>Chomp Chomp Nation — a slice of Singapore on wheels


Sloppy Joe slider

**You can find an abridged version of this on OC Register’s Food Frenzy**

I grew up in Malaysia and every year, during spring break, my parents would pack us onto an airplane and our family would spend a week in Singapore. My parents had lots of friends there one of whom were my godparents. Whenever they would get together, all they would do is eat and shop, mostly Chinese food, but some of the time we would eat at hawker stalls.

When I got older, I visited the hawker stalls more frequently and my favorite foods would be the popiah, Hokkien mee, Hainan chicken rice, curry laksa and sambal stingray. I remember while finishing up high school in Hong Kong, our senior class trip was to Singapore and Malaysia and I reveled in all the wonderful foods of my childhood when we all embarked on the hawker center for some locale fare.

Since moving to the US a little over a decade ago, it’s been nothing short of a miracle trying to find authentic southeast Asian fare. These days if I’m craving something, I’ll either have to rely on friends to cook it, or slave away at the stove myself.

When I heard about Chomp Chomp Nation a few months ago I was both intrigued and excited. A food truck serving Singaporean hawker food? I immediately started following them on Twitter and then on their second day out, I was on them like a hawk stalks its prey.

Singaporean crab slider

Owners Shaun Ng, a native Singaporean, and his partner Robert Zuetell (with Robert’s wife Gina at the kitchen’s helm) run Chomp Chomp Nation. Their vision is to bring a taste of Singaporean street food to the people of southern California. The truck’s motto clearly states “Street hawker food with an American twist” and once I understood that concept, I think I enjoyed them better. I was expecting Singaporean hawker food and I think the first time, with those expectations, I was disappointed.

To date, I’ve tried them on about five occasions and I’ve now sampled everything on the menu. Let’s start with the Sloppy Joe slider, a sandwich using rendang as its basis. This thick, rich, beef dish is seasoned with predominantly a mix of including galangal, lemongrass, chili, and coconut milk. I make this at home so I know exactly how much time and effort is put into it so I am hunbled that a truck can turn out rendang like this without the fittings of a complete kitchen.

I like the flavor of the rendang although texturally, it isn’t what rendant should be, but then again, it’s an American twist on Singaporean food whereby the rendang is topped with Tiger slaw, a mix of carrots, cabbage, and Asian vegetables like daikon and papaya giving it a more eastern flavor.

Singapore crab slider is a crabcake topped with Sinagporean style chili sauce and although I liked it as a crabcake, I was expecting the chili crab I had grown up eating and it was difficult to make my brain to process this differently. I know a lot of my friends really love this slider, but then again, they’ve never had chili crab in Singapore before *wink*

chicken satay

My absolute favorite on the truck are the satays. There are chicken, Wagyu beef, tofu satays and sometimes, they feature lamb satays on the specials board. The accompanying peanut sauce is very authentic! It is some of the best I’ve ever tasted! In fact, I could just eat this with the lontong (coconut rice cubes) they have. Honestly, hardly any southeast Asian restaurants in southern California serves lontong with their satays and these are something I associate satay with. In Malaysia, every order of satay is accompanied with lontong and frankly, it’s my favorite part, especially when the peanut sauce is as good as this one.

Wagyu beef is tender, chicken is also good. Vegetarians can enjoy tofu satays with that delicious peanut sauce.

But that’s not all. Don’t leave without trying some of the desserts. Singapore S’mores uses nutella sandwiched between toast and drizzled with a coconut syrup and topped with coconut whipped cream.

French Toast

French toast Singaporean style is toast smothered with kaya, a coconut jam that is readily available in southeast Asia and as ubiquitous as Vegemite in Australia and maple syrup to pancakes here in north America. This sweet, gooey, coconut paste on toast, drizzled with condensed milk and served with fresh seasonal fruit is a twist on the breakfasts I remember my nanny would secretly slip me because my mother did not approve of it. My breakfasts were not as elaborate as this of course– I didn’t get any seasonal fruit on mine, just toast slathered with kaya.

The truck is always adding new items to the menu and experimenting with different ways to make the same items. On my last visit, I enjoyed the lamb slider immensely! I think that is my new favorite for now, until that is, they add something else that tickles my fancy!

