Tuesday, August 16, 2011

World Street Kitchen - Minneapolis Street Food

Visited on Thursday, August 4th with Scott

World Street Kitchen

Ben's Review
Erin has been wanting me to go downtown and meet her for lunch at one of the food trucks that now exist in Minneapolis. A couple weeks ago I biked downtown from home and met her and Scott for a trip to the World Street Kitchen food truck located near 5th St and Nicollet.

I started noticing the buzz around food trucks last year when an ordinance was passed that relaxed many of the restrictions on them and they seem to have exploded this year in downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Nearly every day on twitter I see several people hitting up different food trucks and the food has looked amazing.

Since Erin works downtown she has had a chance to try several of them out and wanted me to try World Street Kitchen. I met Erin and Scott outside Erin’s building and we walked over to the truck’s location. Erin had seen that they had ran out of gas (??) and had to run to get more, so we weren’t even sure if they were operation yet, luckily they had solved their issues and were indeed serving food.

WSK helpfully twits a picture of their menu everyday, so we knew what was available before we got there. I was absolutely starving after biking in so I wanted whatever was the largest portion. Erin said the spicy beef torta was good and large, so my mind was made up. I also got a Mexican coke, as those are too good to turn down.

World Street Kitchen

The order taker at WSK also uses Square on an iPhone to accept credit card payments, which was cool to use, this was the first time I’d seen Square out in the wild. After you order you get a ticket stub and then you hang back and wait for the people in the truck to call out your number. The numbers do not appear to be sequential as they were calling out numbers all over the place.

World Street Kitchen

After what felt like a half hour we FINALLY got our numbers called and raced to get our food. I was going crazy by this point and we still had to walk to a nearby courtyard to enjoy our food.

World Street Kitchen

My torta was indeed very large and incredibly tasty. The beef was tender and juicy and it also had cheese in the pressed sandwich. The bread was kind of tough, which made it kind of battle to rip a bite out of it, but it was well worth the effort. After wolfing down my sandwich I tried some of Erin’s rice bowl which was delicious and deceptively large. Even though I was hungry as hell, the rice bowl would have done the trick just as well as the beef torta.


Spicy Beef Torta

I really enjoyed my first food truck experience and the fact that there are several more means that I’ll probably be making my way downtown for a couple more lunches this summer, especially given that I work fairly close by these days.

Service: There isn’t much service at a food truck by definition. The order taker was a friendly guy, but our food did take awhile to get, probably an isolated experience though.
Food: Excellent food and freshly made.
Drinks: WSK has some soda, water, and juices, no alcohol or hot drinks
Ambiance: You’d think this wouldn’t even apply, but there is a crowd of people milling about waiting for their food, so this actually does give some ambiance. Mostly people making small talk while straining to hear their number called.
Convenience: If you work in one of the downtowns, these are really convenient and a great way to get some lunch on a nice summer day.

Erin's Review
I've been loving the food trucks all around downtown Minneapolis this summer. I've eaten at them way too many times, but I'm trying to sample a lot of them before the cold creeps in and I don't want to leave the skyways! So far my favorite, partly due to proximity to my work, is World Street Kitchen, which is owned by the same people as Saffron. Like most food trucks, the menu changes daily depending on what they've got cooking up, but there are some staples. I've had the opportunity to visit WSK a few times, so I will report on those visits in addition to this one with Ben and Scott.

World Street Kitchen

Almost every time I've gone, unless it's before noon or after 12:45, there is a fairly significant line, but it moves quickly. This particular time it took the longest to get our food, but that could be because I think they prep a lot of similar items together and Ben and I ordered different things. Who knows. It really wasn't THAT long, we were just starving and hot so it felt like forever! At this visit, I finally decided to try the chicken yum yum rice bowl, after hearing Scott rave about the veggie bowl many times. I LOVED it - it probably was my favorite thing I've gotten there, depending on what you're in the mood for. It certainly offers the most food. It comes with a ton of basil, cilantro, rice, something crunchy (not quite sure exactly what it is but it was my favorite part), delicious and flavorful chicken, more veggies and, the proverbial cherry on top is definitely the slightly runny egg that you can mix in with everything. Seriously so good. It's been off the menu for a few days, and there has definitely been some push back from loyal fans about it on twitter!

Chicken Yum Yum Rice Bowl

Veggie Yum Yum Rice Bowl

After this particular visit, I forced Ben to walk with me ALL the way down to 10th and Nicollet (he was a bit peeved) to get a cupcake from the Cupcake food truck. In order to make this an experience worthy of a blog post, I needed to visit 2 trucks in one day :) Worth the walk, but I was still so stuffed from my rice bowl that I had to wait to eat the cupcake until later in the day. I got Lemon Raspberry, and I actually liked it a lot better than the cupcakes I've had from their main store on University, oddly enough.

Cupcake food truck

Lemon Raspberry Cupcake

Other items I have sampled on my visits to WSK are pictured below, with my brief review. Summary: I've loved everything I've had, with my tops definitely being the bahn mi and the yum yum rice bowl.

Smokey Beef Torta
Smokey Beef Torta - my first visit to WSK back in early June. This was very good - I was glad it was pulled beef versus a big slab since that's easier to eat. Also had cheese, and mine had some avocado pieces. Ben's had peppers. Ben mentioned the bread was tough - I do not remember this, and I would because I hate that, so perhaps Ben is just a pansy.

banh mi
Curry chicken banh mi - my other favorite! Everything about this is awesome. The flavorful pulled chicken, simmered in a curry sauce, the variety of crisp fresh veggies, and the soft bread that is crunchy on the exterior yet easy to bite through (my main complaint of many baguettes). This was the perfect amount of food for me. My 2nd WSK visit, only 2 days after my first :)

Chicken Pita Sandwich from WSK
Finally, the chicken pita sandwich, which I just had a few days ago. This is a new menu item, and the day after I went, they posted this explanation of it on twitter: Shawirma aka middle eastern gyros: marinated chicken, Turkish pickles, french fries and garlic sauce wrapped in pita bread.
I basically had no idea what I was getting here, so I was a bit thrown by the combination, but it was definitely good and SUPER filling.

If it's not obvious, I love this place. The street food movement has been awesome for expanding my lunch time variety - I've managed to visit quite a few so far this summer and hope to try out more before they go into hiding for the winter! A great directory of all the known food trucks can be found at MSP Street Food.

Location varies - check twitter feed for details. Typically on 5th between Nicollet and Marquette during the lunch hour