Browsing articles tagged with " food carts"
Jan 22, 2014
Kim Rivers

Frickin Chicken Plans Permanent Spot As City Mulls Food Truck Law

Fayetteville City Council members again voted Tuesday night to delay deciding the fate of mobile food vendors, but the owner of one popular local chicken truck went ahead and decided to open his own restaurant near Dickson Street.

Clayton Scott, owner of the Frickin Chicken food truck, said he is raising money to open a location at a permanent building on West Spring Street. He has raised $1,000 so far out of his $25,000 goal, but state officials have already granted his new location a liquor license, according to Alcohol Beverage Control documents.

“I don’t care what I have to do,” Scott said.  “I will take money out of my IRA or sell everything I have. I will be in a brick and mortar the second week in March.”

The City Council voted Tuesday night to table a discussion on a proposed ordinance concerning how long mobile food trucks can stay on certain properties. Council members have been mulling a proposed ordinance on the issue since last year, tabling it at the last several council meetings.

“There is a little bit of uncertainty, because the rules are not clear as of right now,” Scott said. “Things are in a state of flux right now.”

City leaders will address the food truck issue in February and try further to formulate an ordinance, they said Tuesday.

Frickin Chicken will still keep its food truck, in addition to its new planned permanent location.

Changes to the food truck ordinance over the last seven months have come with controversy, as some local restaurant owners do not want food trucks nearby. Some have said the mobile vendors hurt their business. Food truck owners, meanwhile, want to be able to spend more time in one location. Neither side saw a resolution Tuesday night.

Until a conclusion is reached, Scott has a message for mobile food vendors.

“Believe in your product,” Scott said. “Believe in what you are doing. Have a vision for it. Be tenacious. Don’t give up and do whatever it takes to hang in there.”

The Frickin Chicken food truck was embroiled last summer in a dispute with KFC, in which KFC management urged the Fayetteville Planning Commission to deny Frickin Chicken’s request for an extension to continue service at a parking lot across the street and up the block from a Fayetteville KFC location.

Joseph A. Morrow with KFC/BRM Foods called the food truck a “conflict of interest to our success.”

The Planning Commission granted Frickin Chicken an extension to stay at the location later the same month. Its permit with the city was scheduled to expire the following month. The extension allowed the food truck to continue using the location for at least nine additional months.

Mobile food vendors sought later in the year to obtain permits allowing them to keep food trucks in one spot for longer than had previously been allowed. City leaders later extended the permit period from 90 days to six months.

Additional changes to the food truck ordinance, discussed by council members over the last several months, could include allowing vendors to operate daily on private property. A proposed ordinance could also create an extended permitting process to allow vendors to operate in the same location for as long as a year, according to staff recommendations made in city documents.

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Jan 22, 2014
Kim Rivers

Durham food truck rodeo, beer and wine dinners and a pancake breakfast


Triangle Restaurant Week

Triangle Restaurant Week is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants. Noon Jan. 22, noon Jan. 23, noon Jan. 24, noon Jan. 25, noon Jan. 26. Triangle Restaurant Week, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants, Raleigh. 919-673-3974.

Triangle Brewing Company Beer Dinner

Triangle Brewing Co. Beer Dinner 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23. $48, Maggiano’s Little Italy, 8030 Renaissance Parkway, Durham. 919-572-0070.

Pancake Breakfast at Weathervane

Set your alarms for Weathervane’s $5 Pancake Breakfast happening every Saturday from 7-10 a.m. Choose from plain, chocolate or blueberry with bacon or sausage.7 a.m. Jan. 25. $5. The Weathervane, 201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill. 919-929-9466.

Food Truck Rodeo

Experience the first Rodeo of 2014 and the event that helped launch Durham’s food truck craze! Bring a blanket or a lawn chair so that YOU can enjoy a relaxing and enjoyable event with more than 40 trucks serving food. Noon-4 p.m., Jan. 26. Durham Central Park, 501 Foster St., Durham. 919-794-8194.

