When I heard that the Mobile Chowdown was converging on Qwest Stadium, I knew that I would be following. It was an opportunity to further expand my culinary experiences by partaking in one of the up-and-coming food trends; Street Trucks. I, like I’m sure many others, had previous misconceptions about street trucks. They were grease traps on wheels, serving hot dogs and hamburgers and other gut bombs that were going to make you feel terrible after eating them. So, I was excited to have the pre-conception blown away, and check out these gourmet kitchens on wheels.
The Seattle food truck scene seems to be up-and-coming. From what I’ve heard, not quite what LA or NY or even Portland has at this point, but steadily growing. And I’d actually heard of a few of the trucks around town, though working out in the stix on the eastside, I’ve yet to frequent any of them. That was about to change, and I was going to do it in as big a way as possible. My plan of attack was 4 trucks. I would hit the biggest three names I’d heard (Maximus Minimus, Marination Mobile, Skillet) as well as one that has exploded onto the scene (Where Ya At Matt). As I walked into the parking lot, I quickly realized I was not the only one with that plan…
When I walked in, there were trucks around the entire periphery of the Qwest Field parking lot, and there were lines of people, lots of people, at quite a few of them. I was actually shocked by the length of lines. But, I had a plan, and I was going to stick with it. I identified each of my target trucks, looked for the shortest line (figuring I could get something and just go walk to the next line), and dove in. The first place ended up being Maximus Minimus.
The first thing that you notice about Maximus Minimus is that the truck doesn’t look like most trucks…it looks like a pig. And in this case, the pig had on sunglasses. So, when your truck looks like a pig, that means pork is on the menu. When I got to the front of the line, I went for the pulled pork sandwich, and ordered a Minimus, thinking I was getting a smaller version of the sandwich (turns out that’s the spice level, and I should have gone Maximus…).
Even though the sandwich wasn’t quite as spicy as I’d like, it was fantastic none the less. The roll that it was served on was nice and firm on the outside, and nice and soft on the inside. The meat was perfectly tender and juicy, and served in a nice tangy barbeque sauce. And there was a small hint of cilantro that gave it just that extra bit of flavor. I was beyond pleased, and made short work of the sandwich.
While I was standing in line at Maximus Minimus, a couple of my friends walked over and joined me, ordering sandwiches of their own. They also let me know that they had stashed another friend in line at Where Ya At Matt, which boasted the longest line of any of the trucks. So, since he was there, it made Where Ya At the next logical choice in the night’s progression. This truck features authentic New Orleans style soul food, which means Jambilaya, Beignets, and the grand daddy of New Orleans sandwiches, the Po’Boy.
Even with our strategically placed friend, it still took about 20 minutes to get to the front of the line at Matt’s, and have the opportunity to order my Po’Boy. I was debating between the shrimp and the fried oyster the entire time, even asking Matt which I should go with (he was taking the orders).
He told me that they were both classics and I couldn’t go wrong, so I did a mental coinflip and went with the shrimp, promising to do the oyster the next time. And, you can bet there will be a next time. I got my sandwich, unwrapped it, and looked to see 8 inches of deliciousness on a roll. It was filled with fried shrimp, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and a creamy dressing which just explode in your mouth when you take a bite. The bread is crispy and flaky on the outside, but soft and tender on the inside. A combination that allows it to absorb the juices without falling apart. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and perfectly flavorful, and the acidity of the pickles complimented the sweetness of the tomato and the shrimp so well. It was just a wonderful, flavorful, and delicious sandwich. It was easy to see why there was such a long line willing to wait for such a long time.
Now, sufficiently full, but still intrigued by what was still around, I made my way over to Skillet. By this time the lines had shortened a little bit, so that it didn’t take too long to get through. At Skillet the offer was sliders
and fries. The sliders were beef sliders topped with gorgonzola and a bacon jam, and the fries were both rosemary and sea salt. It looked delicious, but after the first bite, I was actually a bit disappointed. The burger had a bit of charred/burnt flavor to it, like the flat top hadn’t really been cleaned that well. And the gorgonzola was so overwhelming that it completely coated my mouth. Then the fries were more like chips. They were crispy, which is great, but there was no potato on the inside. And they were actually kind of cold. I ended up throwing out most of the fries before heading on to my fourth and final truck.
My intention was to finish at Marination Mobile, but the line was still incredibly long, and a lot of the menu items, including the kalbi tacos, were crossed off the menu. So, I turned to another truck, starting with El Camion which had a line that rivaled Matt’s, and ultimately deciding on Fusion on the Run.
Fusion on the Run described itself as a Hawaiian fusion truck, and was offering a couple of different style of tacos. I was going to go with the KV Fusion which was marinated beef, but ended up going with the Ono tacos because they were filled with Kalua pork which is one of my favorite things. After ordering, I was told that it was going to take 20-30 minutes for food. Normally this would bother me as the idea of a food truck is quick meals, but I figured a few minutes to digest was a good thing. The order ended up being 3 tacos with the kalua pork, a mango salsa, and a “surfer” sauce. When all of the elements came together in one bite, the tacos were pretty good, but the pork was actually a bit dried out which really surprised me with kalua pork. I was also expecting a little more saltiness to balance out the sweet, but that was missing as well.
The Mobile Chowdown was awesome. It was an opportunity to sample so many different types of food, all while completely destroying any preconceived notions about street trucks and street food. It was especially good for me because I don’t really have an opportunity to try many of these trucks being out on the Eastside during the day. I was blown away by Maximus Minimus and Where Ya At Matt, while being underwhelmed by Skillet. At the same time, it has reminded me to be more open in my food decisions. For example, I’ve driven past the El Camion truck many times without stopping. I definitely have to recommend grabbing lunch at these trucks if you have a chance. I for one will be doing it when I can, and I can’t wait until the next Mobile Chowdown to try more of the trucks around the area!