Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mandoline Grill Vietnamese Food with a twist of Home

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Chef /Owner Mong Skillman of the Mandoline Grill Vietnamese Gourmet food truck.

Mong has always loved watching her mom cook and wanted to bring the unique flavors to Los Angeles.On February 6th, Mandoline Grill held its truck launch party at Verdugo Bar in Glassell Park. It was a crazy day for Mong Skillman who's cooking started back with her mom Hoa Thi Ho (pronunced Wa-Tee-Ho) who has owned her own Vietnamese restaurant Song Huong in Honolulu, Hawaii since 1995. Shhhhh! Don't tell Mong, but today is Mong's birthday and this article was saved to be released on her birthday October 20th. Enjoy the Special Birthday Video by Grill Em All and some fellow food truck owners below.

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The cool Mandoline Grill Logo was designed by a famous local Artist Tim Biskup

If you talk to Mong about her food or her history behind Mandoline Grill, she always says with a smile "I'm doing my mom's food." Also, the name Mandoline Grill Mong says, is to pay homage to her Mom who uses a Mandoline, which has razor sharp blades to beautifully shred and slice vegetables for Vietnamese dishes in her restaurant. Mong proudly displays one on her food truck and told me during the interview that its like carrying a piece of her mom with her. Mong's twist on Vietnamese food makes her a stand out in any crowd.

When I think of the hard working chefs who serve consistently great food and maintain great customer service, that is a very elite group of food truck owners that can meet that standard.The Mandoline Grill does this with passion and an end result of serving up some of the best Vietnamese fare in Los Angeles. Enjoy Mong's cooking demonstration video of her twist on the Vietnamese Bánh mì and food pics below.

Mong has recently changed her menu items and below we will show you and explain what new foods are cooking in the Mandoline Grill gourmet food truck. Enjoy the food pics of the 3 items we sampled.

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Grilled Pork Bánh mì: Grilled pork loin marinated in "Momma Hoa's" inspired marinade for 24 hours of love, fresh crusty french baguette bread, cucumber slices for some crunch, pickled carrots & daikon, cilantro, jalapenos for a hint of heat, mayo, and scallion oil to balance off this masterpiece. We had the non vegan mayo version.You can have the Bánh mì with beef or vegan options too. Enjoy the Bánh mì money shot above.

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Vietnamese Nachos: Vegan style-Grilled tofu over crispy tortilla chips, topped with scallions, jalapeños, mint, cilantro, and sriracha aioli for that burn. You can have this side with beef or vegan options. This side is nicely seasoned twist on Mexican nachos made the Mandoline Grill way, outstanding!

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Grilled Beef Bún: Grilled beef marinated in "Momma Hoa's" inspired marinade for 24 hours of love, over rice vermicelli noodles, mixed salad greens, cucumber slices, crushed peanuts, crispy shallots, and scallion oil with a traditional Vietnamese Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Sauce) made with a salty smack of fish sauce with a crushed thai bird chile for a hint of heat and a finish of lime to balance and wake your taste buds up.

Special Video tribute from fellow gourmet food truck owners GrillEm All Etc..: Happy Birthday Mong!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Long Beach Street Food Festival Oct 9th 2010

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Dominic Lau co Owner of Don Chow Tacos debuting their Famous Chimale

The Long Beach Street Food Festival started on a nice sunny October morning with a line of 100 plus people deep waiting to get in an hour before the gates opened at 10:30 am. I chatted with the crowd for bit and all of the people we spoke with had enjoyed the first Long Beach Food Festival back in July. The event drew in 3500 plus foodies and  raised $17,000 dollars for their local charity Adopt-A-Teacher Program through the Long Beach Junior Chamber Charitable Foundation (LBJCC Foundation). Also, LBJCC Foundation selects at least 2 recipients each academic year for scholarships.

The People seemed excited by the new food event today with great expectations. There were 28 gourmet food trucks with a variety of different ethnic cuisines available for the taking. There was an estimated 4500 plus foodies at this event which included a beer and wine garden, Classic Rock n' Roll  band called Blue Steel, and of course the gourmet food trucks. We started our day with an exclusive interview with the co chairpersons A.J. Dale and Jean Hartman who were delightful and friendly. Enjoy their video interview.

