores and ethnic stores such as Wing Yip in Manchester and Birmingham,” said Wong.

She urged producers of Malaysian food products to adhere to the regulations stipulated by the European Union (EU), where packaging and ingredients were concerned.

“It is an educational process for food producers to produce products that meet the standards stipulated by the EU. Once it is accepted by the EU, it is accepted in the UK. Labelling is very important.”

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Oct 2, 2013
Terri Judson

Readers’ favorite wineries and wine festivals

Last week we told you about our new, free Winery Road app for the iPad, which showcases three of California’s major American Viticultural Areas, including Livermore Valley, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Carmel Valley. (You’ll find it via the iTunes store, but here’s a shortcut: http://bit.ly/1bs36V4.) Later this fall, we’ll be releasing the Winery Road app for iPhone and Android — and adding the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA and Saratoga area wineries.

Meanwhile, several readers wrote in to let us know about their favorite wine-tasting regions. Here are their sips and tips:

Amador: The “wine culture” in Amador Valley makes it a favorite with San Jose reader Anne Halley Kel-Artinian, who says, “The wineries are generally smaller and friendlier than most of the other California wine regions. The wines have great character, with some varietals and blends rarely available outside the region. And the Big Crush is a great event with lots of food, wine and music.” That would be the Amador Vintners Association Big Crush Harvest Festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Find details at https://bigcrush.chirrpy.com.

Livermore Valley: Reader Gerry Ng suggests sipping at his favorite winery, Livermore’s Page Mill, which pours sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, merlot and port in its tasting room. Page Mill is open from noon to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. Details: www.pagemillwinery.com.

Northern Sonoma: And several readers reminded us that northern Sonoma County’s Wine Food Affair is coming up soon. The festivities include wine and food pairings at 107 wineries in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys. Admission ($50 for a Sunday only, $70 for the whole weekend) includes a copy of the “Tasting Along the Wine Road” cookbook. The wine fest runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3. Details: www.wineroad.com.

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Oct 2, 2013
Jim Benson

High rents cooking up food cart fight in Vancouver

When Sean Skaalrud decided to enter Vancouver’s food cart market six years ago, new operators had to win a lottery for a spot in the city.

Skaalrud took a different route: He decided to rent a food cart permit for his Big Dogs Street Hots from a permit holder off Craigslist for $3,500 a year. He paid cash under the table for the Yaletown location, which rose during a period of six years to $7,500, and then $10,000 annually.

A city permit for a food cart today, by contrast, costs just $1,100 per year.

“It feels like your business is being held hostage,� Skaalrud said. “I’m on complete edge; I don’t know what’s coming next.�

Skaalrud is among a group of increasingly frustrated food truck operators who have found themselves at the mercy of permit holders, many of whom have no intention of running a business themselves but are charging excessive rents to the new entrepreneurs.

He says repeated appeals to the city have gone unanswered, even though he provided a 1,000-signature petition in July and warned the city that “these people are making hundreds of thousands since 1986 off your property.�

“They’re landlords on city property,� Skaalrud said. “This is crazy.�

The high rents have forced many food truck operators to shut down, Skaalrud said, while others, such as the Korean Mama Express at Georgia and Granville, are on the brink.

Lee Yong-Sook, 58, said she works 11 hours a day, six days a week, yet more than half of the up to $6,000 she makes a month goes toward renting her licence at the intersection of Granville and Georgia.

“They’ve been in my warehouse crying. It’s so hard for them,� Skaalrud said. “It was OK when there were just 17 of us but now they’ve flooded the streets with all these vendors who are paying $1,100 (a year).

“It’s very tough to make it when you have that hanging over your head. The permits should be in the hands of the people doing the work.�

Vancouver deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston acknowledges the city is aware of the problem and is developing a “game plan� to deal with it, particularly for those permits issued before 2010. It’s not clear in the old bylaw, he said, whether it was illegal for permit holders to sub-lease their locations. Plus, there wasn’t as much interest in food carts back then as there is now in downtown Vancouver.

The city has since prohibited permit holders from renting out their locations as part of its new program, but Johnston acknowledged the city is also looking into concerns that some entrepreneurs are being forced to “partner� with permit holders who claim they have a one-per-cent stake in the company so they can charge higher rents.

“It’s taking us a little while to figure out what’s going on,� Johnston said. “We’re looking at our options. It doesn’t make sense that you can get a location and sell it and increase the primary cost.

“The whole idea of the food cart program is to provide an opportunity for new entrepreneurs to get into the food industry.�

Johnston expects to meet with food truck operators this fall before going to city council with options that could potentially go into play next year. He noted there are more than 100 vendors involved in the food cart program, and many have been sub-leasing permits for the past 25 years, most of them without problems.