Weathervane Beer Dinner with Mystery Brewing

Weathervane’s Executive Chef Spencer Carter hosts Hillsborough’s own Mystery Brewing for a five-course dinner paired with Mystery’s best brews. 7 p.m. Jan. 28. $50. Southern Season, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill. 919-929-7133.

Book Signing and FREE Samples with Taylor Mathis author of The Southern Tailgating Cookbook at Foster’s Market, Chapel Hill

Taylor Mathis will be having a book signing at Foster’s Market, Chapel Hill in conjunction with Flyleaf Books Saturday February 1 from 11:30-1. There will be FREE samples from 11:30 a.m. Feb. 1. FREE. Fosters Market, 750 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Chapel Hill. 919-967-3663.


Global Cuisine Cooking Class

Cherisse will use authentic, easy to find ingredients to teach you how to make international, unique small bites that will transport you to foreign lands.6:15 p.m. Jan. 23. $49. Whisk, Waverly Place shopping center, Cary. 919-322-2458.

Winter Lunch in Provence

Most areas of Provence are privileged with mild weather throughout much of the year, yet the winter months turn quite cold as the infamous Mistral wind begins to blow. Noon, Jan. 24. $30. Southern Season, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill. 919-929-7133.

Super Bowl Gourmet

Debbie Moose, author of “Fanfare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home,” knows that the game is won or lost under the tailgating tent. 4 p.m. Jan. 25. $45. Southern Season, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill. 919-929-7133.

Super Bowl Soiree

Kickoff your Super Bowl celebration with Susan Hearn, chef and owner of the Satisfy Your Soul product line, and craft Super Bowl snacks that are sure to score big. 6 p.m. Jan. 27. $40. Southern Season, 201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill. 919-929-7133.

Cooking Class with Chef Amy

Take lessons from the best of the best with a series of cooking classes taught by chef Amy Tornquist, owner of Sage Swift Catering, Watts Grocery Hummingbird Bakery, 10 a.m. Jan. 29, 10 a.m. Feb. 12, 10 a.m. Feb. 26, 10 a.m. March 5, 10 a.m. March 19. If you book two or more classes, you get a 15 percent discount. Watts Grocery, 1116 Broad St., Durham. 919-957-7889.

Farmers Markets

Wake Forest Farmers’ Market

10 a.m. Jan. 25, 10 a.m. Feb. 1, 10 a.m. Feb. 8, 10 a.m. Feb. 15, 10 a.m. Feb. 22, 10 a.m. March 1, 10 a.m. March 8. OneCare Parking Lot, 150 N. White St., Wake Forest. 919-671-9269.

Food Tours

Downtown Raleigh Walking Tour

1:45 p.m. Jan. 24, 1:45 p.m. Jan. 25, 1:45 p.m. Jan. 31, 3:30 p.m. Feb. 1, 1:45 p.m. Feb. 7, 4 p.m. Feb. 8, 1:45 p.m. Feb. 14. $50-$65. Briggs Hardware Store Building, 220 Fayetteville St., Raleigh. 919-237-2254.

Wine Events

Wine Down Wednesday

Wine Down Wednesday $4 Wine11:30 a.m. Jan. 22, 11:30 a.m. Jan. 29, 11:30 a.m. Feb. 5, 11:30 a.m. Feb. 12, 11:30 a.m. Feb. 19, 11:30 a.m. Feb. 26. James Joyce Irish Pub, 912 W. Main St., Durham. 919-683-3022.

Half Price Wine at North Hills

Every Monday until 11pm, enjoy 50% all wines at Mia Francesca Trattoria. 5 p.m. Jan. 27. Mia Francesca Trattoria, 4100 Main at North Hills St., Raleigh. 919-278-1525.

Rustic French Wine Dinner

On January 28 at 7 p.m., join Watts Grocery as they team up with Hope Valley Bottle Shop for a Rustic French Wine Dinner. 7 p.m. Jan. 28. $55 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Watts Grocery, 1116 Broad St., Durham. 919-957-7889.