Chomp Chomp Nation can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Chomp Chomp Nation (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

>Shortstop BBQ — a new way to eat barbecue


tri tip and chicken sliders

**A version of this article can be found on OC Register’s Food Frenzy**

The first time I ate off this truck was on its third day of business. The truck didn’t even have its ‘wrap-around’ yet and people were curious yet hesitant to give the newcomer a try.

I convinced my friends to share some food with me and ordered a bunch of sliders. On that particular day I thought they were just okay, slightly under-seasoned, and I made it a point to let owner Andrew Honore know what I thought.

pulled pork with creamed corn

Fast forward three to four weeks and I’m at Irvine Lanes and this time, and decided to give them another try. This time, the meat was nicely flavored and salted right, but all the sliders seemed to have the same condiments, making them taste similar regardless whether it’s pulled pork or tri tip. Again, I let them know.

Last week I found out they were parked not too far from me so I went specifically to try them out again. I’d heard that they had made some changes and I was eager to try.

I was really happy to find that the sliders all have different toppings and each meat is accompanied with its own unique condiment giving them all their on individual taste. The sliders now have taken on a character of their own and they are quite tasty!

portabello slider

The menu is simple. There are four items: pulled pork, tri tip, chicken and portabello mushroom. Sliders are $2 each and sandwiches are $5. You can also choose to have any of these toppings on an order of fries if sandwiches aren’t your thing. I like the idea of having one slider per order. Some trucks offer two sliders an order and if I don’t like a particular item, I’m forced to eat two of them instead of eating one and then having the choice of moving on to something else. At Shortstop, I can order every slider on the menu without falling into a food coma later.

loaded fries

Tri-tip with blue slaw and barbecue sauce is one of the originals and I’ve had them on every single one of my visits to the truck, and this week, I tried it in a sandwich. In the month and a half the truck’s been running, I’ve had this go from average tasting to nothing else is necessary in taste. The blue cheese is enough to give it the richness without overpowering, the barbecue sauce is not overly sweet with a tart finish which appeals to me a lot. I don’t like super sweet! This is a damn good sandwich!

Slow cooked pull pork has also had a make-over. It started off with a pickled red onion topping but is now served with delicious creamed corn and adds contrasting texture to the sandwich.

My surprising favorite is the portabello mushroom. Topped with provolone, it is so delicious I always wish I had ordered the sandwich instead because it’s bigger, but the glutton in me always wants variety hence getting one of each.

pork belly BLT

If you don’t want to eat bread, try any of these meats on French fries. The result? The same deliciousness eaten with a fork instead of fingers.

A lot has changed in a short 6 weeks, and if this is a sign of things to come I know that in another 6 weeks, they would’ve grown in leaps and bounds. I’ve definitely got my eye on them!

ShortStopBBQ can be found at Twitter and Facebook

Shortstop BBQ (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

>Drive Out Hunger Celebrity Event


On Wednesday, November 17th, between 4.30pm and 9.30pm, Drive Out Hunger, the mobile food drive is hosting a one night, gourmet food truck event in the parking lot of the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. There will be 19 gourmet food trucks, a silent auction, and 19 celebrities (confirmed so far) that will take photos and sign autographs with any donation of 10 non-perishable canned or dry goods food items.
Free Parking and Free Event Admission! They only ask that people bring food donations for Second Harvest Food Bank.

Please follow them at Twitter at:
The gourmet food trucks mentioned in my previous post will continue to act as mobile food donation sites from Nov 7-20, wherever they serve food so please don’t forget to bring donations whenever you eat at the participating food trucks.

>The Greasy Wiener — as sinful and naughty as it sounds

>Hey, I don’t particularly search out for hotdogs or burgers as a means of staple when I am contemplating what to eat, but on this particular day, I get a tweet informing me that The Greasy Wiener gourmet food truck was going to be in Irvine and if interested, to go out there and give them a try. I gathered up my trusted fellow foodie and blogger Holly (Savored) and headed out to Central Park West where we found several trucks already parked there.

