Off The Grid
Apologies first off to those who read my posts to look for eats in Edmonton. This week (and probably next) will be about the eats I had in San Francisco this last Family Day weekend! Editing photos and making a list of posts made me realize I ate at a lot of great places over the span of 4 days – a must share!
This trip was my third visit to San Francisco: my first with my parents before my food days, the second with Sharon last July. A quick search of “food trucks” with Sharon led us to “Off the Grid“, a food truck extravaganza all year round! Every day, a variety of food trucks gather at certain points in the city to bring people delicious and quick food. Staying right at Union Square, we were in the heart of the downtown lunch crowd and made our way down the few blocks to the gathering. This time around, Joe and I stayed in the same location, and with experience, I knew it was a must-go as soon as we landed.
The trucks are located right in front of City Hall, with a small farmer’s market leading the way.
Along the side of the street, we bumped into The Chairman Truck, one of San Francisco’s best! Having already tried two of their buns with Sharon on my last visit, I knew it was worth a second!
They specialize in making tasty buns, a perfect balance of sweetness and soft dough, with great toppings. You can either have the smaller steamed version of the bun or the larger baked version. I have yet to try the baked version, something I’ll be sure to do on my fourth trip to San Francisco!
With Sharon: spicy chicken with toasted sesame purée, crunchy pickled carrots, cucumber & cilantro. I remember the chicken being a bit tough, although the flavors were bang-on! The bun is the most memorable of the components, definitely unique to the food truck.
On the left: a Coca-Cola braised pork with savoy cabbage & preserved yellow mustard seeds. Super tender pork with a tangy twist. On the right: tender pork belly with turmeric pickled daikon & green shiso. Juicy bits of pork belly, and the daikon sliced so thin, it made a perfect slaw. Although their descriptions sound like very strong flavors (yellow mustards.. tumeric..), they’re done very nicely with not one flavor overpowering another. Good balance!
At this point, we saved our stomachs for the other food trucks on the other end, only to return to The Chairman to buy another bun. Yes, they’re that good! Even the guy on the truck smiled as if this happens all too often. We ended up getting my favorite of all four that I’ve tried now: the crispy miso cured tofu with garlic-tofu mayo & baby choy sum. Whatever they use to batter that medium-firm tofu is amazing. And although I’m not usually a fan of baby choy, it worked really well with the mayo sauce. Best one of them all, despite it sounding way less appetizing! As a snack for down the road, I also ordered the chips. Might as well try as much as I can on the menu! Deep fried wonton chips sprinkled with Togarashi spices and slices of nori seaweed made this a salty snack I wouldn’t mind buying packaged in the grocery aisle. Nom nom.
Check them out if you’re down in San Francisco! Best. Truck. Ever.The Chairman
Other eats for the lunch hour: a pork taco from Senor Sisig, a Filipino-Mexican fusion truck which we saw at least 3 other times in the downtown area. Served on a 6″ corn tortilla, onions, lettuce, and a cilantro cream sauce. I think their burritos are more popular, and their Sisig fries (or nachos) sound amazing. Our taco was good, but nothing mind blasting. The cilantro cream sauce could use a little something else, and maybe a kick somewhere would be nice.Senor Sisig www.senorsisig.com
We also ordered the Cuban sandwich from Ebbett’s To Go truck, a slow roasted pulled pork along with ham, Gruyère cheese, jalapeño relish and chipotle aioli on San Francisco’s local Acme roll. The sandwich was HUGE, a meal in itself, not ideal for sampling multiple food trucks if that’s your aim. We only managed to finish 2/3 before feeling we needed a switch back to The Chairman! Great flavor though and the jalapeño relish provided the kick I was looking for in the pork taco from Senor Sisig.Ebbett’s Good To Go
Bottom line: hit up Off the Grid, no matter where it is. Some events have only a couple of trucks gathering, whereas the Friday and weekend crowds draw more trucks together (6+ trucks). They must rotate though because on both occasions, I went on a Friday lunch and there were different trucks at both events. The only criticism: you don’t know which trucks will be there unless you look up each of their vendors to see where they’re located that day. The Chairman Truck is the best and most memorable thus far, so it’s worthwhile to look that one up when you’re in the area!Off The Grid