Recommended Reading

Jan 22, 2014
Kim Rivers

Despite opposition, Jacksonville Beach council backs food truck businesses – Florida Times

JACKSONVILLE BEACH — Food trucks appear headed for this coastal community seven months after the City Council began discussing the issue that drew supporters from the industry and opponents among some local restaurant owners.

RELATED: What people are saying about the issue on the Times-Union’s Facebook page

Mayor Charlie Latham and four of the six other city council members expressed their support of an ordinance at a public hearing Tuesday that would allow the food truck businesses to open at the Beaches, but a second reading and vote isn’t expected until the Feb. 3 council meeting.

The council expressed unanimous approval for two related ordinances regarding the zoning for such businesses and appointing a special magistrate to oversee the enforcement of regulations for the trucks.

The trucks are banned from all three Beaches communities, but a push by truck owners eventually led to a series of workshops held by the Jacksonville Beach City Council followed by three draft ordinances regulating the trucks.

While food truck owners and their fans spoke at the workshops in favor of locating at the beach, some restaurant owners expressed their concerns over the competition and the trucks not facing the same regulations as their businesses.

Latham said he believes the design of the ordinances will do everything possible to keep established restaurants from being harmed by the new business. He said he is also pleased the program will be done on a year-long test basis, with the council to revisit the impact in April 2015 with the possibility of changing or eliminating the ordinances.

“We especially need to continue to support our brick and mortar businesses and I think staff has done a really admirable job of finding the best possible compromise,” Latham said in voicing his support for the trucks.

Councilman Tom Taylor said after long thought that he’s decided to support the ordinances.

“I think it would be unfair to our citizens if we don’t try this pilot program,” Taylor said. “Competition is what it’s all about.”

Council members Keith Doherty, Christine Hoffman and Phil Vogelsang expressed their support of the ordinances.

But Steve Hartkemeyer and Jeanell Wilson expressed concerns about regulations brick and mortar restaurants have to adhere to compared to food trucks. Wilson also expressed worries about potential parking problems created by the trucks.

“I’ve never been satisfied with the answers I’ve received about what they’re doing with their grease and what they’re doing with their trash,” Hartkemeyer said. “Is that trash going to show up at my wife’s gym?”

The dozen speakers on the issue at Tuesday’s regular council meeting split on supporting the ordinances.

John Stanford, who owns Blind Rabbit restaurant in Jacksonville Beach, a second restaurant in Jacksonville and a food truck in Jacksonville, said food trucks help bring jobs to a community and give entrepreneurs a chance to make a living.

“I think it’s a great thing for someone to get started as a business owner and to bring more tax revenue to the city,” Stanford said. “It would provide a great service to the Beaches area.”

Ed Malin, owner of Angie’s Subs on Beach Boulevard and a second eatery said he has no problem with food trucks, but doesn’t think the ordinances as written hold them as responsible as regulations for established restaurants. Malin said there should be one set of rules for everyone.

“I’m 100 percent for food trucks and government getting out of the way of the American businessman,” Malin said. “But I think the council is going to create a special interest ordinance for special group of people and whenever we do that, we create problems.”

The Beaches would be the latest spot for business conducted by food trucks in Duval County. About 60 are licensed to operate outside the Beaches.

The ordinances as currently written would only allow the trucks — not food carts — on private property with the owner’s permission, one per minimum lot size, with no limits on outdoor seating. Properties under the ordinances must be at least 6,000 to 43,559 square feet for one truck and more than 43,560 square feet for two.

City officials have estimated about two dozen properties would fit the ordinance restrictions in the city’s central business district.

Other provisions include:

◘ Routine inspections can be conducted by code enforcement, building code and fire inspectors and police officers.

◘ The vehicles must be located at least 100 feet from the main entrance to any eating establishment or similar food services business or outdoor dining area.

◘ One free-standing sandwich board or A-frame type sign, not to exceed 42 inches in height and 36 inches in width, is permitted for each vendor.