“In the last 20 to 30 years it wasn’t ever an issue,� he said. “We’re trying to understand exactly what is going on with the permits that are out there. We recognize we have more work to do.�

Coun. Heather Deal, who has been a champion of the food cart program, said the city didn’t oversee the situation but will close the loophole and tighten the regulations. And if people keep charging exorbitant prices, she added, it will also hopefully stop people from signing a deal with them.

But some food truck operators say they don’t have a choice because the location is usually what makes or breaks them.

Three years ago, Lee won a licence in the city’s first lottery for a location at Richards and Georgia. A year later, construction on the Telus Garden development affected the number of pedestrians sampling her kimchee and rice cake burgers. After receiving permission to move to less-profitable spots outside the central library and in South Granville, she decided to start renting at the coveted Granville and Georgia location three months ago.

In front of a sign that reads: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten,� Lee said it’s unfair that she has to maintain one licence at an unsustainable location while renting another two blocks away.

Skaalrud has three locations, but maintains he needs the popular Yaletown spot because that’s where he gets the most traffic. He hasn’t even met the permit holder there, he said, because he has only dealt with her son, and only under the table. When he asked for receipts for tax purposes last year, the permit wasn’t renewed and Skaalrud could no longer run his business in Yaletown.

That meant he had to shut down his carts early so he could head to the oilpatch this winter.

“It’s like a black market out there,� he said. “My whole business is up in the air, jobs are in the air. This is a tiny little street operation, weather dependent. It’s a tough market.�

With a file from Mike Hager



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Oct 2, 2013
Jim Benson

Sonoita food cart serves up flavors from the Deep South

Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 9:15 am

Sonoita food cart serves up flavors from the Deep South

By JB Miller
The Bulletin

Nogales International


Down home Southern cooking is something that folks in these parts either yearn for or have never experienced. But that is luckily changing thanks in part to Chef Adam Avaritt who has brought his Arkansas-Louisiana cuisine to the Sonoita crossroads.

“It’s pure Southern,” Avaritt said.

Named Fawn’s Lunch Box for owner Leigh Walker-Hardt’s daughter, the bright, stainless steel kitchen on wheels is not hard to spot at the corner of State Routes 82 and 83 – especially at lunch hour (Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). That’s when cowboys, bikers, tourists, Border Patrol agents and other hungry jacks begin to line up for popular dishes ranging from smothered chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes, to pulled beef Barbecue Beef sandwiches with coleslaw and green beans.

“It’s real easy to find a good steak or Mexican food in this area so we wanted to do something different,” Avaritt said. “This is the food I grew up eating and cooking. It’s hard to beat a good meatloaf and mashed potatoes, gravy and greens. The response has been great.”

One of the most popular items on the menu has been the smoked pork chops which, like the other entrees, is traditionally served with two vegetables and a roll. Avaritt said it didn’t take long for work to spread. “That’s been really gratifying.”

Avaritt said everything is made fresh either the night before or the same morning that it is placed in the food truck. He said that while some of the menu items such as the catfish po-boy (one of the specials) gave some folks pause at first, he had a sure remedy. “I give free samples.”

For the not-so-adventurous, the Lunch Box also offers an assortment of burgers as well as lighter fare such as cold chicken salad or grilled veggie kabobs.

In addition, Fawn’s Lunch Box is also serving early birds a menu offering biscuits and gravy as well as breakfast sandwiches, bagels and pancakes. It’s available Monday-Friday, from 6 a.m. to around 8 a.m.

For more information call (520) 237-7491 or look for them on Facebook.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013 9:15 am.

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Oct 2, 2013
Jim Benson

Halal Guys food cart to open restaurant in East Village

The Halal Guys are heading downtown.

The famed food cart, known for the long late-night lines it draws on 53rd St. and 6th Ave., is opening a restaurant in the East Village this November.

The new location on 14th St. and 2nd Ave. will feature shish kebabs, more vegetarian options, and a juice bar, according to general manager Hesham Hegazy.


The food stand started out as a hot dog cart in 1990, according to general manager Hesham Hegazy.


The food stand started out as a hot dog cart in 1990, according to general manager Hesham Hegazy.

“We’re working with the interior designer now,” Hegazy confirmed to The News, adding that The Guys are planning to add some sparse indoor seating to the venue.

The team scouted out the area by opening up a cart on that corner two weeks ago. They chose the East Village for its club scene and NYU’s nearby 14th street dorm, Hegazy said.

The cart is currently open from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m., and Hegazy plans to make sure the restaurant stays open for just as long.


The stand is popular destination in the tri-state area, especially among Desis—people of South Asian descent.


The stand is popular destination in the tri-state area, especially among Desis—people of South Asian descent.

“It’s ambitious, yes,” Hegazy said. “But our customers have been asking about this for years.”

The news comes as both surprise and relief to many waiting it out on The Halal Guys line this Monday.