Our first stop was to meet up with new comer David Lee the owner of  The Place LA. The Place LA staff was friendly and inviting, which is always a good start to a delicious meal. We sampled 2 of the signature menu items while we interviewed David. We tried the Pastrami Cheese Burger made with a nicely season burger topped off with David's own homemade Pastrami-cured and brined beef brisket, which he boasts of being succulent and flavorful, which David makes good on his promise. The second menu item was his Kyosha, a fired egg, on top of a mountain of their homemade Pastrami with American and Swiss cheese melted in between toasted sour dough bread with a tangy smooth mustard sauce, that compliments the overall tasty sandwich. Check out the The Place LA and Tell them Big Tony Ragu sent you! Enjoy the food pics and video interview with David Lee.

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Pastrami Cheese Burger made with a nicely season burger topped off with David's own homemade Pastrami-cured and brined beef brisket.

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Kyosha, a fired egg, on top of a mountain of their homemade Pastrami with American and Swiss cheese melted in between toasted sour dough bread with a tangy smooth mustard sauce finish.

Have you ever made three wishes before and they come true. Mine were granted when we asked the food Genie for a great tasting meal for under $10, but be consistently tasty each time. Maher "Max" Ibrahim owner of the Gourmet Genie does just that, by magic you ask?, nah it just comes with experience and follow thru. Max's concept is bringing traditional Mediterranean street food to the modern tastes of angelenos. Max is a lambaholic, yes he loves lamb and when you love it that much the end result is great tasting food. We sampled a few menu items with of course Lamb! Enjoy the food pics and video interview with Max.

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Jasmine Feast- Fresh Hummus with paprika and virgin olive oil, pickles with nice vinegar and heat lip smacking pop, nicely seasoned Falafel, side of couscous, Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves), Cabbage Salad, and Baba Ghanoush. Done right!

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Merguez Sausage is a spicy Moroccan lamb sausage made with paprika, pine nuts, lamb and of course hot chilies or Harissa which is a Tunisian hot chili sauce. A nice compliment to the cool hummus flavor and subtle sour vinegar brined pickle taste to finish it off. Its a great street food snack!

When you hear the name "Gaston" you might think of the Walt Disney villain from the animated classic Beauty and The Beast. You would not be far off. The Crepes Bonaparte truck is named "Gaston" and I'm sure its a beast to drive, the beauty is Owners Danielle and Christian Murcia get to make scrumptious crepe creations from the heart of this beast. We sampled a new item called the Spicy Apple Bottoms. Despite the long line, followers praised the Crepes Bonaparte truck team. Enjoy food pic and interview with Christian Murcia.

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Spicy Apple Bottoms is cooked cinnamon apples, whip cream, and sticky gooey yummy carmel.

You might remember Janel Prator from Nana Queens of the1st season of the Great Food truck Race. I can assure you the pudding was amazing once again. We sampled the signature puddings the new PB&J and Raspberry Banana puddings, which were smooth and creamy with a nice hint of sweet. Janel is also known for her wings, but as usual she was sold out! Next time, there great too. Enjoy the food pic and video interview with Janel.

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PB&J Banana pudding-Creamy peanut butter and homemade Strawberry jam. Mmm Mmm!

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Raspberry-Sweet delicious raspberry drizzle on top of creamy smooth Banana pudding.Simply wonderful.

A special interview wrap up with 5 of LA's hottest gourmet food trucks updating us on new things happening and their overall experience at the 2nd Long Beach Street Food Festival. Its very entertaining and you will love the food items showcased in each trucks interview. Enjoy the video interviews and food!

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Friday, October 1, 2010

First Friday's in Venice, Ca at The Brig

New Flavors of Gourmet Food Trucks ride the roadway of Success!

I have always liked this picture, and I figured out why while I was looking through my memory chest. The man shown in the sign reminds me of my cousin who was a famous Italian boxer named Giacobbe or what we  kids called our uncle "Giaco"or Jacob, but the public knew him as middleweight boxing champ Jake LaMotta. He is a good man despite the controversy during his boxing life, in July he celebrated his 89th birthday. Now onto the food adventure!

