In case you missed it, here are my thoughts on the inaugural Monterey Street Food Festival that appeared in Thursday’s Go! section of the Monterey Herald. I’ll be reposting my reviews and stories from my weekly column for the Herald here on my blog along with extra photos that didn’t appear in print.
Saturday afternoon saw the debut of the Monterey Street Food Festival. When the clock struck noon, foodies of all sorts converged on food trucks at the fairgrounds.
Most of the trucks offered Asian fare — Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese — but all-American favorites like tri-tip and Maine lobster were represented, too.
I had a mad craving for lumpia when I arrived, so I made a beeline for the Hapa SF truck (San Francisco, twitter.com/HapaSF). This colorful truck is a staple of Bay Area food truck gatherings, where foodies eagerly line up for chef William Pilz’s modern Filipino cuisine.
The chicken adobo ($7) included a generous portion of tender chicken, a leg and thigh seasoned with a hint of spicy adobo and served over delicate jasmine rice.
The sisig tacos (two for $6, three for $8) were great. Chunks of lime and soy-braised pork were topped with crisp vegetable toppings — avocado, cilantro and radish, this time.
But the lumpia “Shanghai” (seven pieces for $5) proved to be my favorite. The lumpia were perfectly golden, lightly fried with a little crunch outside and tender ground pork, water chestnuts and carrots inside.
Seoul on Wheels (San Francisco, twitter.com/seoulonwheels) brought a twist on Korean food to the festival.
My friends and I shared a heaping order of Seoul fries ($8). The crispy fries were topped with tons of spicy pork and chile sauce — a clever nod to good old-fashioned chili fries.
The menu of banh mi and other Vietnamese specialties at O Mi Ninja (San Jose, twitter.com/omininjasj) piqued my curiosity.
The ninja banh mi ($9) was a marvel of meat with pork, bacon and steak. And yet I found it a little lacking in flavor. I wanted more spice, more heat.
The accompanying “ninja” sauce (25 cents) added a good kick, but at the expense of overpowering the sandwich’s subtle flavors.
Shack Mobile (Redwood City, twitter.com/lobstershack) had the longest lines of any truck. This behemoth of a truck was preparing Maine lobster to order. I braved that line and waited for about 30 minutes just to order.
Was the wait worth it?
Honestly, I was a little disappointed by the Maine lobster sandwich ($17). But the lobster macaroni and cheese ($17, or $9 for a half-order) was delicious, with several big chunks of lobster on top of gooey cheese and pasta.
The Cosmic American Voodoo Van (San Francisco, twitter.com/voodoovan) had the other trucks beat when it came to dessert.
The Kong ($6) certainly was king — a dessert sandwich made with salted bananas, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, then coated in Cocoa Krispies. Yum!
The Monterey Street Food Festival was a fun opportunity to try out some new food trucks from the Bay Area. But it wasn’t without some hiccups — understandable for a new event.
For a food truck festival, the event was lacking in, well, food trucks. By my count, there were just seven trucks — a noble start for a first-time event, but a little anemic compared to Bay Area street food events.
If there’s a sequel to the Monterey Street Food Festival, I hope they’re able to attract more trucks. The major food truck festivals in the Bay Area like Off The Grid, Eat Real or MVBL Feast thrive because they offer a large number of trucks dishing out a diverse selection of different cuisines.
(And adding a couple more trucks would probably mitigate the long lines foodies suffered through on Saturday.)
While Saturday’s event was a little rough around the edges, it was great fun to spend a sunny Saturday elbow to elbow with fellow foodies munching on some delicious street food.