Donal Skehan: BBQ street food sensations to try at home
Away from restaurants, lively fusion dishes are served from trucks in LA
The perfect meal can be attributed to many factors that go beyond just good food. The location, the ambiance, even the decor can all be agonised over by those running even the finest of restaurants. But sometimes the best food experiences are enjoyed outside the confines of four walls. Street food has been a buzz for the past few years as many of us travelled abroad, returning home with experiences of inexpensive, authentic and mouthwatering meals enjoyed from expert vendors and pop-up restaurants perched on street corners.
The idea of food trucks is, of course, intriguing when it comes to street food. Cheap eats from cooks who care. In theory it’s a brilliant concept, best-delivered in a sunny state such as California, the birthplace of food trucks, but in practice, in a country like Ireland there are bound to be issues. It feels like we have never quite cracked the food-truck scene, which could be blamed on our indecisive weather. It’s harder to wax lyrical about a fusion taco while your face is beaten with rain.
On the first Friday of every month, as the sun sets on Venice beach, LA’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard is lined with food trucks. A regular at this event is the Kogi BBQ truck.
The godfather of the LA food-truck world (and inspiration for Jon Favreau’s film Chef) is Roy Choi, who has left quite a legacy in Los Angeles. His Korean fusion BBQ truck has been elevated to cult status, and I came across it a few weeks ago. With a menu dripping with dirty food, it’s easy to see why Americans have gone crazy for his indulgent eats.
In LA’s Korea Town, a hot spot for Mexican taco trucks, it’s not surprising to see fusion dishes like kimchi quesadillas, Korean BBQ short rib tacos, and sweet treats like the sriracha bar, a chocolate bar with a spicy sriracha ganache, crisped rice and nuts. Chow down on these indulgences, on the edge of a wall, and you’ll understand the allure of the BBQ and street food scene.