Food Truck 6-Seat Restaurant & More

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Dr of BBQ
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2011/09/28 19:52:54 (permalink)

Food Truck 6-Seat Restaurant & More

Food Truck Pioneer Opening 6-Seat Restaurant Phillip Foss has a new restaurant concept up his sleeve.







Chef Phillip Foss is known for having a sense of humor -- and for being innovative -- so his latest project should come as no surprise to foodies familiar with his work.

Foss announced plans Thursday for a new restaurant concept called EL (ELevated Ideas in Cuisine).
The restaurant is scheduled to open July 7 on an "unassuming dead end street on the edge of Pilsen" (2419 W. 14th St). It will have only six chairs in the dining room and a single 6 p.m. seating on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.
 
Foss is offering tasting menus only at the byob restaurant. Reservations will be handled via a lottery system by emailing reservations@ELideas.com
 
The latest menus will be featured at www.thepickledtongue.com.
Foss is the former chef at Lockwood restaurant and currently operates the Meatyballs mobile food truck.



Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/the-scene/food-drink/123581754.html#ixzz1ZIJ4x2ME
post edited by Dr of BBQ - 2011/09/28 20:11:17
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    Dr of BBQ
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:Food Truck 6-Seat Restaurant 2011/09/28 20:09:16 (permalink)
    All in the Indian Food Truck Family
    Photo: J.C. Reid: Mr. Vinod Mehra welcomes you to his food truck
     
    The sign on the food truck parked next to a Valero gas station in the hinterlands of northwest Houston reads, "The Original Desi Dhaba." I found this to be a curious statement. I mean, in order for something to be original, there has to be more than one, right? And there aren't a lot of dhabas in Houston. A dhaba is a traditional roadside food stand of northern India that, depending on who you ask, serves either the most dreadful and dangerous, or the most delicious and authentic, Indian street food.
     
    I had ventured far north on Veteran's Memorial Drive to specifically check out this truck. The food truck craze sweeping through cities like New York, Los Angeles and Austin was slowly making its way to Houston. There had already been several high profile successes and failures of "gourmet" food trucks in Houston and I wondered what makes a food truck successful. I wanted to find a food truck in Houston that was both successful and different from the ubiquitous taco trucks for which Houston is well-known.
     
    A South Asian friend of mine recommended Desi Grill and More, a food truck that's been around for several years, mostly flying under the radar, probably due to it's relative inaccessibility on a rough stretch of Veteran's Memorial near FM 1960. The first thing you notice when you pull into the parking lot is the size of the truck, one of the smallest I've ever seen. If it's a slow night, you'll also notice a South Asian man sitting in a lawn chair near the front of the truck. This is Mr. Vinod Mehra. He is the owner, host and chef of Desi Grill and More.
     
    Every time I've visited his truck, Mr. Mehra has stood up and welcomed me to his establishment. The menu features north Indian/Pakistani cuisine and often includes new or special items. Mr. Mehra is always happy to recommend dishes. After ordering, you take a seat in the slapdash seating area behind the truck. A blue tent covers an endearingly ragged collection of mismatched folding tables and reclaimed Dairy Queen-style booths. One night, a South Asian woman tended a young child laying on a flat, sofa-like day bed of woven fabric. Electric fans offer respite from the summer evening heat, and an old-school boom box blasts desi music.
     
    In terms of pure atmosphere, there are few places in Houston that can match the communal seating area of Desi Grill. Every time I visit, I strike up a conversation with fellow diners, mostly South Asian, who are more than happy to offer recommendations for Houston's best Indian dishes and restaurants. And this is one of the most important factors in a successful food truck: a seating area, small or otherwise.
     
    Unfortunately, seating areas are restricted for food trucks in the city limits of Houston. Desi Grill is located outside the city limits, and the seating area serves it well.
    Photo: J.C. Reid: Tandoori Mixed Grill Plate at Desi Grill and More
    As for the food, it's great. Mr. Mehra has worked as a Indian food chef in Houston since the 1980s. A recent dinner included an enormous Tandoori Mixed Grill Platter of moist chunks of chicken and minced lamb. Eminently soppable juices from the chicken, lamb, tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers and lime coated the bottom of the platter. Fragrant garlic naan (flatbread) arrives at the table so hot you can't touch it for a few minutes. Tearing it apart releases a cloud of steam and reveals generous chunks of sweet, tender garlic. Sopping ensues.
     
    On several visits, Mr. Mehra has stopped by my table to inquire about the meal. One night I took the opportunity to ask him about the curious tag line on his food truck.
     
    "Why do you call yourself the "original" desi dhaba?"
    "Well, a new dhaba-style truck recently opened on Highway 6 near Sugar Land."
    "Is it any good?"
    "I hope so. It's owned by my son."
    Photo: J.C. Reid: Tandoori Nite food truck
    The Tandoori Nite food truck is parked in a Phillips 66 parking lot on a stretch of Highway 6 about halfway between Interstate 10 to the north and Sugar Land to the south. It sits across the highway from the Old Hickory Barbeque Inn, and is sandwiched between a Palace Inn motel on one side and a shopping center with an African grocery store on the other. Sitting in the small seating area (it's also located outside the city limits) is a feast for the senses. Unmistakable scents of Indian spices - cumin, cardamom, turmeric - waft from the open windows of the truck as you watch the comings and goings at the gas station; the incessant whoosh of traffic on Highway 6 competes with, but never drowns out, the sound of desi music emanating from the truck.
     