◘ Hours of operation are limited to 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. unless the location of the lot is within 150 feet of the property line of a home, when the hours would end at 10 p.m.

◘ The vendor is responsible for proper daily disposal of waste and trash and can’t use city trash receptacles.

◘ Liquid waste or grease shall be disposed of at an approved location and not placed in such places as storm drains or onto any sidewalk, street or other public space.

The city’s planning and development department began a study in the summer of 2011 on how other cities handled food trucks, collecting regulations from 25 jurisdictions as part of the research. Steve Lindorff, director of the department, said he thinks food trucks can easily co-exist with established restaurants at the beach.

“I think it adds to the quality of life in our community by providing an alternative way of enjoying a meal,” Lindorff said. “They’re obviously very popular in other locations.”

Jim Schoettler: (904) 359-4385

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Jan 22, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food Truck Association Fights to Lift Ban in Alexandria

1285198057_m_Cover_front-1Now that the fight over D.C.’s food truck regulations is over, the DMV Food Truck Association has its eye on reform of Alexandria’s mobile vending scene, which is currently nonexistent. Food trucks are banned in Alexandria, except for construction sites and permitted special events.

Today, the food truck association launches its “Alexandria Hearts Food Trucks Campaign” with a website that aims to dispel myths about food trucks and rally supporters to contact city councilmembers.  In the coming months, the organization will also host a “Food Trucks 101″ panel, open to the public, in the hopes of getting its message out.

Alexandria is the most restrictive place for food trucks in the greater Washington area, says DMVFTA Political Director Che Ruddell-Tabisola, who’s also a co-owner of BBQ Bus. He says food trucks regularly get requests to vend at school fundraisers, the Mark Center Building, and Port City Brewing Company, but according to current laws, they can’t vend on public or private property without special event permits. “Most Alexandria residents are unaware of how extensive the ban is,” he says.

Last year, the city of Alexandria formed a task force consisting of food truck owners, restaurant owners, and community residents to take another look at the ban. The task force still has at least one meeting before it issues a report to the City Manager’s Office. From there, the City Manager’s Office will draft a proposal that will go to the city council, likely sometime before summer.

“I believe we’re going to lift the ban this year,” Ruddell-Tabisola says. “I’m confident about that.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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Jan 22, 2014
Jim Benson

Greek Devil replaces Au Bon Pain cart

The Greek Devil replaced the Au Bon Pain food cart in a change that took effect following winter break.

Originally created to decrease foot traffic in Au Bon Pain’s Bryan Center location, the cart ultimately did not produce enough revenue to justify staying. The Greek Devil has replaced the Au Bon Pain cart in the hopes that the move will increase foot traffic to the Mediterranean eatery, which was located next to Penn Pavilion Fall semester.

“It ended up being kind of redundant,” said senior Chris Taylor, co-director of Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee. “It didn’t really increase their business by any amount so they were fine with moving on past it.”

Nick Sandilands, Au Bon Pain general manager added that most students were still going to the Bryan Center location because it was so close to the cart which was only being used for “quick pick-ups.”

The renovation of the West Union building and the subsequent closing of the Bryan Center Plaza entrance has shifted the walking paths of many students and left outdoor vendors on campus strapped for business.

“The Greek Devil has been struggling this year and expressed interest when the discussion came up about that cart being available this semester,” Director of Dining Services Robert Coffey wrote in an email Monday.

Owner of The Greek Devil, Gus Megaloudis, said he prefers his new, more centralized location to last semester’s spot next to the Penn Pavilion.

“Once weather gets just a little bit better and people start to figure out that we’re here again, things will get better for us,” Megaloudis said. “I’m excited to be here.”

Students’ initial reaction to the switch has been positive.

“I personally am someone who would go out of my way to get a gyro from Gus, and I don’t think I’m alone in that, so hopefully they’ll be just fine, if not better than before,” junior Arielle Brackett said.

Junior Rachel Clausen noted that the Greek Devil cart is a quick alternative to waiting in line at the Loop or Au Bon Pain.

