Friday, June 4, 2010

Three New Fusion Food Trucks In San Diego - Miho, Tabe And KalBiQ

Well the title says it all but after the huge success of Kogi in Los Angeles and many others inspired from them, San Diego finally gets a few of their own.. Three in fact in a few short months time.(!)

I visited "Farm to Street" Miho Gastrotruck just today. The link provided takes you to their very well designed and organized website with menu, schedule and detailed maps. Of course one can follow them on Twitter too.

I guess they were experimenting with a new location this day - 9820 Town Centre Drive in UTC, a business park type area. Boy they couldn't have found a better spot with a large tree creating some shade and seating under it.

I'm not exactly sure how related they are to the Linkery in North Park but in terms of philosophy they seem to be sisters. Great food made fresh with a sustainable mindset where the organic ingredients are locally sourced.

The Tacos weren't going to be ready for a bit and starving I went ahead and ordered a Miho Dog ($6.50) and Potato Croquettes ($2.75). If the photo looks strange, I was sitting under a tree and placed the food under a small puddle of light leaking through. :)

The beautiful looking dog came out in not much time. A large bun, the frank grilled juicy, nice thick cut bacon, fantastic salsa and some Mayoli (made up the name). Delicious!

Reminded me of a Sonoran but without any beans. A suggestion if you ever get this is to make sure you grab one of the biodegradable forks and a few napkins. You'll need it. :)

The croquettes were piping hot. Very moist in the center almost creamy and fantastic. The aioli dip was very nice. I should've could've stopped there but I noticed the Cochinita Pibil Tacos were being served and I thought I'd try them. I can always take some back with me..? ;)

Well they were cool enough to let me taste a couple for free. In between the hot steamed corn tortillas were flavors of moist roasted pork, smoky and spicy. The meat (Niman Ranch) also had a great porky flavor while the pickled onions gave some nice tanginess at the end. And I'm not just saying cause I love receiving free stuff (haha) but these tacos were quite wonderful gems.

This is a solid truck. The friendly folks working, the food, menu, CONCEPT... I love you Miho Gastrotruck. I hope you decide to be back in the area again so I can bring along friends next time. Meanwhile I will be stalking you on Twitter. Granted I experienced them in not such a busy time, the food I really enjoyed this day I can gladly wait for.

I visited Tabe BBQ several weeks ago. I think they were the first to launch and they seem to have gotten some notable credit being SD's premier Fusion Food Truck. Oh, speaking of credit I first heard about Tabe on Darlene's My Burning Kitchen blog. Thanks Darlene!

Tabe BBQ follows along the fore mentioned Kogi concept of Korean BBQ in a Mexican taco/burrito form. I'm probably one of the last remaining seriously unhip people that haven't tried Kogi yet but I heard the Tabe folks have come up with their own original recipes.
My first visit was at their Sorrento Valley spot currently scheduled on Fridays. I ordered one each of spicy pork, bbq beef taco and a fish taco to taste a range.

At this location after you get your meal you can sit at one of the grass hills (or return back into your air-conditioned office if you work here). If my memory serves me right the one with the pineapple bits was the spicy pork. I'm not a big pineapple on my meat fan but I really enjoyed this. The citrusy salsa was very fresh tasting and overall the taco while satisfying didn't leave me with a lot of guilt feeling with generous amounts of veggies. Pork was tender, mildly spicy.

I'm pretty sure the one with the mandarin on top was the fish taco. While the pork and beef taco were lukewarm the battered fish was fried to order, crispy and hot. The salsa, veggies and sauce I thought worked well together if not on the slightly mild reserved side.

Very nice but to be a contender for best fish taco in San Diego there probably should be more fish.(?) But I felt it had potential with all the right flavors. The beef taco though good was maybe my least favorite. The marinade wasn't particularly strong and seemed to lack something. Personally for me maybe a stronger flavor, but with also a good sear and some char could help? :)

My second visit was on the Town Centre Drive location (currently scheduled on Wednesdays). I had two fish tacos, the spicy pork and tried some Tabe fries. The kitchen seems to be pretty efficient. I didn't have to wait very long even with the few people ahead of me. Maybe too efficient this day in that my fries with spices weren't very hot. They may have been batched for now they're popularly ordered up asada fries style.

