I was invited to attend the 3rd annual LA Street Food Fest on behalf of my new pal Mr. Pasadena. You can read my write up right over here. As that article gave all of the fancy logistical information I am not going to repeat it here. No, siree – I’m going to dive in straight to showing off the food. Some were a hit, some were a miss, and as it was quite possibly the hottest day of the summer yet, I had to pass up on a lot of food because it was PORK SMOTHERED IN PORK FAT DRENCHED WITH AU JUS GRAVY WRAPPED IN BACON WITH TRUFFLE OIL!
It was a touch ridiculous.
Okay, on with the show!
Curried Al Pastor Pork Belly with naan – Kings Row Gastropub
My Thoughts: The first eat of the day provided by my buddies at Kings Row. I would never, ever order this – UNTIL NOW. Holy shit was that good, and I’m not one for pork belly, either. I honestly thought this was chicken.
Jidori Potpie Chicken Poutine – Frysmith
My Thoughts: Frysmith…what happened? Last year I would have said that Frysmith provided my favorite sampling of the entire day. This concoction just did not compare. The vegetables look like they came from a frozen mix bag and the chardonnay gravy was so lackluster it may as well had not even been on there. Probably the biggest disappointment of the entire day, especially since I was expecting something as awesome as last year.
Peking Duck Slider – The Peking Duck Truck
My thoughts: The debut of this truck met with mixed emotions from the crowd. I did taste a bit of over-seasoning, particularly with salt, but I also tasted potential. Keep at it, Peking Duck Truck! I know you have it in you. Just use a conservative hand with the seasoning and let the duck speak for itself.
Glazed Pork Ears – Haven Gastropub
My thoughts: Another pork serving I was able to catch early enough before I had to throw in the towel on all things pig. I sure am pleased I did pick this up, too, because it is definitely in my top 5 favorites of the day. Sweet and crunchy with a tangerine and Fresno chili glaze, I could munch on these all day long.
Viet-Minced Beef-Tacular! – Starry Kitchen
My Thoughts: Another favorite. Actually, screw it; this was totally my favorite. I’m terribly disappointed in myself for never venturing to Starry Kitchen and they’re about close and re-launch in a few months.
Short Rib Taco – Kogi BBQ Truck
My Thoughts: My first Kogi Truck experience could not have been more perfect. Really, this would have been my favorite but I feel like that would be slightly cheating since Kogi is the King of Food Trucks for a reason. Oh, so delicious and mom gave me hers after one bite (she couldn’t take the heat). Really spectacular and lives up to their hype.
Sea Snail Toastada – Mariscos La Guerrerense
My Thoughts: Eating land snail is a bit of a no-no for me, morally speaking, but I permitted myself to indulge in its aquatic cousin. Though it was good in a squishy spicy kind of way, I am still living with the guilt. Yes, I’m weird.
Banana Bitz – Longboards Ice Cream
My Thoughts: Out of all of the out of the norm desserts this one was my favorite. Frozen banana dipped in chocolate is not precisely exotic, but toss in a peanut butter drizzle and potato chips and now we’re taking about dessert evolution!
Guayaba – Coba Aquas Fresca
My Thoughts: While on the hunt for the elusive water mom and I came upon this and really enjoyed it. She had the mango but I went with the more exotic guava flavor. Very refreshing.
Picarones – Mo-Chica
My Thoughts: This sweet potato kabocha, Peruvian beignets were awesome on their own and did not need the addition of the star-anise, cloves, cinnamon, chancaca sauce – which was honestly too sweet and tasted like plain old maple syrup anyway.
Grilled Octopus, Calabrian Sausage over Cannellini Beans, preserved lemon – Ori Menashe
My Thoughts: These good people fixed me up a bowl sans sausage but I still wanted to show off the entire dish. The octopus was a touch salty but otherwise grilled perfectly. Though I did not catch any lemon flavors, the beans were a lovely touch.
Sicilian Cannoli – Sotto
My Thoughts: My favorite sweet treat, hands down. I love me a good cannoli and this gorgeous piece of confectionery made of ricotta, orange marmalade, pistachios and chocolate really stood out for its classic simplicity.
Cielo Verde Cornet – Playa
Mom’s Thoughts: After indulging in too much rich and meaty fare, mom was desperate for some roughage and found a proverbial oasis in this little beauty made from chopped salad of rooftop vegetables and lettuces, Chipolte crema, avocado and micro amaranth.
Shrimp Taquito – Yxta Cocina Mexicano Mercado
My Thoughts: Another festival favorite. Simple. Delicious. End of story.
Strawberry Mint Lemonade Sorbet – Sweet Lucie’s
My Thoughts: Very refreshing and easy on my palate as well as my stomach. A very appreciated break from all of the exotic offerings.
Beef Tongue Curry - Fat Spoon
My Thoughts: A more generous portion than I’d have hoped for consider the nature of the event but I’ll not look a gift horse in the mouth. This was extremely flavorful and well cooked. I was actually surprised I enjoyed it so much, considering I’ve not really liked Japanese curry for a number of years because of its thick heaviness. I look forward to going to Fat Spoon in the near future.
VIEW MY ENTIRE SET ON FLICKR – See all 95 pictures I took from the event, including more food and drink not featured.
Top Five Street Food Fest Eats: Viet Mince Beef-Tacular (Starry Kitchen), Shrimp Taquito (Yxta Cocina Mexicano Mercado), Short Rib Taco (Kogi BBQ Truck), Curried Alpastor Pork (Kings Row), Glazed Pork Ears (Haven Gastropub)
Top Three Street Food Fest Sweets: Sicilian Cannoli (Sotto), Banana Bitz (Longboards Ice Cream), Strawberry Mint Lemonade Sorbet (Sweet Lucie’s)
The Event Itself
This year lacked the comfort and relaxing atmosphere of 2011, which was held on the grassy field adjacent to the Rose Bowl. Now situated on the blacktop concourse surrounding the Bowl, the heat was intensified, the vendors more spread out and it just made for a miserable combination on this sweltering day. While waiting for the media gate to open I noticed an ambulance to my immediate left already loading up some young girl into their vehicle. I don’t want assume anything about the situation – that it was related to the heat, that she might have been standing in line, in the heat, on blacktop, with no water/shade, with her family waiting for the event to open – but it was not the best of signs to kick-off the event.
I felt as if nobody from the LA Street Food Fest really gave a damn about the discomfort of their guests – particularly the VIPs, who paid $20 extra for those two hours of early admission. There was only one vendor providing water – Scion – and poorly at that, as those managing the booth seemed extraordinarily challenged at maintaining cold bottled water. My mother and I ventured to them twice – and twice we were handed extremely warm water bottles. We inquired after cold ones but the snippy girl behind the booth rudely insisted they had none.
While lines for the food were quick and efficient, alcohol still took a while and will be the next line challenge to tackle. If the organizers can show respect for the weather and plan accordingly to tend to their guests I think LA Street Food Fest could be nearly perfect. All in all, a lot of kinks to iron out but this is still definitely an event I feel has a worthy shot of becoming must-do event for Pasadena and the Southern California food scene.
For news on future events keep an eye on LA Street Food Fest official website
See you next year, Mighty Boba Man!