1) Please state your name, name your food truck, the type of food you will be serving and when are you planning to officially roll out your truck??
My name is Mong Skillman. My truck is Mandoline Grill and I will be serving traditional and vegan Vietnamese fare, including banh mi, bun (vermicelli noodles), curry, cha gio (fried spring rolls), and goi cuon (fresh summer rolls). I am hoping to get the truck rolling and out by mid November 2009. (Fingers crossed…)
2) When and how did you come up with the idea of serving food in a truck and how did you decide on your menu?
Ever since I moved to Los Angeles 9 years ago from Hawaii, I’ve been trying to convince my mom to move to LA to open up a Vietnamese restaurant. The idea to serve Vietnamese food in a truck came about when Kogi started rolling around LA late last year – it seemed like an easier and less expensive route to take rather than to start immediately with a brick and mortar. My menu consists of my favorite family recipes from my mom’s restaurant, Song Huong, located in Chinatown, Honolulu, HI.
3) How has LA influenced you and your food truck and do you think it’ll be the same, for you, if you were in a different part of the country?
In my opinion, having a truck in LA makes complete sense because of the size of this city. You can constantly change your location and bring your food straight to the people. My husband and I live in Atwater Village in LA, and when we eat out, we only go to places within a 1-2 mile radius near where we live. Everyone spends so much time commuting for work/school/life, that I know, personally for us, we just want to get food somewhere that’s up the road from our house. I think the concept of bringing the food straight to the people would work in different parts of the country too.
4) Speaking of, a different part of the country, another crazy food truck spot currently is NYC. There seems to be a lot of people getting angry from all sides, newcomers, veterans and the city. Recently The Dessert Truck, a well-loved truck, was not able to renew their permit from NYC and everyone has begun to talk about the backlash. I know your truck hasn’t rolled out yet but are you afraid of these things in LA?
I’m hoping to team up with other businesses such as bars, art galleries, festivals, etc. around LA, and hopefully, create a positive environment where everyone will be able to gain from each other’s presence.
4a) Any comments on the recent trouble from the restaurants and the police on Wilshire Blvd?
It was really unfortunate what was going on with the restaurants and police on Wilshire Blvd. There seems to be less hostility towards the trucks now, which is really awesome.
5) I have noticed a lot of the food trucks are excited to see one another and to try each other’s food. Do you think that is important for this new wave of trucks? To bond together?
I love how a lot of the food trucks are bonding and rolling around town together! The other week, I was able to try a Let’s be Frank hotdog and Coolhaus ice cream sandwich, which were both parked at the Verdugo Bar together. It was a great opportunity to try foods that really complimented each other nicely, while having a paired Stone Brewing Company IPA that the Verdugo bar was serving up!
6) How do you think this new wave of food trucks is changing the food scene in LA?
I think the new wave of food trucks is changing the food scene by making new and interesting foods more accessible to different locations within LA. Especially in a city like LA where certain neighborhoods may specialize in a specific cuisine, now, a food truck specializing in that cuisine can make that food available to anyone in any area.
7) 2009 is definitely the food truck year, why do you think that is?
I think majority of the credit needs to go to Kogi for creating the new food truck scene here in 2009.
8) Do you see the food truck trend slowing down at all? What do you think will happen in 2010?
I don’t think the food truck trend will be slowing down any time soon. I think we’ll definitely see many more food trucks rolling out in 2010. It’s an opportunity for people who’ve always wanted to start their own restaurant but never quite had the means or the know how to do it.
9) Why do you think people are so fascinated with food trucks?
I think people are fascinated with food trucks because it’s giving you a whole new dining experience. Here’s an example of what someone might go through to find a food truck in his neighborhood: First, you log on to Twitter to see which food truck will be in your area for the evening. Then you drive/bike/walk to the location. As you approach the truck, you get this feeling of excitement because you can see the truck parked from a distance. Once you’ve ordered your food, you then hop on to your own Twitter and tweet about your dining experience. So it’s not just the food that you’re dealing with here, but also the chase. There’s something about not being able to have something you crave available to you at all times that makes you want it even more.
10) Let’s say there’s someone out there that has never been to a food truck and has never heard of you before. Which 1 item will you offer him/her to try off of your menu?
Everything that I’ll be offering on my truck is made from scratch (except for the baguettes) and derive from family recipes. The one thing I would recommend for everyone (non-vegan) to try is the Vietnamese chicken curry served with french baguette. We like to call it the golden sauce. 🙂
– A truck that serves Vietnamese food has always been something I thought, “if only there was a truck that serves Vietnamese food that would be awesome.” And TA-DA! Here it is even though its way over in LA it’s still pretty cool. I am super curious about this golden sauce. One of my favorite dishes to get in a Vietnamese restaurant is the beef stew with baguette. And as you can tell from my previous post that I Love Curry you know I’m gonna have to try the chicken curry.
– Mandoline Grill on Twitter