The Dim Sum Truck
Los Angeles County, California
Those of us who have enjoyed dim sum can vividly picture the shiny stainless steel dim sum cart coming up the aisle loaded with steaming hot bites of savory goodness. If you saw this 26-foot long GMC dim sum truck coming up the aisle, you’d be vividly picturing your own demise. Owner Alex Chu’s take on dim sum replaces the cart with a truck that roves Los Angeles County. L.A. has always been famous for its taco trucks (what we Boston ex-pats used to refer to as “roach coaches”), but recently these moveable feasts have been diversifying, introducing pedestrians to Korean fusion, Indian food and now dim sum. Chu has been operating the truck for about a month now, but its popularity is growing in leaps and bounds. Dim sum is typically a light Chinese meal served with afternoon tea, but Chu is introducing it to the late night party crowd who can regulate the amount of small portions that will stay down alongside their Jell-O shots, margaritas and Corona long necks.
I had a recent opportunity to meet Alex Chu and sample the tasty morsels prepared on his truck. Naturally I wanted to start with the most unusual item on the truck, which Alex informed me, was the duck taco. This dish takes the longest to prepare, but the wait is worth it. Strips of seared duck flesh sat atop a small warm tortilla nestled with red onion and pickled cucumber with a drizzle of plum hoisin sauce. The oily, dark duck meat is contrasted by the crunchiness and tang of the vegetables, and the sweet plum sauce in a profusion of textures and flavors. In preserving the spirit of the dim sum cart, I decided to try additional items one at a time, only I didn’t have to wait for the truck to pass by, just in line with the other patrons.
The second item I tried was the spicy tofu mulita, a mini-quesadilla filled with chopped tofu, Monterrey jack cheese and a spicy chili sauce sandwiched between two of the aforementioned tortillas and topped with shredded cabbage. I was slightly confused by the texture of the tofu and cheese together, and although tofu (the non-stinky variety) is not in my top 10, everything seemed to work well together. I was beginning to succumb to whatever opiate was being placed in the food, besieged with the desire to try more. Fortunately dim sum is served in small portions, which makes sampling easy without overdoing it. I ordered the pork and shrimp shu mai dumplings, packed with pork, shrimp and mushrooms and steamed to perfection in a yellow skin. These sat is a shallow puddle of Alex’s “special sauce” which he hinted was oyster sauce based, the perfect dip for the golden morsels. I finished up with the lo mai gai, sticky rice with bits of pork, shrimp, sausage and mushrooms steamed in a fat lotus leaf. The leaf imparts its flavor to the rice and along with the other ingredients creates an irresistible earthy, botanical aroma. The presentation made it look like a Central American tamale, and opening the package was like Christmas in China, with all kinds of tasty bits hiding inside. Although most people don’t eat the leaf, I had to try a bite on its own to find its flavor but found that more of the flavor was in the rice.
Alex has hit upon a unique portable cuisine idea, and I’m confident the food truck concept combined with superior quality food and decent prices will have lines forming quickly – I advise checking out The Dim Sum Truck before it becomes so trendy that the wait will be in hours. After all, how many times does the dim sum cart come to you?
The Dim Sum Truck
Los Angeles County, CA
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