    In India, dhabas are manifested as roadside food stands often associated with crossroads and truck stops. In an Indian society that still retains traces of a caste system, dhabas are known as gathering places for Indians of all castes and backgrounds. The location of Tandoori Nite truck certainly captures this spirit: a shiny new Mercedes SL roadster sits at a gas pump across from a Ford F150 with it's hood up and "Ruben's House Painting" etched on its side. Foot traffic between the Palace Inn and the gas station convenience store is constant, marked by individuals whose lives may be charitably characterized as "in transition." Novels could be written, I'm sure, of the cast of characters who flit and float through this unremarkable gas station in far west Houston.
     
    Tandoori Nite is owned by Sakun "Ginny" Mehra, the son of Vinod Mehra. As voluble and gregarious as his father is taciturn and formal, Ginny grew up in Houston and most recently worked as a service rep in an AT&T Wireless store. Several months ago he decided to join the family business and open an Indian food truck for himself. Not unexpectedly, the menu and recipes are similar to his father's truck. "My father roasts and grinds his own spices," Ginny notes, calling his father a "master chef."
     
    Everything, according to Ginny, is "fresh" and prepared daily. As noted by one of my dining companions, the presence of coriander stems and big, unseeded chunks of jalapeno in several of the dishes bears this out.
    Photo: J.C. Reid: Tandoori chicken at Tandoori Nite food truck
    As the truck's name suggests, the Tandoori chicken is a great choice here. Big pieces of bone-in chicken are liberally marinated in a yogurt and masala sauce and roasted until each piece has a slight char. On the days I visited, the chicken was moist, with a wonderful (and surprisingly high) level of spicy heat. Small cups of a bright, addictive coriander chutney are offered as a condiment.
    Photo: J.C. Reid: Butter chicken, chana masala and mutton korma at Tandoori Nite
     
    Other dishes sampled include butter chicken, chana masala and mutton korma. The korma was a standout for me, with a well-balanced sauce and fresh pieces of tender, but not mushy, lamb.
    Neither the Desi Grill nor the Tandoori Nite truck sell alcohol, but it's perfectly acceptable to go to the adjacent convenience stores and bring back a beer to drink with your dinner. Sitting at one of the picnic tables one night, lingering over the mutton korma and a bottle of Shiner Bock, I asked Ginny why he chose this location for his food truck. Was there a big South Asian community nearby?
     
    "Not really," he said. "But it's a good central location, a crossroads. There's a big South Asian community in Sugar Land, and a growing one in Katy. And the South Asian community around Hillcroft Drive is within striking distance."
     
    He also noted that he is friends with the South Asian owner of the gas station where the truck is parked. Which is another clue as to how a food truck can be successful: a support system that is both family and business oriented. The South Asian business community in Houston is well-organized, and a good relationship with a property owner is one of the biggest factors in the success of a food truck.
     
    Ultimately, there are many factors in a food truck's success: a cuisine and culture with a tradition of street food, a strong family and business support system, advantageous government regulations, and, most importantly, great food made with care and sincerity. Would-be food truck entrepreneurs riding the crest of the wave into Houston would be wise to take notice of the success of the Mehra Indian food truck family.
     
    Desi Grill and More
    12672 Veterans Memorial Dr.
    Houston, TX 77014
    832.798.8196
    Open 7 days a week - 6pm to midnite
    Tandoori Nite
    7821 Hwy 6 South
    Houston, TX 77083
    713.852.7642
    Open 6 days a week - 5:30pm to midnite
    Closed Tuesday
    If you are driving far to visit these trucks, I recommend calling ahead to make sure they are open and confirm what time they are closing. Both trucks are 100% halal.


    #2
    Dr of BBQ
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:Food Truck 6-Seat Restaurant 2011/09/28 20:20:30 (permalink)
    Last December, Robb Walsh, a Beard-award winning food writer from the Houston Press, contacted me about a project he was working on. You’ll notice one of his books has regularly been featured on my site in the left column. I own several of his books and respect his work a lot, so I was honored to have him contact me — to even know who I am.
     
    The project? Taco trucks outside the southwest, how they provide “formerly virgin taco territories” the opportunity for some truly authentic comida — an article for Gourmet Magazine. Would I like to help? Hell, yeah.

     
    http://extramsg.com/portl...-taco-truck-directory/
    #3
    MobileCuisine
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    Re:Food Truck 6-Seat Restaurant 2011/09/28 21:31:04 (permalink)
    Chef Foss is a great guy, but since this summer really doesn't spend much time with his trucks anymore.
     
    It's understandable that he was busy working on EL. I give him credit though, he has hired three good guys to operate his 3 Meatyball mobiles.
     
    -MC
    #4
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