The food cart itself serves as a pilot for a new design to replace the current carts on campus, which have become weathered, Coffey said. The potential revamp accompanies the ongoing attempt to upgrade alternative dining options on campus.

Since the closing of West Union, certain eateries have become overcrowded, especially during the lunch rush and dinnertime hours. Taylor said he hopes that more students will feel compelled to go to the Greek Devil’s new location.

“It’s something that’s a problem for students because you don’t want to have to wait so long at the eateries you frequent,” Taylor said. “The thing we’re trying to do is elevate other eateries to put less stress on those places.”

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Jan 22, 2014
Tim Lester




Category: The Taste

Published on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 12:07

Hits: 79




Thursday at 8/7c on ABC


Street Food” –The mentors are challenging their teams with creating delicious dishes inspired by classic “street food.” Sandwiches, seafood – and, of course, the classic English delicacy of fish chips – are on the menu this week as 12 remaining competitors battle it out for the chance to stay in “The Taste” kitchen another week.
Chef Roy Choi is guest judge this week where Anthony Bourdain shares a secret weapon with his kitchen. Spam! Find out who wins on “The Taste” THURSDAY, JANUARY 23 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on ABC.
“The Taste” features no-holds barred Chef Anthony Bourdain, British food star Nigella Lawson, expert chef/author Ludo Lefebvre, and joining “The Taste” this season, chef, author and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson. It is from Kinetic Content and is executive-produced by Chris Coelen, Matilda Zoltowski, Emma Conway, Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and Brian Smith who is the director.
The Taste” is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format, with 5.1-channel surround sound. This program carries a TV-14,L parental guideline.
For more information on “The Taste,” visit Taste.
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Jan 22, 2014
Tim Lester

The Dosa Factory Elevates a Traditional Indian Street Food to Delicious Perfection

There are more than 34,000 McDonald’s locations in 119 countries worldwide. Dunkin’ Donuts operates about 15,000 franchises, and Starbucks has spread to 62 countries, opening nearly 21,000 locations in just 40 years. This is what America has given to the rest of the world. This is our fast food, our cheap food, our classic street food.

But in Seoul, women have been frying squid outside of shopping centers for decades and selling rice cakes for centuries. In Paris, pedestrians stop at stalls for fresh crepes filled with ham and cheese, while night owls in Mexico City munch on street tacos into the wee hours of the morning. And in cities across southern India, as soon as the sun comes up, people head to work, dosas in hand.

It’s the dosa, a traditional fermented crepe popular from Mumbai to Malaysia, that I recently found myself obsessing over every time I’d get a pang of hunger day or night. I’d stumbled across The Dosa Factory — a small, luridly lit, sterile shop sandwiched between a couple of clubs and an abandoned Darque Tan — while lost near Richmond and Fountain View, and was intrigued by the Kelly green and school-bus-yellow color scheme. “The Ultimate Indian Crêpe Experience,” read the sign outside. Tired of driving in circles, I parked my car. I wanted this ultimate Indian crepe experience.

Gobi Manchurian and a slightly crispy dosa will take you away to the streets of Chennai, if only for a while.

Location Info

The Dosa Factory

5959 Richmond Ave., 160
Houston, TX 77057

Category: Restaurant

Region: Galleria


Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Masala dosa: $6.99

Chettinad spicy dosa: $7.99

Manchurian dosa: $7.99

Pizza dosa: $8.49

Onion vada (2 pieces): $2.99

Manchurian idli: $4.99

Samosa: $4.99

Gobi Manchurian: $6.49

Desserts: $4.49

Mango lassi: $2.99

Ten minutes later, I was seated at a blindingly clean white table with a dosa the size of a car windshield loosely rolled and waiting on a plate in front of me. Dosas are meant to be eaten with your hands, so I tore into it, discovering first the slightly sour flavor that comes from the fermented batter. There’s no wheat in these dosas, just rice and black lentils and a little salt, blended together and allowed to ferment before being spread on a flat griddle and cooked for less than a minute on each side. They’re thin and crispy around the lacy edges and soft and pliable in the center, where anything from traditional masala to pizza sauce and cheese is stuffed.

