I went to Disneyland the summer that the Indiana Jones ride opened. This required extensive strategy: do we go for Indy first, knowing that everyone else will too; go to Space Mountain while everyone rushes to Indy; or just put off Indy until the night? Ultimately, we decided that Indy was the most important ride, the raison d’etre for our jaunt to Disneyland that day. And so it was Indiana Jones, then everything else.
I say that so that you know what I mean when I say: Chef Ludo Lefebvre‘s fried chicken truck was the Indiana Jones at the downtown LA Street Food Fest on Saturday. It was the raison d’etre for going to the festival for many; everyone, it seems, was strategizing their entire day around Ludo’s fried chicken. And for those lucky enough to get their eager hands on the crispy, succulent, juicy, delicious chicken, it was a near revelation, like having KyoChon for the first time.
I say “lucky enough,” because, as the day wore on, an unmanageable amount of people poured into the festival. Determining what line belonged to which truck was just as impossible as trying to find which one of the wires behind my television belongs to my Wii. My sister stood in line for an hour before finally scoring at Dogzilla – Japanese-styled hot dogs reminiscent of Vancouver’s JapaDogs. Her friends waited at other trucks to bring back other foods for their group to sample. This divide and conquer strategy was the only way to go, but turned out to be a bit like shooting oneself in the collective foot: as people ordered enough food for their respective parties, the already lengthy wait times increased considerably.
On the flip side, it was not easy to be in the trucks serving to the impatient masses, either. A few truck owners were kind – oh, so very kind – to let me into their already cramped trucks to snap a few photos of their hard work. These are hot quarters with barely any room for elbows. It’s a wonder that they got the food out as relatively fast as they did. Inside a few trucks, including Ludo’s, after the jump.
It was hot frying all that chicken in the Ludo truck, but the staff was a happy, excited bunch. One thing I appreciated later on was the fact that someone from their truck routinely came out to update the line on the estimated wait time. Just like at Disneyland, and on the freeway.
The best thing to follow Ludo’s fried chicken was a sweet treat. Good thing the Sweets Truck was nearby.
The best name for a food truck, bar none, is India Jones Chow Truck. The Indian food truck is cramped but, once inside, less crowded than the other trucks. This is perfect for making frankies and samosa spring rolls.
Overall, the Ludo fried chicken was my favorite, followed closely by Sabor de Bahia’s ball of fried black eye peas (at right). Never heard of Sabor de Bahia? It’s not a new, Twittering food truck – no, it’s one of Palms’ best kept secrets. A little catering company that is family owned and run, Street Gourmet LA has an excellent pictorial of the process of making this Brazilian treat here.
In general, I wished that there could have been many more trucks circa-before Kogi (and don’t me wrong, I love me some Kogi sliders), because, while trucks that take their blowtorch and fuse ethnic food together, street food existed long before vendrification. And, while we’re wish-listing, ideas for improving on an otherwise excellent and very welcome idea: pre-sale tickets; some sort of Fast Pass system; and a two-day affair instead of just one. It’s supposed to be a festival. Let’s fest.