I quickly searched out for The Greasy Wiener and found Adam, who had tweeted me and Holly as well to come on down to give their simple menu a shot. We chatted a little before embarking on what was to be a hell of a journey into making my taste buds whet and changing my mind forever on the humble hot dog and its counterpart, the burger — in this case, sliders.

chili cheese dogs

The menu is simple. There is the bacon chili cheese dog, or the chicken and apple sausage dog. Then there is the Iggy slider which come two to an order and topped with cheese, pickle and a special ‘secret’ sauce. If you’re a non-meat eater, well, they even have the “Hippie” which is a vegan dog especially for you. Add some fries, or, if you’re feeling REALLY brave, get the chili cheese fries. A whopping portion of fries topped with the delectable chili and cheese sauce for only $4 is enough for four or more people to share as a side. It was so good I couldn’t stop eating it even though I kept telling myself “gotta stop, gotta stop”, but I kept taking another bite.

I tend to like menus which are simple and no fuss. Really, hot dogs, burgers and fries. Straight-forward stuff! But let me tell you, when the stuff hit my mouth, there was nothing simple about it.

Iggy sliders

The bacon chili cheese dog was topped with a massive amount of grilled onions and some grilled jalapenos (I asked for mine spicy, you can get it without) making it a little difficult to bit into at first. I picked up the dog and thought about it for a bit before just giving up and taking a bite. I think I was literally a bit shocked at the mouth-explosion which happened right after I realized what had hit me. This wasn’t like any other hot dog I’ve ever had before and I thought those bacon-wrapped muthas from downtown LA were the bomb.

These hot dogs are fried which adds to the snap of the sausage but they are not over-fried where the skin shows sign of deterioration and starts wrinkling up. Oh no, these were just fried to perfection and the incredible snap of each and every bite is what is so addicting for me. You see, there are two reasons why I eat hot dogs, one of course is the flavor of the sausage portion and the other, is how much it snaps. For some reason, that snap just thrills me to no end. I can’t explain it, but it does, and the dog here has the most incredible snap I’ve ever encountered.

Next was the chicken apple sausage — okay, I’ve never been a fan of sausages mixed with apples to begin with due to its sweetness — I do NOT like sweet with my savory food —  but I’ll have to give it to them because again, the snap factor had a lot to do with how I like a dog. If you like chicken apple sausages, definitely go for this one.

chili cheese fries

Sliders, ahhh these cute lil miniature burgers which sound so adorable and tasty, but my experience with them have been a hit and miss. Why? Well, most places use King’s Hawaiian bread rolls for their sliders and if you were paying attention …. yeah, you get the picture, they’re SWEET! Up to now, my favorite sliders are those kobe ones from Drago Centro in downtown LA, but these little suckers just blew my mind.

Take freshly ground Angus and season them correctly, cooked so they are still tender and juicy, and now you assemble them with grilled onions, a fair amount of cheese, and the ‘special’ sauce and voila — positively one of the best sliders I’ve had in a long time!!

At the moment, The Greasy Wiener operates in Los Angeles and if you’re lucky they’ll stop by in OC on a whim. They are working to get an OC permit and when that happens, I’ll be first in line for more of this deliciously greasy fare.

The Greasy Wiener can be found on Facebook as well as Twitter

The Greasy Wiener (food truck) on Urbanspoon

>Komodo — first time didn’t do it for me


rendang taco

I wasn’t sure what exactly Komodo was offering really — is it Mexican? Indonesian? Singaporean? I guess there is a little of each. What caught my eye was the Indonesian offering of beef rendang in a taco. I make a mean beef rendang, or so I’ve been told, by my Indonesian friends and my Indonesian BFF’s mother no less, so I know what I’m talking about. I wanted to try it in a taco because in my mind, this would TOTALLY work, and with a cucumber salad? It could totally rock!!

Komodo taco photo by Florance Chung

I was waiting for my friends to arrive, but I was absolutely famished so I don’t pass out while waiting. I get the taco, it looks good enough, but when I looked at how pale the rendang is I knew that flavor-wise, it wasn’t going to be strong enough. I also didn’t catch the fragrant aroma it should’ve been emitting.  I took a bite and surely, there was just a hint of the rendang flavors, but boy oh boy, it should’ve been pounding out at least 10x more than what I was tasting. I liked how they even topped it with bawang goreng (fried crispy shallots), but the rendang need a hell of a lot more punch than that! There wasn’t enough sauce so the meat was a little dry — there is a lot of potential here, but right now it wasn’t doing it for me.