Eventually, I reached the mushy yellow potato filling in the center, dotted with bright green peas, onions and flecks of orange carrot. Tearing off a piece of dosa, I dragged it though the mix and dipped it into the coconut chutney and sambar provided free at the front of the restaurant. I let the flavors mingle on my tongue — first rich tamarind and spicy chile powder, then cool coconut and mint, and, finally, earthy turmeric and cumin.

Screw hamburgers, I thought to myself, reveling in the symphony of spices. This is good street food.

The Dosa Factory has one location so far, but the owner’s goal is to begin franchising and opening Indian vegetarian fast-food restaurants across the country. Niraj Shah devised the concept while selling dosas from a food booth outside the George R. Brown Convention Center during events. Shah is already co-owner of a franchise of Sankalp: The Taste of India, located in Sugar Land, so the transition to creating his own restaurant seemed natural. What doesn’t seem as natural is the look of the place.

When the street-food concept is elevated to fast food or fast casual, you expect that it will maintain a little of the gritty street charm of a food cart, but The Dosa Factory went in the opposite direction. It’s inviting in the way that a pristine fast-food chain in a third-world country is inviting: polished laminate floors, white tables and chairs, sleek silver stripes running the length of the impossibly green walls. It looks like a foreign fast-food chain, but the decor belies the talent hidden behind those garish walls and the two viewing windows that look into the kitchen.

Friends have told me that when The Dosa Factory first opened in late September 2013, the lines were so long that it wasn’t worth the wait to sit and eat there. Now that the novelty has worn off, I’ve found myself with my choice of empty tables on each visit. There were still plenty of people in the space (all of whom appeared to be Indian, actually), but The Dosa Factory has established a rhythm to get people in and out. It helps that the employees behind the counter know the menu by heart and are eager to recommend a dosa from the list of nearly 30 varieties.

Were it not for an employee’s suggestion, I wouldn’t have discovered the chile paneer dosa, filled with small chunks of creamy Indian cheese and soy sauce-marinated bell peppers, cabbage and onions. It’s one of the more Indo-Chinese-inspired dosas on the menu, which also take inspiration from northern India (paneer tikka masala), Italy (pizza) and Mexico (cheesy fajita).

The masala dosa is most true to the cuisine of south India, where dosas originated, but it’s lacking the signature spice found in most foods from that region. For a dose of heat, try the Chettinad spicy dosa, named after a region in the state of Tamil Nadu in southeast India. Like many dishes at The Dosa Factory, it makes use of cauliflower, here grated and mixed with green beans, peas and carrots in a thick onion and garlic gravy that contains a big dose of chile powder.

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Jan 22, 2014
Tim Lester

Downtown Huntsville to host ‘largest congregation of street food vendors …

-35d0bca52020ee1d.jpgView full sizeCrave Heat is one of 11 mobile vendors scheduled to participate in Huntsville’s 2014 Street Food Season. (Image courtesy Crave Heat) 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Downtown Huntsville will play host in
2014 to what organizers are calling “the largest congregation of street food
vendors anywhere in Alabama.”

The Rocket City’s first-ever “Street Food Season” will kick
off in April and run through late October featuring 11 mobile vendors selling
tacos, cupcakes, barbecue and other on-the-go cuisine.

Downtown Huntsville Inc. CEO Chad Emerson said public street
food gatherings will be held on the third Friday of every month from 6-9 p.m. They will take place at various
private parking lots in the Meridian and Quigley downtown arts and
entertainment districts.

The first street food event of 2014 is scheduled
for Friday, April 18, near the corner of Meridian Street and Cleveland Avenue.

“The street food vendors are really fired up about this,”
Emerson told Tuesday. “We think it’s going to reach a new set of people
who may not have typically come downtown.”

