Friday, September 6, 2013

Ottawa Street Food (Review)

This summer, the City of Ottawa approved a new street food vending program to encourage new, convenient and culturally diverse fare on city streets. For us foodies, this meant lots and lots of new grub to experience! From oriental cuisine to Mexican treats, seasonal creations to sustainable seafood, over 60 new street food vendors have really complemented the existing mix of street vendors and have successfully satisfied this culinary duo's diverse appetites.

Lola and Riley went on a mission this summer to experience as many food carts and trucks as possible. Although many were quite delicious, we will only share with you our top favourites.

1) Ottawa Streat Gourmet
  • Cuisine: Gourmet Canadian
  • Location: Corner of Queen and O'Connor
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am until food runs out (get there early!)
Ben Baird, the renowned chef and owner of Urban Pear, uses local sourced ingredients to create a different menu each day (usually consisting of two choices). The day we went, the menu consisted of Ground Beef Sirloin Empanada served with Black Bean Salad for $12 and Veggie Tacos with Quinoa, Corn and Mushroom Filling, Cilantro, Sour Cream, Radish, Fennel, Lime and served with Bean Salad for $10. We both decided to go with the Empanada, which was ridiculously delicious! The taste and texture of the dough, including the sirloin filling, was done to perfection! We finished off the meal with a truck cookie for $1.50. The cookie of the day was Rosemary, Lemon and Pecan...a heavenly combination!

2)  [bap] by Raon Kitchen
  • Cuisine: Authentic Korean 
  • Location: Bank Street, between Slater & Albert
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00am to 3:00pm 
Raon Kitchen is a small food cart serving Bibimbap (or bap) - one of Korea's signature dishes. Bibimbap consists of a bowl of warm white rice served with marinated, cooked beef, chicken or tofu, red chili pepper paste and lightly sautéed vegetables including dark green spinach, julienned carrots, white daikon radishes, red bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms and a side of kimchee. The array of ingredients present a beautiful palate of colours, as well as create a tasty combination. We went with the chicken bap for $7.50, which definitely satisfied our lunchtime craving!

3) Ad Mare
  • Cuisine: Gourmet seafood
  • Location: Corner of Slater & O'Connor
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 2:00pm
Parents Mario and Miriam Burke are the masterminds behind this gourmet seafood truck, which prides itself on fresh, sustainable fish and seafood. The signature dishes include fish & chips, fish tacos and lobster rolls (which are rumoured to be the best in Ottawa)! They also offer a variety of daily specials such as crab cakes, seafood chowder, vietnamese shrimp rolls, seafood salad, salmon burgers and shrimp po'boys. Riley went with the classic fish tacos for $10, and Lola tried the salmon burger for $12. While the salmon burger was scrumptious, the fish tacos stole the show! Served with a side of fresh chips and slaw, the tacos hit the spot and were absolutely delicious! The fish tacos were one of Riley's favourite street food vendor meals all summer! But be ready to wait in a long line to taste this remarkable up before 11:30am or after 1:00pm to avoid the rush.

4) Dosa Inc.
  • Cuisine: South Indian crepes
  • Location: Somerset and Lyon
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 2:00pm
Owner Jake Thomas has successfully injected a little Southern India into downtown Ottawa with his menu of dosas. A dosa is simply a type of crepe or pancake made from rice batter and lentils. The menu consists of an eclectic selection of nine dosa creations. We went with the classic Masala Dosa, which was filled with potato, mixed vegetables and spices, and served with a side of sambar (vegetable soup), chutney and plantain chips for $7. The filling was flavourful and the dough was light and crispy. Other options included a Californian Dosa filled with spinach, tomato, olives and feta cheese, or the Gooey Gouzenko Dosa filled with spiced cabbage, mushrooms and cheese. We paired the meal with a traditional Mango Lassi, a perfect combination of cool and sweet.

5) Angry Dragonz
  • Cuisine: Asian Fusion
  • Location: Corner of Gloucestor and Lyon
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 2:00pm
As the truck clearly advertises, Angry Dragonz is Asian Fusion with a twist. The menu features a range of classic Asian dishes, such as egg rolls, Pad Thai, General Tao Chicken, chicken and beef skewers, as well as other specialities like the 'Dragonz Bowls' (hot rice topped with cold shredded seasonal vegetables, grilled meats and sauces) and 'Dragon Puffs' (Hong-Kong style sweet waffles). The menu, in our opinion, is too large for a food truck, which only amplifies the long wait in line. Regardless, we stuck it out and we both tried the Chicken Panang for $8 and an egg roll for $1. It was delicious, fragrant and had just the right amount of heat. Overall, the food was great, but be prepared to spend at least in 45 minutes in line! 

6) Trailer Pork Boys
  • Cuisine: Southern Barbecue
  • Location: 1272 Carling Avenue; Corner of Carling and Merivale 
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 7:00pm & Sat 11:30am to 6:00pm 

The boys of this pork lovers food truck continue to impress and fill hungry tummies with their pulled pork, Cuban and grilled cheese sandwiches, schnitzel, pulled pork poutine, and ribs. The portions are definitely larger than we would normally eat during lunch, but the bold and unique flavors won't let you leave anything behind. The pulled pork sandwich ($7) was highly recommended, so we didn't have any hesitation when ordering. The pork was marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce, topped with delicious creamy coleslaw. We've had a few pulled pork dishes in the Southern states before and these guys have definitely topped our list of the best!! 

7) Stone Soup Foodworks
  • Cuisine: Local and sustainable soups, salads and sandwiches  
  • Location: Currently at the University of Ottawa Campus 
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00am to 4:00pm 
The Stone Soup Foodworks truck is a convertible solar chip truck serving local and sustainable foods. Their menu changes daily but you can expect a delicious soup, salad and sandwich option each day. They appeal to the Westboro/Hintonburg crowd during the summer, but they move to the University of Ottawa campus once school starts in the Fall to offer different cuisine to students trying to avoid the freshman fifteen. The daily special when we went was a bulgur and walnut vegetarian burger with blue cheese, pears and dijon mustard, served with a delicious side salad. The flavors were bold and so fitting for the first cold day of September. Definitely try this truck if you're wandering around UofO on your lunch break.

Other food carts and trucks worth trying:
  • Urban Cowboy, Texan, Bank and Glen
  • Red Roaster, Rotisserie, Bank and Clemow
  • Leroy's Detroit Style Soul Food, American Soul Food, Courtwood and Woodward
  • Mr. Churritos, Churros, O'Connor and Sparks
  • BOBITES, Organic Baked Potatoes, Metcalfe and Sparks 

    Also, be sure to check out the 1st Annual Ottawa Food Truck Rally on Saturday September 28th from 12pm to 4pm on the corner of Rochester and Pamilla (in the heart of Little Italy). The rally will feature a number of Ottawa food trucks in culinary competition with one another. Best part of the event – it supports a scholarship for an Ottawa Community Housing tenant wanting to attend the Culinary Arts program at Algonquin. Small plates will go for $4 and larger plates for $6. For more information check out the following link:

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