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Zach Scherer Sous Chef  (LF) Chef/owner David Fune (C)
Danielle Struwe Event Coordinator (C-RT)  Chad Fune Av/owner (RT)

When I think of a gourmet food truck with classically trained chefs, the Vizzi truck team comes to mind. Their menu reflects a team of dedicated chefs that are raising the bar in normal truck fare. They have menu items such as:

  • Braised American Waygu sliders- served with a sweet Maple-Balsamic hand shredded BBQ Beef, Chimichurri-Crème Fraiché (In France crème fraiche is unpasteurized, but in the US crème fraiche (pasteurized cream method) is made 2 ways such as; To simply allow heavy cream with about a tablespoon per cup ratio of yogurt or buttermilk added. The mixture sits at room temperature for 12-24 hours. The more common method of making crème fraiche is to heat the cream first, and then add the yogurt or buttermilk to the heated cream. Again the crème fraiche sits out at room temperature for up to a day. Both French and US Methods allows the crème fraiche to be refrigerated and kept for up to about 7 days.) Sauce, with a Cilantro-Scallion finish.

  • Lavosh Chicken Piadina- Made with Jidori Chicken (Japanese term meaning "chicken of the Earth." These chickens are fresh, all-natural, no hormones, free range and eat the best feed. Jidori chickens are extremely fresh that some Japanese restaurants even serve them sashimi-style), Heirloom Tomato Salsa, Crème Fraiché-Chimichurri Sauce, Brie, Queso Fresco.

  • Statham Spaghetti-made with a Garlic Cream & Black Forest Ham Reduction that simmers for 3 hours, which I have made personally. The Fune brothers along with Zach have helped create a gourmet menu that has been received well by hungry followers. Stay tuned for their special fall revolving menu coming soon.

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Sumant Pardal of India Jones Chow truck front cover of AAA Westways Oct. 2010.
Big Congrats!!

There comes a time when you can look back at the fruits of your labor and smile proudly of an accomplishment. This is one of those times. Sumant is a humble chef who has 25 plus years of being a successful restauranteur, which runs in the family. Sumant is a chip off the old block as his father started in the restaurant business back in 48 in Jaipur, India.

You must try Sumant's Northern India fare as his menu is traditional with a twist, its a Wow! from his Frankie to his Butter Chicken, both are crowd favorites. Also, joining us was Matt Geller CEO of  So Cal MFVA, who defends, educates, and works hard for the food truck owners that we get to enjoy each day roaming the streets through his collaborative great efforts, that you will experience watching the special video interview with both Chef Sumant and Matt. I thank Chef Sumant and Matt Geller for allowing me to share this wonderful interview with all of you. Please enjoy.

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Kabob N' Roll Mediterranean truck on Abbot Kinney

The owners of Kabob N' Roll Wael (pronounced Y. L.) and Chrissy Khalil who are from Egypt serve up some of the greatest authentic Mediterranean food in LA. The menu is inspired by Wael's mom Farida who has a menu item named after her called Farida's Famous Falafel, a favorite amongst the vegan friendly folks. She can be seen greeting and serving their loyal customers at the window in the video interview below.

When you visit be sure to say Hi and tell them Big Tony Ragu sent you! Wael is very passionate about his food and his customers. He can be seen chatting with them or helping them decide what to try. Enjoy the food pic and video interview of the foods we tried.

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Farida's Falafels (LF) Chicken Kabob-well seasoned (RT) Dolmas-stuffed grape leaves (C)

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Owner Rob Ananian of Greenz on Wheelz (LF) BBQ Chicken salad is playing himself (RT)

We have been to the Greenz on Wheelz truck a few times, but caught up with them at First Friday's. Rob comes from a restaurateur's background, boasts of his vegan friendly menu, which passed the test. Rob's experience with restaurants is displayed by his creation of the signature BBQ sauce that was used in the menu items that we tried are carried at Whole Foods under the name Dee's Original. Enjoy the video interview. 

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Chinese Chicken Salad- made with romaine lettuce mix, almonds, water chestnuts, green onion, crispy noodles, sesame seeds, and finished with a rice vinegar infused tangy dressing. 

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Tuna Melt-Cheddar cheese, tomato, ortega chili with a side of BBQ.