“Finally,” said Minsu No, a 22-year-old who traveled by car to the city from Palisades Park, N.J., just for the cart’s chicken and lamb combo. He couldn’t find parking, so he said a friend was driving around while he waited in line.


The Halal Guys are known for their gyros and rice platters, which have stayed around $6 for the past 23 years.


The Halal Guys are known for their gyros and rice platters, which have stayed around $6 for the past 23 years.

“I’ve been eating here for nine years,” No told The News. “I’d be at that store every day.”

The Halal Guys started out as just another hot dog cart in 1990. The company’s founders then realized there was money to be made by selling Halal food to the Muslim cabbies who drove through Midtown.

Since then, the company has grown to operate five food stands — including two stands on 6th Ave. another one on 7th Ave. and a lonely outpost at Queens’ LaGuardia Community College.


What’s so great about the food? Several people on line this Monday said that it was the white sauce. “What do they put in there? Magic, maybe?” asked Minsu No, from N.J.


What’s so great about the food? Several people on line this Monday said that it was the white sauce. “What do they put in there? Magic, maybe?” asked Minsu No, from N.J.

Hegazy said he’s even fielded franchise requests from people in Europe and South Asia.

Still, the lines are the longest at the cart’s original location on the southwest corner of 53rd and 6th. Even though the cart on the southeast corner is selling the same food, there are rarely any lines on that side of the street.

Part of the The Halal Guys draw seems to be linked to the word-of-mouth marketing that built its fame in the first place. It’s the story people tell their friends, that there’s this one food cart on this one random corner in the city that sells this one amazing dish — but woe to the foodie who orders from the wrong guys.

“It’s psychological,” Hegazy explains. “Our name is a brand.”

It remains to be seen whether tying that brand to an actual New York address will hold the same mythical power over its fan base.

24-year-old Richard Park, from Palisades Park, N.J., has been eating The Halal Guys’ food for nearly a decade and he had no idea that there was more than one location. He’s a bit more hesitant about the move downtown.

“I’ll definitely go, but I don’t think there would be as much of a scene,” Park told The News. “I like this atmosphere, being outside. And at 4 a.m., watching all the drunk people from the clubs standing on line.”

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Oct 2, 2013
Kim Rivers

Beecon, Our Food Truck Finder Map, is Shutting Down

Beecon, Our Food Truck Finder Map, is Shutting Down

We are sad to tell you that Beecon, the service that provided the interactive food truck finder, is going to shut down. This is the last active week. Martin Nguyen from the San Francisco area developed the software behind Beecon, with local support by Vince Nguyen and Nicole Webber. SideDish established a relationship with Beecon over a year ago to provide the raw data for Dallas and some of the Ft. Worth food trucks. Unfortunately, though, Nguyen is going to begin working with a hot new startup and will not have time to continue Beecon, a service that never charged anyone money for the iPad app or for the browser-based Beecon.

Martin, Vince, and Nicole: Thank you for your time and energy in support of the Dallas and Ft. Worth food truck market. It has been a great working relationship.

Going forward, I will still use the tabular schedule. In place of the map, I plan on featuring a different food truck each week.

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Oct 2, 2013
Kim Rivers

Food truck rally could signal greater acceptance (Video)

Aaron Ramirez’s Taquero Fusion was one of the first food trucks to hit the streets of Chicago three years ago.

It's not yet clear which food trucks will appear at the October rally.

It’s not yet clear which food trucks will appear at the October rally.

The city of Chicago has announced it will hold a food truck rally on Friday, Oct. 11 in Daley Plaza, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., featuring eight food trucks.

In a statement, the city said the rally is explicitly designed to help boost the food truck industry in Chicago. Additionally, the city stated it is aiming to “streamline licensing for new trucks entering the market.”

That’s a major turn in policy in recent months. Just within the past year, food truck interests expressed their frustration with the city over delayed licenses, a particularly tough application process, and tight restrictions.

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Oct 2, 2013
Kim Rivers

LAX Puts Food Truck Inside Terminal, Announces Rotating Chefs


Pulling into a terminal near you: food trucks. While other airports have been allowing food trucks to pull into airport cellphone lots, the Los Angeles airport is bringing a food truck right into Terminal 4.

While LAX doesn’t actually allow food trucks to drive in off the streets, they’re showing their love of mobile cuisine by placing the shell of a food truck inside the American Airlines terminal. The truck, which opens for business on November 1, will be operated by chefs from popular LA food trucks on a rotating basis. The “truck” will be outfitted much like any other food truck, except that it won’t drive away after all the food has been served.

The food truck-airport relationship was started at the Tampa International Airport in Florida last December, where they invited the vehicles to park and sell food in the cellphone lot.

