LA Street Food Fest
LA Center Studios
500 S. Beaudry Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90017
The biggest recent trend in the Los Angeles food scene is probably the revolution of the food truck. Decoratively-painted trucks serving gourmet food has been a huge success. So, why not gather 35+of them in one place to offer sampling-size versions? Well I’ll tell you why not – because too many people will want to go.
This was the problem this year, for the “1st Annual” event. Far too many people were interested in attending the event, and too many were let in. The line to enter the festival stretched for blocks, and was over an hour long at times. The lines inside weren’t much better, with lines at almost every truck nearing or over an hour.
When I first heard about this event, I figured it would be crowded, but not this crowded. I wanted to try as many new trucks as possible, including Buttermilk and Coolhaus. However, when I found out LudoBites would be making a special appearance to serve fried chicken, I knew I had to try it. Scroll down for more on Ludo.
When I first got to the area, I saw the line for entrance stretching up the block, around the corner, and as far as I could see. Wow. Luckily, a friend had waited it earlier, and got us tickets – so we went right in.
View of the crowd while inside.
It was basically a who’s-who of food trucks inside. Here were some of the highlights:
Komodo food truck.
Get shaved (ice).
This is one of the more popular trucks of the day – the Flying Pig truck.
Louks truck serving Greek, with LA Weekly food writer Jonathan Gold on the left.
Uncle Lau’s Island BBQ serving Hawaiian.
Yum Yum Bowl truck serving Thai rice bowls.
India Jones truck serving up Indian food.
Another of the more popular trucks of the day – the Grilled Cheese truck. I heard the lines for this truck were over 2 hours at times.
Slice truck serving up pizzas.
Sweets truck offering desserts and candies.
Coolhaus and their ice cream sandwiches looked very popular throughout the day, probably because it was so warm out.
Buttermilk truck. I’ve been wanting to try this truck for a little while, and finally got the chance! There was a very long line for this one as well, around 2 hours.
The condensed sampling menu on offer:
Below are the red velvet pancake bites. I thought the red velvet flavor was a little subtle, and there was nothing really special with these.
The cake donuts were fluffy on the inside, and had a nice crisp glaze on the outside. I thought these were great.
The buttermilk brick: hash browns, egg, biscuit and chorizo gravy. Definitely very savory and pretty tasty. This is some really good late-night drunk food.
I had been to Frysmith before to try their Rajas Fries and was immediately a fan. We tried a sampling of dishes here, after an approximate 2-hour wait.
The menu, served in sampling sizes:
Here, clockwise from top left, we have the Kimchi Fries, Foie Gras Fries, Sweet Po Fries, Chili Cheese Fries, and Rajas Fries.
The Kimchi and Chili Cheese Fries were the most flavorful and, basically, more exciting. The chili was very oily, however. The Sweet Po fries didn’t taste like anything really. The Foie Gras fries were disappointing. The Foie Gras mousse did not have a very strong flavor at all, and did not add much to this dish.
Last, and definitely not least, the one-time only:
The LudoBites truck, serving fried chicken. Ludovic Lefebvre, former chef of L’Orangerie and Bastide, and contestant on Top Chef Masters, no longer cooks at a permanent restaurant. Instead, he pops up at various restaurants for short periods of time, serving small plates he calls LudoBites. One of the most popular of these is his fried chicken, and this was a unique opportunity to try it. Having still remembered Ad Hoc’s chicken a couple months ago, I had to compare them.
I got in line at 1:37. The line was..long, I can’t even estimate it. A little over an hour in, one of the staff came out to the line to tell us that the line was probably another hour or so, and that when we got to the window and placed an order, they would give us a ticket to come back in another hour. What. Basically, this truck would make-or-break the festival for me, so I opted to stay in line. At about 3:30, I placed my five orders of chicken.
At 5:07, 3.5 hours after I first started waiting in line, my chicken was ready. I over-ordered.
De-boned chicken thighs are rolled up into loose balls, breaded, and fried with rosemary and (I think) thyme.
It’s served with a sweet and spicy (not really) piquillo sauce.
The first bite is just delicious. The chicken, fresh out of the fryer, is so moist and juicy. It’s a little bit fatty inside, on purpose. The breading is very crispy, and the herbs work really well with the chicken. I did not think the sauce was necessary, really, as it was just kind of sweet. Due to my over-ordering, I ended up eating 7 of these thighs. There was no way I wasn’t gonna finish all of them!
How did it compare to Ad Hoc? Very favorably, and it’s really close, but I can’t say it’s better than Ad Hoc’s. It’s actually pretty similar in terms of the herbs used, and how moist the chicken was. The chicken here was, I think, fried better (Ad Hoc’s was a bit dark), and was a little bit fattier. A very delicious chunk of meat.
In all, the first LA Street Food Fest was a success and a failure in a number of ways. The goal was to get people to try a lot of what the LA street food scene has to offer by getting all of these trucks in one space, and offering smaller-sized portions of their food. It was successful in offering that; however, the sheer number of people at the festival did not make it feasible to try as many foods as desired. Hopefully, a more efficient process will be developed and I look forward to seeing what they come up with for next year.