When my friends arrived, we also got the Komodo taco — seared skirt steak with jalapeno aioli and a Southwestern corn salad. It looked very colorful and appetizing and honestly, the corn salad was really good, but the steak was so dry (almost like jerky) that none of us wanted to eat the meat after tasting it.

meatball with romesco

The other thing we tried were the meatballs with romesco sauce, which is a Spanish pepper sauce. The pork meatballs were overcooked — the outside was too brown and the entire meatball was well….. dry! The romesco sauce was perhaps a variation of traditional romesco sauce because it didn’t taste like any romesco sauce I’ve ever tasted before. On the whole, this was another item none of my party enjoyed.

I may give Komodo another try sometime later — but for now, I’m kinda licking my wounds from wasted stomach space.

You can find Komodo at their website, on Facebook or follow them on Twitter

Komodo (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

>The Lime Truck — healthy decadence on wheels

>I know what you’re thinking — not ANOTHER food truck! Well, yeah, as a matter of fact, it IS. I’d been just as curious about the Lime Truck after hearing various friends rave about it, but from previous experiences with food trucks, I decided not to go chasing them down, but rather, wait until they are in my neighborhood and then pay them a visit. As luck would have it I’ve now visited them twice! I’ve been following them on Twitter and with some friends eagerly in tow, it was an excellent way to get some grub and share.

The bright green truck stops outside the parking lot of Blackmarket Bakery‘s on Thursdays and that was my first encounter with them. Second encounter was the :Food Truck Extravaganza” which happened with just 24-hour notice at a parking lot in Irvine near the John Wayne Airport. Amazingly, tons of people showed up to sample food from five trucks and it wasn’t surprising that The Lime Truck had the most people hovered around it.

The menu had a good mix of items, and I was told that it changes daily. Salads, sandwiches, tacos, Asian fusion, the ingredients are as fresh as can be and utilizes whatever is in season. For instance, the agua fresca of the day may utilize Thai basil, from chef Jason Quinn’s parents’ garden! Or the lime, mint and jalapeno agua fresca I had the pleasure of trying on a hot sunny day — refreshing with just a little kick, or so I was told since I didn’t get the kick at all due to my high tolerance for heat.

Some of my favorite items were the beet salad which had diced beets, orange wedges, mint, walnuts, goat cheese, although at first, I wasn’t able to detect by sight the goat cheese, but it was in there — I could taste it, subtly, but couldn’t see much. It was refreshing and very reflective of what healthy, light Californian cuisine is made of.

The carnitas is a 10-hour process of slow roasted pork, and Jason uses this on the carnitas fries (pictured right) as well as the Ultimate tacos. Fries topped with a heaping portion of the carnitas, sour cream, homemade guacamole, cotija cheese and a chipotle honey drizzle was just sinfully good, and if you probe deeper you will find some sweet corn kernels hidden underneath.

The carnitas in the Ultimate taco was also very generous and topped with cabbage slaw, cotija cheese and the same chipotle honey drizzle! The taco wasn’t at all greasy and the best part was, you get all the flavors of the carnitas minus the heaviness. However, if you’ve got a few friends to share, I highly recommend going with the fries instead of the taco.

Those vegetarians or those wanting a healthier option, Organic tofu taco is good for vegetarians since it only consisted of kimchi slaw and organic tofu, or the wild rice salad (pictured left) with nuts is another delicious choice.

Carnivores, if you see filet mignon taco on the menu, GET IT! It is well worth the price! Chunks of tender filet mignon, perfectly cooked and so flavorful was nestled alongside homemade guacamole, cotija cheese, cabbage slaw and chipotle honey. Personally, I would’ve been happy with just the meat, cheese and a sprinkling of onions and cilantro, but hey, it’s healthy remember, so you get the cabbage slaw — eat your veggies!!

Cuban sandwich is also great if you love Cubanos! But The Most Interesting Sandwich in the World (pictured right) is what you want if you’re into decadence and have absolutely not concern for your weight! This grilled cheese sandwich is stuffed with mac n cheese and just the most narcissistic thing you could do in terms of food. Holly tells me that The Lime Truck’s is far better than the Grilled Cheese Truck’s version — I believe her!

The Lime Truck guys, Jason and Daniel are very personable and if they have time, are happy to talk about their concept and food with you. First time customers always get a warm welcome and repeat customers, well you know who you are and you know how you are greeted! I’m already looking forward to my next visit!

The Lime Truck, in and around Orange County. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook. Contact: Jason Quinn 949-292-6282 or Daniel Shemtob 310-710-6413

The Lime Truck on Urbanspoon