Before all of us food-loving whores were flocking to food trucks, immigrants ran the scene.
Without marketing or frills, they cooked food from their motherland and served it up to anyone with a couple bucks and a sense of adventure: construction workers, that tough-looking lady with the Stop/Slow sign on a pole, underwater welders, and anyone with a reflective vest.
But due to a number of factors, including high demand from a new generation of adventurous eaters with disposable incomes, we've got a slew of concept trucks sparking a food truck frenzy across the nation.
But let's pour out some of our 40s and reflect on all of the vendors who pioneered the movement, and those trucks following suit by still kicking it old school. At these trucks, you won't find any newfangled concoctions or the usage of trendy jargon such as fusion, foodie or artisan.
Ask many of these truck operators for their Twitter handle and you may get a strange look. But peek into their trucks and inquire about a certain spice, sauce or dish, and you will find most of them open up, excitedly spurting out the origins of a dish like prized anthropologists.
Taqueria Guadalajara: For a Westsider, a drive to the Eastside hood of Redmond is a serious commitment. But on a tip from two food-centric buddies who hail from the Guadalajara region in Mexico, I check out the 14-year old non-descript white truck run by a husband/wife duo that has become a staple at the 76 gas station on 148th just off 520. The dudes told me the $5.50 torta--a Mexican sandwich loaded with ham, sour cream, jalapenos, cilantro, onions, cheese and pork--is "what we all eat after hitting up the bars in Mexico." Also, don't miss one of the $1.25 tacos made with handmade tortillas, preferably the beef tongue.
Kurbside Grill: Chicken tikka masala and lamb kabobs are what the group of hungry Indian guys in front of me in line seem to be ordering so I follow suit. I strike up a conversation with one of them. He works at Amazon and has made his way through most of the trucks in South Lake Union, but he constantly returns to this one: "For 8 bucks, I get two entrees, a salad, rice, and a soda. Who else can beat that?"
My takeaway box is filled so high to the brim it almost tips over. If you leave here feeling hungry, you may have a problem.
I hereby nominate South Lake Union "Little India" with Shanik as Seattle's premier sit down option and Kurbside as the quick option.
Santi's Kitchen: Chef Santi Hammie is cooking up eats inspired by her childhood growing up in a small village in Indonesia. The Nasi Kuning, a dish commonly eaten at breakfast time in the East Borneo region of Indonesia, makes me want to book a ticket to Southeast Asia post haste. The tender chicken with a big ol' serving of yellow turmeric coconut rice mixed with a spicy orange-red sauce is also worth the trip. I massacred my dish, leaving only the hard-boiled egg as a witness to warn other dishes I was coming.
To the forerunners of the food truck phenomenon, we salute you.