The following mobile food vendors are expected to
participate: Badd Newz BBQ; Crave Heat; Dallas Mill Deli; Earth Stone
Wood Fired Pizza; Food Fighters Bustaurant; Meaux’s Sno Balls; On-On Tacos;
Peppered Pig; Piper Leaf Teas; Rocket Dogs; and Sugar Belle Cupcakes.

Emerson said all the events will feature free admission, live
music and food challenges. June will be the Battle of the Food Trucks, with the truck that sells the most winning money for its favorite charity. In July, food
vendors will compete to create the best beach-themed dishes. The Back to School
Fusion Challenge in August will offer modern takes on classic school cafeteria

“Our goal,” said Emerson, “is for downtown Huntsville to
eventually host the largest street food season of any city in the Southeast.”

In late December, the Huntsville City
Council amended the zoning ordinance to allow food trucks in most commercial
areas across the city
including downtown, John Hunt Park and Jetplex
Industrial Park near the airport.

Recommended Reading

Jan 22, 2014
Tim Lester

Listen for sizzle of Korean street food

SEOUL — On the streets here, find your next meal by listening for the sizzle. Street food is everywhere, and food carts and stalls selling a short list of foodstuffs or specializing in only one item attract long queues at all hours of the day. A pojangmacha — a Korean word that translates as “covered wagon,” and refers to a movable, street-side restaurant draped in tarps — offers more of a complete meal: set menus, a greater number of options, more complicated dishes, and, often, tables for customers.

Street food plays a significant part in Seoul’s culture. Students might stop by their favorite stall for a quick, cheap bite after school or before going out for the evening. Crowds of professionals will descend after the workday ends, and on into the night. And then there are the late comers: taxi drivers and other graveyard shift workers who appreciate a hot meal or snack, at any hour.

Marja Vongerichten, wife of celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, hosted and co-produced the 2011 TV show “Kimchi Chronicles,” a travelogue-style exploration of Korean food, including street food. Marja Vongerichten was born in Korea (her mother is Korean and her father an African-American serviceman) and adopted and raised by a family in the United States. She learned about her culture through Korean food. She is also author of a cookbook based on the series, “The Kimchi Chronicles: Korean Cooking for an American Kitchen.”

“I think street food is so popular because it’s cheap, quick, and it’s just like the flavors of home when you eat it,” says Vongerichten on the phone from New York, where she lives. “Every culture has their own street food, and it’s interesting to get the story behind what makes street foods popular. I find that in Korea, you walk around, and you end up eating about five times a day — it’s like, wow, I want to have a little bit of that!”

Continue reading below

Options range from the familiar, such as dumplings and sweet potato fries, to more exotic foods. Perhaps the most popular is tteokbokki, stubby tube-shaped rice cakes served in a sauce made with gochujang, a popular fermented hot pepper paste. This dish is endlessly variable and can incorporate many other foods, like fish cakes, vegetables, seafood, or rice.

Cristin Nelson for the Boston Globe

A pojangmacha is a Korean word that translates as “covered wagon,” and refers to a movable, street-side restaurant draped in tarps.

With noodles, the dish becomes labokki. Or, order a plate of fried foods, such as dumplings, with tteokbokki ladled over the top. Other popular dishes are chicken, beef, or pork kebabs, and soondae, stuffed intestines similar to blood sausage, which might be boiled or fried and served with a spicy red sauce.

Odeng is a fish cake served on a skewer, boiled in a light, clear broth made with kelp and anchovies. Customers sip on a cup of intensely savory broth — seen as a digestive aid — alongside the fish cakes. The snack is especially popular in winter, when the broth warms and nourishes.

Vongerichten always looks for bindaetteok, a mung bean pancake, traditional peasant food made from soaked mung beans and vegetables. “It’s one of my favorite go-to dishes,” she says. “It’s like crack in a pancake.” Her version, adapted from a friend’s mother, mixes kimchi into the mung bean batter.

Boiled silkworm larvae, another common street food, were a childhood snack for Vongerichten, who says she used to eat it by the cupful.

