Say ‘Aloha’ to flavor
August 25, 2016
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Out of all the cuisine in America, from Californian to Creole, Pacific Islander cuisine seems oddly void from our memory. Pacific Islander food, from my perspective, blends the sweetness of St. Louis-style barbecue with the added spiciness of dishes like Mexican adobo.
Off the Grid, a collection of food trucks that park by the Belmont Caltrain Station every Monday around 5:30 p.m., recently added a new truck. This new addition, known as The Hula Truck, serves their own take on Pacific Islander cuisine.
By the time I got there, several items had already run out, meaning they were quite popular. Their food items are all fairly priced, mostly under $10, with sides being around $6. Everything can be ordered with an egg for $1 extra. The portions are extremely generous, as in you can barely finish your meal. All the food have fun and odd names, such as “Da Situation” or “The BayRitto.”
I ordered “Da Situation,” which according to their menu, is “tots topped with choice of meat, Pico de Gallo, shredded cheese, sour cream, and [their] special ‘Hula Verde’ sauce.” After reading it I expected a small platter of tots with all of that, sort of like nachos. What I got instead was a heaping pile of pork, tater tots, Pico de Gallo, cheese, Hula Verde sauce, and an egg to top it all off.
The pork was sweet, tender, and juicy. The cheese was perfect, not overwhelming but just enough to melt like a soft pillow of flavor. The tater tots were the base, like bread for a sandwich. They were crispy and crunched in your mouth, which are the two most important aspects of a perfect tater tot. The crunch resonates through the palate, loud enough to pester fellow customers. The Pico de Gallo’s crispness perfectly countered the spiciness of the Hula Verde sauce, maintaining a very fine balance of flavor. The Hula Verde was creamy and its spiciness was well-balanced with the sweet pork and Pico de Gallo.
The only criticism would be how big it is. It isn’t so much the size of the food, but the container it was put in. The container was about the size of a small takeout box, and it was filled almost to the top.
I also had the privilege to try “My Mama’s Lumpia” before it ran out, and it was worth much more than its $6 price.
The pastry filo shell was crispy and oddly enough, not soggy from the pork’s juices. The pork inside was hot, moist, and flavorful. I got about eight lumpia, each about four inches long.
I could barely stop myself from devouring them, and I honestly could have eaten them as an entrée.
All in all, The Hula Truck was an amazing experience. It’s on a level that some food trucks can’t even achieve. The food tasted fresh and not frozen, the service was quick, and everything was well worth the price. You won’t be in Hawaii, but you really won’t care if you’re eating this food.