Street Food at the Forefront
December 10, 2009
Street food is the new black in the culinary world these days. From upgraded trucks to snazzy carts inside and outside restaurants, more and more chefs are jumping on the street food bandwagon.
There is a long term tradition of carts in fine dining, especially with classic French and Continental restaurants. An assortment of cheeses or desserts presented tableside; a whole fish filleted and boned by a deft, white-gloved pair of hands; cherries Jubilee and bananas Foster singing the brows of generations of servers. The idea of the cart or even the food truck is nothing new; it’s what’s being served from them that’s evolving.
Street food in its natural habitat is at its core indigenous cuisine. But today’s globe trotting, inquiring, and culturally diverse chefs are adapting the native and tasty fast food they know or find on the streets of Guadalajara, Singapore, Bangkok, and Mumbai. The appeal lies in street food’s inherent freshness, its cheap ingredients, quick nature, and of course eclectic caché. As Roy Choi of Los Angeles’ Kogi BBQ Truck says, “we realized that’s how people innately want to eat.”
We’ve fleshed out the ins and outs of the street food craze in three features; each taps into a different aspect and has accompanying recipes to provide further inspiration. Bringing the Street Inside focuses on restaurants that are serving street food, from Chef Patricia Yeo’s Dan Dan Mein to fish tacos from Brian Roche of La Verdad. The trucks are where it’s at for the Food Trucks feature; it includes tips and tricks from the likes of Roy Choi (Kogi BBQ), Jerome Chang (Dessert Truck), and Lev Eckster (CupcakeStop). Street Smarts gets specific to the influx of Asian concept restaurants, particularly two in New York that found their inspiration in far flung lands (China and Cambodia). Read about Chefs Ratha Chau of Num Pang and Angelo Sosa of Xie Xie thriving sandwich ventures and what drives their success.
On the topic of street food, this past weekend we attended a fundraiser in San Diego where all the big name local chefs came out to the Little Italy Mercato with a bevy of street food bites. Chef Brian Sinnott of 1500 Ocean at the Hotel del Coronado borrowed his buddy's mobile wood-burning pizza oven to pump out artisanal pizzas; Chef Trey Foshee of George's at the Cove made tacos.
We’ll be traveling to Northern California’s Bay Area soon to scout 2010 Rising Stars, so get your nominations in now!