I thought Tabe BBQ was overall pretty good. While I enjoy the guilt free aspect I felt the tacos could be a bit more substantial as they are on the expensive side for $2.76 each. The burrito (pork - $5.52) is the more economical way to go for a better fill.

And finally we have KalBiQ. I found their truck actually about a month ago parked empty near Engineer Rd off Convoy and was curious ever since. The advertisement didn't mention tacos so I first thought they were going to serve straight up Korean food. (Bibimbap off a truck? Heck yeah!)

But they were of course another Kogi incarnation which is great by all means since I'm all for variety and competition. The folks at KalbiQ were run by very nice people, all radiating utmost enthusiasm.(!) I tried one of each of spicy pork ($2), bulgogi beef ($2) and short ribs taco ($2.50).

Each were generous with the meat filling and this would definitely feed some hungry college students. I have to say though that I unfortunately weren't a big fan of them. The (cold) corn tortillas I felt weren't a good match with the sweeter marinated meats and the sauces (liberally used) didn't seem very well thought out, in many cases drowned and/or clashed with the meats. Again if you were a starving student this could be your cup of tea and worth a try.

All in all super excited about the creative mobile cuisine trend. Maybe one day San Diego will be thriving with them like how food carts are in Portland. One can dream! :)


KirkK said...

Hey Dennis - Haven't tried MiHo yet, but the I thought Tabe used terrible tortillas, and was waaay too sweet and KalBiQ was horrible. But heck, what do I know.... I though Kogi wasn't that great either!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kirk, Miho is a bit high but at least my options over by where I work what they offer I felt was a godsend..
Yeah Tabe seems to use the same flour tortillas that Taco Bell uses, haha. I agree their tacos are all sweet but I didn't mind it so much. I just thought they could charge two-bucks for them and still make out.
KalbiQ as nice as the people were seemed to be completely run by young kids with questionable culinary experience. I thought both the concept and execution of the tacos were amaturish. Seemed to be popular though so heck what do I know too! haha ;)

K and S said...


Darlene said...

I can't wait to try Miho and glad you had some nice things to say about them. BTW: the photo with the light streaming through is quite pretty and made me long for the Miho truck and a nice picnic spot nearby.

As for KalBiQ, cold tortillas can make or break a taco. That's unfortunate.

Chubbypanda said...

Great breakdown. I'm still not 100% on the "gourmet" food truck bandwagon. Some of them end up costing more than a sit-down restaurant.

Dennis K. said...

Hi K&S! My personal favorite drool photo are the croquettes... I could eat a dozen of them. :)

Hi Darlene! Miho wouldn't be any more than what I'd be paying at the overpriced UTC food court (I had a very mediocre $9 pho once!). So I'm pretty excited.
I think KalbiQ had more to work on than the tortillas (at least to get my business) but I'm really rooting for them.

Hi CP! Hope you're doing well!
I know what you mean. Miho has a sustainable message which to me categorizes them differently though the prices may bracket them with gourmet trucks. Also I'm glad they weren't doing Korean inspired tacos for once, haha. We need more creative entrepreneurs! I ain't it but I'd be more than happy to share my ideas to whomever, ha. ;)

Kirbie said...

I hadn't heard of Miho yet! I tried Tabe recently. I think I had a similar assessment as you: a bit sweet, but I didn't mind. Will eat them again. I've noticed that KalBiQ is in the UTC area a lot, also has been hanging out near UCSD. I haven't had a chance to check them out, but sounds like I didn't miss anything.
I haven't tried Kogi yet either, but I really want to!

Liz said...

I wasn't very impressed with Kogi. Will have to give these trucks a run since they are local

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kirbie, yeah one of these days I'll have a Kogi eventually too, haha. I definitely don't think you're missing anything with KalbiQ.

Hi Liz! Thanks for dropping by.. I thought Tabe was ok. I like Miho because of their concept. Yeah, I'd be curious to know what you think! :)