Other airports that now host food trucks include Tucson International Airport in Arizona, Long Beach Airport in California, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas, with other airports considering the increasingly popular option. At the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport you can get street food, including hot dogs, bratwurst, and nachos from a food cart vendor that wanders the airport.

Bringing food trucks into the airport fold is beneficial for a number of reasons, not least of which is allowing travelers to get a first (or last) tasty bite of the region.

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Oct 2, 2013
Kim Rivers

Feeling hungry, Punk? New food truck with attitude brings fine dining chef …

As more and more well-established food trucks open brick and mortar locations in Houston, there’s room in the market for new trucks to step up and find a following. One such contender is Gastro Punk.

This two-month old food truck bills itself as serving “American street food with a South Texas attitude.” The eye catching design features a punk chicken and full sound system with a TV. More than looks, it takes great food to establish a truck, and Gastro Punk’s owners have cooking chops to spare.

 Schoenburg hesitates for a bit when asked to define his food but settles on “gastropub food” and “street food from everywhere.” 

“My wife and I are both fine dining chefs,” owner Don Schoenburg tells CultureMap. When Schoenburg and his wife, pastry chef Christina Carter, moved back to Texas after a two-year stint in the British Virgin Islands, he says “I couldn’t find anything I wanted to sink my teeth into.” Carter encouraged him to open a food truck to do “my kind of food.”

Schoenburg hesitates for a bit when asked to define his food but settles on “gastropub food” and “street food from everywhere” as descriptors. He and Carter make all of their own ingredients including barbecue sauce, salsa and pickles. For example, this week the truck will introduce a house-made wild boar bratwurst with homemade sauerkraut on a Slow Dough bun and a duck burger.   

There are  even a couple of healthy options in the form of an ahi tuna burger and watermelon salad. Also, thanks to Carter’s skills, the truck serves its own desserts, which is rare to find in a truck with savory offerings. 

In addition to the unusual ingredients, Schoenburg stresses that they cook everything to order. “The quality shows through in the food we serve,” he says. 

The truck can be found at a variety of spots around town, including dog park bar The Boneyard on Tuesday, Memorial Wine Cellar on Wednesday and Friday and the new food truck park in EaDo on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Follow Gastro Punk on Twitter and Facebook to stay current on times and locations. 

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Oct 2, 2013
Kim Rivers

Top Chef food truck brings a taste of New Orleans to the Big Apple

Dedicated “Top Chef” fans got a taste of New Orleans in the Big Apple.

To celebrate the season 11 premiere of “Top Chef,” set in New Orleans on Wednesday, Bravo has teamed up with Grub Street to roll out a Top Chef food truck serving Big Easy specialties throughout the city from beignets for breakfast to po’ boys for lunch.

Pictured here (left to right) Smoked sausage po' boy, Shrimp po' boy and Roast beef po' boy.

Adrian Lam/New York Daily News

Pictured here (left to right) Smoked sausage po’ boy, Shrimp po’ boy and Roast beef po’ boy.


“Top Chef” judges Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons were on site at select locations serving up Southern specialties straight from Domilise’s Po-Boy and Bar in New Orleans. The menu featured beignets, fried shrimp po’ boys, roast beef po’ boys, jambalaya and red beans with rice.

Dedicated “Top Chef” fans waited up to two and a half hours to get a taste of the Big Easy.

Adrian Lam/New York Daily News

Dedicated “Top Chef” fans waited up to two and a half hours to get a taste of the Big Easy.

“We were throwing around ideas and said, ‘What’s the one thing New Yorkers can’t get here? And we thought, po’boys from Domilise’s,” Grubstreet editor Alan Sytsma told the Daily News of the delicious collaboration.


The roast beef po' boy.

Adrian Lam/New York Daily News

The roast beef po’ boy.

To get in on the free lunch, eaters followed their taste buds to Twitter via @BravoTopChef along with their Facebook page where times and locations were announced throughout the day. The truck made stops outside the New York Times Building, Columbus Circle, Time Inc. and Union Square luring in lines of hungry foodies willing to wait up to two and a half hours.

“I’m a Louisiana native so I’ve been following the food truck all morning!” said Zac Denham, 26 of Astoria who waited two hours on his day off to get his hands on a shrimp po’boy. “I’m just ready to eat!”

Hungry New Yorkers wait in line to get a taste of New Orleans.

Adrian Lam/New York Daily News

Hungry New Yorkers wait in line to get a taste of New Orleans.

“I went to school in New Orleans so I think it’s really cool that they’re bringing actual po’ boys to New York for everyone to try,” said Chelsea native Lisa Ganguzza, 28 who didn’t mind taking a half hour lunch break to wait in line. “It’s definitely just as spicy and delicious as it is in New Orleans.”

For every meal served, donations were made to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

The shrimp po-boy.

Adrian Lam/New York Daily News

The shrimp po-boy.

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