Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Old World Food Truck -- Jewish Soul Food at the New Mission Dispatch "Pod"

[Update: I caught up with the Old World Food Truck while they were serving pierogies at Off the Grid:5M on Wednesday the 23rd, and am happy to report the potato and cream cheese pierogies were big, plunp and luscious.  I intended to check out the corned beef (in Reuben form) which Matt Cohen praised highly to me, but had just eaten a full lunch at Matt's other project, the SF FoodLab (see above).]

A small, two or three truck food truck “pod” on a private lot isn't really something to get excited about these days, unless you happen live or work nearby. But what got me to brave the No. 9 bus to the new Mission Dispatch pod at 18th and Bryant was a new one-of-a-kind truck featured today, the Old World Food Truck. OWFT boasts “East European and and Jewish Soul Food,” or the kind of fare that kept my body and soul together 50 years ago when I lived on Manhattan's Lower East Side (in a SRO at No. 9 St. Mark's Place, to be exact).

Mission Dispatch bears a striking resemblance to The Lunch Box on Ritch Street, with space for two and possibly three trucks and a generous amount of seating, both at picnic tables and at loose chairs. It was bustling when I arrived there around 12:30, with lines of approximately equal length at the Old World Food Truck and Little Green Cyclo, which MD was also hosting today. I found the Old World Food Truck decked out in a charmingly schmaltzy décor which might be called “Fiddler on the Roof” style. The largest font on the truck proclaimed “Pierogies and Artisan Sandwiches” but, alas, they had no pierogies today. Instead, I ordered a knish to go with my “Chicken Schnitzelwich.” described elsewhere as a “Jewish Banh Mi.”

When the sandwich came, it was HUGE, with as much fried chicken as could possibly be stuffed into a banh mi-type roll. It was dressed with a pickled slaw-like topping with shredded carrots and all, and did in fact bear a resemblance to a banh mi. I ordered my sammie with a “schmear” of chopped liver (a dollar extra) and, looking back, that may have been my favorite part of the sandwich. I found the chicken, encased in a crunchy, nostalgically greasy batter, tasty but a bit on the dry side. The slaw dressing and the creamy chicken liver would have attenuated the dryness, but due to the very size of the thing I ate the top part of the bun (with the toppings) separately and left the bottom part behind. The truck's knishes have a nice flaky shell, but the savory potato and chard filling is so pillowy you'll want to ask for a fork to eat it with.

Also on the menu today was an open-faced “Texas Toast Reuben” sandwich featuring their own cured corned beef, a Brisket Borscht, a Polish Strawberry Soup and Mint Lemonade. Both the chicken sandwich (I believe I got the last one) and the reuben sold out before 1:00. I'll definitely catch up with Old World Food truck again to try the reuben, and they damn well better have the pierogies!

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