While filming “Kimchi Chronicles,” however, the food didn’t have the same allure. “My producer made me eat it, and it was like a ‘Fear Factor’ moment,” she says. “It tasted like bugs; it tasted like it smells. If you were to imagine what a bug smells like and tastes like, it’s exactly like that.”

Cristin Nelson for the Boston Globe

Customers line up at a pojangmacha.

Several neighborhoods in Seoul are hot spots for street food. In the Insadong neighborhood, a blend of historic and modern that is home to many art galleries and antique shops, and Myeongdong, a district known for high-end shopping and tourism, one can find plenty of good eating at carts and pojangmachas.

In Namdaemun, a large open-air market in Seoul, food carts compete with restaurants that line the market’s alleyways, which often spill out into the streets to entice customers with wonderful smells and tableaus. In the street, you can find specialties like budae jjigae, or, as it is literally translated, “army base stew.” The thick soup was invented during the Korean war, using US Army surplus rations, and usually includes hot dogs, Spam, and sometimes American cheese. Many Korean children were raised on this dish.

But if you’re looking for something just as authentic, but more exotic, go anywhere in the city and just listen for the unmistakable sounds of food cooking.

Recommended Reading

Jan 21, 2014
Kim Rivers

Village of Lewiston to hear second food truck proposal

Lewiston native, Great Foodini food truck operator,
interested in village

by Joshua Maloni

A second food truck operator is
interested in bringing mobile dining to the Village of Lewiston. Chef Michael Attardo,
owner and operator of the Great Foodini, will present his plan to trustees at
tonight’s Village Board meeting.

May, Lewiston’s Christian Willmott pitched trustees The Black
Market Food Truck,
a mobile gourmet deli sandwich unit he
drives in Buffalo. Board members were lukewarm to the idea, but didn’t reject

Attardo, who is also
a Lewiston native, and a Lewiston-Porter High School graduate, has one significant
advantage in that he’s already worked in the village, serving customers at the
Harvest Festival and the Peach Festival.

In a letter to
trustees, Attardo wrote, “Being a resident of the Lewiston area I would like to
continue serving the community with the opportunity to experience dining from a
food truck. … Food trucks are on the rise and a new hot trend of the culinary
world. Buffalo has embraced this trend and has events for food trucks to
conduct business.”

“In Niagara County, I’m the first
real food truck that’s a mobile unit, not a trailer, or one of these food
trucks that have prepared sandwiches on them,” he said by phone Monday. “Being
up in Lewiston, there’s a busy nightlife there. … I want to bring that
experience to the Lewiston area.”

Attardo is requesting a vendor
permit to operate his food truck on Center Street. He doesn’t have a set
location, but suggested he might look to use the area between the Lewiston
Village Pub and the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce office. He would
serve food year-round starting at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“With all the other restaurants
there, (earlier hours) would create competition, and I’m not looking to take
away from other local businesses in the area,” he said. “I’m looking to do
something late nights, to service a late-night crowd in Lewiston.”

Attardo, 38, and his father,
Anthony, built the Great Foodini food truck last summer. He has multiple culinary
arts degrees and studied at the Culinary Institute of America. Attardo has
worked for Guinness, Seneca Niagara Casino, the Red Coach Inn and the Bistro at
the Olde Fort Inn.

“Everything we do is from scratch
and to-order,” he said. His food truck menu includes stone-baked pizza, Cajun po’boys,
barbecue pork sandwiches, chicken Caesar wraps, salads, subs, beef-on-weck
spring roll, vegetarian dishes and appetizers. The price range is between $8
and $10.

“The portions are large,” Attardo
said, and added, “It’s not cheap food that we’re using. Going with my culinary
background, I don’t like to use cheap items and try to skimp out.”

Though he’s worked in reputable
kitchens, Attardo said, “To be in one kitchen, and one menu, it gets boring.” He
said a food truck is more exciting because the menu – and the location – can change
daily. Attardo said he looks forward to “going to different places and seeing
different people each day.”

The Village Board meeting begins
at 6 p.m. at the Red Brick Municipal Building boardroom, 145 N. Fourth St.

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