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Bites of Boston: Food truck edition

Posted by Alex Pearlman  April 3, 2012 05:32 PM

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bon me truck.JPGBy Kimberly Karter

I grew up believing that all food trucks were the same -- health inspection-failing, mediocre sandwich-serving, filth-filled “roach coaches.” And maybe that was the case in the '90s, but not anymore. Today, many of these trendy trucks are essentially gourmet quick-service restaurants on wheels, and hitting up these unconventional eateries is a great way to experiment with different cuisines on the cheap.

On my food truck crawl, I ate my way through the city and scarfed down a total of five hearty entrees, one super-satisfying side, and one ultra-refreshing drink for a grand total of $37. Whether you stumble upon or seek out these trucks, you're guaranteed a great meal that will leave both your stomach and your wallet nice and full.

Bon Me: Spice-Rubbed Chicken Rice Noodle Bowl with Sesame Dressing ($6), Vietnamese Iced Coffee ($3)

Bon Me is best known for serving Vietnamese food from an attention-grabbing, bright yellow truck. Looking to order something light and fresh on a warm spring day, I opted for a noodle bowl (they offer both rice and soba noodles) with chicken and sesame dressing. And being an iced coffee lover, I ordered their unique Vietnamese Iced Coffee.

bon me noodle bowl.JPGThe rice noodles were mixed with a sesame dressing and topped with well-seasoned, tender chicken, crunchy bean sprouts, crispy carrot shreds, cabbage, and a bit of raw red onion. Sprinkled with a few black sesame seeds, the dish comes in a brown, rectangular box and with chopsticks. Though there seemed to be a lot of ingredients packed into that one box, they all worked extremely well together: The sesame had a toasty essence with a slight punch of ginger and garlic, and, wrapped around every noodle, vegetable, and piece of chicken, it made for a delicate but fulfilling lunch.

The Vietnamese Iced Coffee was unlike anything I had tried before. Rich in both color and flavor, the coffee was perfectly chilled and had a deep, warm, chocolaty flavor. The sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of the cup offset the coffee's slight bitterness. Creamy, faintly sweet, and a bit spicy, this iced coffee was definitely one of the best I've had.

Clover Truck.JPGClover (Dewey Square): Chickpea Fritter ($5)

Clover is all about providing quick, inexpensive, and healthy comfort food to its customers. During my visit, I walked up to the understated white truck, placed my order (processed on an iPhone – way cool!) for a Chickpea Fritter, and happily received the overstuffed sandwich mere minutes later.

Clover Chickpea Fritter.JPGThe whole wheat pita was filled with layers upon layers of flavor -- Israeli salad (a mix of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, lemon juice, and spices), pickled carrots, cabbage, red onion, the chickpea fritters (of course), and a drizzle of tahini and lemon sauce. Everything in this sandwich worked incredibly well together: The golden-fried fritters were tender and packed a punch of lemon, garlic, and parsley; they contrasted nicely with the pickled veggies, which offered the slightest hint of sweetness. The Israeli salad then added a necessary amount of freshness and crunch.  Enveloped by the pita, this Mediterranean-type comfort food made for a hearty lunch.

Momogoose Truck.JPGMomogoose: Spicy Tofu Sandwich ($5)

Serving food from a bright red truck, Momogoose offers a reasonably extensive menu of Southeast Asian fare. Though the Spicy Tofu Sandwich was not my first choice of dishes to order (I went late in the day, so they'd already sold out of a lot of items), the big pieces of tofu and the spicy sauce tucked into a homemade, crusty roll made for a substantial, flavorful sandwich.

Momogoose Sandwich.JPGThe tofu itself was dusted in spices and accompanied by thinly sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, and cilantro and topped with a syrupy-sweet and chili flake-infused sauce. Each bite was meaty and robust, highlighted by the fresh veggies and herbs. This sandwich is a great option for both meat-eaters and meat-“free-ers” alike.

Roxy's Truck.JPGRoxy’s Grilled Cheese: Green Muenster Grilled Cheese ($6), Truffle Fries ($4)

Having established quite a reputation on Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, I expected nothing short of a nostalgic yet inspired meal from Roxy’s. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed; Roxy’s most certainly pulled through!

I opted for the Green Muenster Grilled Cheese sandwich, served piping hot, with cheese oozing out the sides (as it should be!). The buttery, golden-grilled sourdough bread was not overly thick, but it was still substantial enough to hold the generous amount of guacamole, thick slices of smoky bacon, and tons of ooey-gooey Muenster cheese. The wonderfully creamy guacamole, with pungent accents of garlic and red onion, paired nicely with the crispy, salty slices of bacon, and the sandwich's other components didn't overpower the the melty, relatively mild Muenster.Roxy's Truffle Fries.JPG

I also decided to give the Truffle Fries a try. They were fried to a perfect golden brown, drizzled with truffle oil, and sprinkled with fresh rosemary and coarse salt.  Crispy, well seasoned (but not too salty), and with a distinct earthy flavor from the truffle oil and rosemary, these four-buck fries definitely felt like a playful yet upscale dish.

Staff Meal Truck.JPGStaff Meal: Chinese Sausage Taco ($3.50), Crab Stick Taco ($3.50)

The unassuming white truck with red lettering and the small menu (that changes daily) make it clear that Staff Meal focuses purely on the food. When I went on a Thursday afternoon, the offerings of the day were a variety of unique, inspired tacos.

The Chinese Sausage Taco was a fun fusion of two very different types of cuisine: Thinly sliced sausage was layered on a corn tortilla with egg-less fried rice, crisped rice, scallion, and a creamy, slightly sweet sauce (which I think was made with mayo and duck sauce). Like the sauce, the sausage had a slightly sweet essence, this time from Chinese Five Spice (anise, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and fennel seed). The fried rice was an interesting textural counterpart to the meaty sausage and chewy tortilla, and the raw scallions added a great crunch and a much-needed freshness to the dish.

Staff Meal Tacos.JPGThe Crab Stick Taco was an entirely different flavor experience, but equally enjoyable. Big chunks of crab were tossed in a rich, cream cheese-based sauce and topped with apple butter, crispy fried wontons, fresh scallions, and cilantro. The crab was incredibly tender and sweet and complemented by the spicy warmth of the apple butter. Scallions and brightly-flavored cilantro helped cut the sweetness of the crab.

Which local food truck dish is your favorite?

About Kimberly -- I am a self-proclaimed foodie who loves to cook and eat. In 2010, I combined my passion for culinary arts with writing and founded 'The Moonlight Baker' food blog. Ever since, I've been baking up a storm, photographing countless cakes and cookies, and indulging in way too many sweets. Let's tweet -- @bakebymoonlight!

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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