Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 5 a.m.
How do you know you're deep in the throes of food truck season in the Twin Cities? Weekday lunch hours are spent trolling Nicollet Mall for the one truck you've yet to try. Farmers market shopping trips are easily sidetracked by paper boats full of bacon-wrapped tots. You've become an expert at scouting out three inches of curb space so you can enjoy your Indurrito in the sun. The list of season-specific behaviors goes on and on. We're reveling in it while it lasts, but we did notice that this year launched significantly fewer trucks than the previous two springs. What gives? Have we reached that total truck saturation? Or are entrepreneurs just simply out of good ideas?
If it turns out that the latter is the case, we at the Hot Dish have a whole slew of ideas ripe for the Kickstarting. These are the trucks we'd most like to see hit the streets next year.
Shoyu ramen at Zen Box Izakaya
One of the loudest complaints we hear about the Twin Cities dining scene is that the ramen craze of the coasts has yet to hit. Sure, there are places we can find this iconic soup -- Moto-i
, Zen Box Izakaya
, to name a few -- but with our shining abundance of pho options, ramen is playing second fiddle. It doesn't have to be that way. We're picturing sloshing vats of tonkotsu and shoyu broth, sliced pork, egg, and veggies mise en place, fresh noodles, and a steady supply of sturdy, recyclable bowls. This ramen truck would run on the cities' hunger for rich, meaty broth and slurpable noodles, and with the way things are trending, maybe lead to a few brick-and-mortar ramen shops as well.
A Dosa King truck
Dosas -- southern India's version of a savory crepe -- are delicious, portable, and almost always gluten-free, which makes them a no-brainer for Twin Cities street food. There's a whole restaurant dedicated
to them out in Fridley, so why not put that operation on wheels and get it a little closer to one or both of our downtowns? The batter can be pre-made, stored, and then spread out on a hot griddle and cooked to order. Plus, the possibilities for fillings are limitless: curried peas and potatoes, fried homemade paneer, spicy cauliflower, chutney, and raita for dipping. Boom.
The Double Decker
We're indulging flights of fancy with this repurposed double decker bus, akin to the Double Decker Diner in Ontario (pictured above). Fill out the first level with a mobile kitchen and take it to the next level with a small seating area that opens up for plein-air dining in the summer. To complete the motif, add a menu of double decker sandwiches -- sammies sandwiched between sammies. We're already drooling over the thought of slow braised pork between two fancy grilled cheeses and a chocolate banana spread separating two jam-filled brioche sandwiches.
Pies on the Fly
Chipotle lets you build your own burritos. Subway lets you build your own sandwiches. Forever Yogurt lets you build your own fro-yo treats. We're left with one pressing question -- where the hell is the pie? At Pies on the Fly, customers can choose from a wide range of fillings, toppings, and crusts. The personal pies will be added to a super hot and fast pizza oven and ready for the eating within five minutes. And because we aren't barbarians, there will of course be local ice cream available for a la mode upgrades.
Remember when Mad Men's Pete Campbell was obsessed with the chip 'n' dip platter he and Trudy received as a wedding present? Yeah, we're channeling that obsession with an entire truck devoted to dips and dippables. We expect the classics like queso and some truly gluttonous sour cream-based recipes, but we also imagine a rotating array of unconventional, sweet and savory, hot and cold chip-and-dip combinations: Cinnamon roll crisps with a poached pear cream cheese, thick-cut bacon chips with a fig and fontina fondue, shiitake mushroom thins with a ponzu and avocado salsa. The possibilities are truly endless when our only stipulation is one item must be sturdy enough to convey another, saucier item directly to our faces.
A spread of ssam
Ssam I Am
Korean food -- and Asian street food in general
-- has been so popular of late it seems mad not to have more trucks out slanging it. Gogi Bros. is of course doing a bang-up job in that department, but the hot, hot heat of summer calls for a cool, crisp signature food item. Korean ssam, or lettuce wraps, would be economical, shareable, and a fun way to experiment with flavors and ingredients. We'd love to see a broad variety of vegetable wrapping options: local soft butter lettuces, shiso leaves, nori, and maybe something from the cabbage family. Then customers could choose from several ingredients to make their own platter of hot and cold fillings and kimchi would be just the start of the funky fermented condiment bar. A Dr. Seuss-inspired decor scheme is optional, as it may prove confusing to customers looking for a breakfast of green eggs and ham.
Various pickled things at Hoban in Eagan
All Pickled Errthang
Pickled cucumbers are tired. Their capabilities have all but been exhausted. At All Pickled Errthang, our emphasis on revolutionary pickled creations will give that old Portlandia skit
a run for its money. We're talking pickled pineapple, pickled mushrooms, pickled radishes, pickled green beans, pickled ERRTHANG.
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