Forget Bricks and Mortar – The Food Truck Has Arrived, Vastly Improved!

FukuBurger Food Truck - Las Vegas

Beyond bricks and mortar has definitely been a theme for 2010 and will most likely continue – food trucks have been more popular than ever before – and more gourmet.  No longer does it provide a hotdog at the corner of 49th and 6th – now it offers Mexican Tacos, Asian delicacies, cupcakes and even French crepes.  No doubt the Food Network’s show “The Great Food Truck Race,” has helped bring this into the mainstream.  There’s also been an underground social media movement fueling the trend – a club like atmosphere where only those in the know have the ability to find the goods.  Mark Sandoval, executive chef of Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio in Las Vegas has seen this trend here and also in his former home of Sonoma, California.  “One of the trends that I’m seeing now in Vegas is we have a lot of mobile food trucks — something that’s growing more and more. There is a couple from the Tao Group, for instance, that has its own truck and is preparing Asian-inspired burgers that are almost like a White Castle size. They are not sliders, but they are kind of in between. They basically put together this concept and they are doing phenomenally well with it,” said Sandoval. In Sonoma Sandoval and his team frequented a truck that made multiple types of types of tacos, including cabeza, lengua asada, pork and shrimp. We sought out the Vegas food truck he mentioned, Fukuburger, the new powerhouse in Vegas, and confirmed that as evidenced by Sandoval it has been all the rage for locals and chefs alike.

The Fukuburger TruckThe Fukuburger Truck, Photo Credit: Jet Tila, executive chef Wazuzu

The trucks in general have been driving traffic by word of mouth, of course, but also social media.  We spoke with Colin Fukanaga, co-owner of Fukuburger in detail and he explained, “The major driving factor for figuring out where we are going to be ended up being twitter. It is a really interactive tool. We get a lot of requests, but we usually stick to Chinatown on Spring Mountain next to the Bank of America. Our motif is Chinatown and Asian-influenced cuisine. That has been really good for us. We don’t like to play hide and go seek. Our customers like to know where we are going to be.”

What those who are not privy to social media, otherwise are living under a rock, don’t realize is that Fukuburger has a secret menu that can be ordered daily.  Customers discuss their creations on Facebook and Twitter and seek to have a menu item named after them.   Secret menu items include a creation of Japanese rice, a fuku patty, a fried egg and homemade brown gravy sprinkled with Japanese sea salt and bonito (dried fish flakes).  The truck serves dessert too in the form of Japanese shaved ice (kakigori) with different flavored syrups.

“Almost every Asian culture has a shaved ice. The Japanese shaved ice is called kakigori and we have different flavored syrups that get changed around. It’s something that I always wanted to do. Growing up in L.A., I always used to get kakigori. It reminds me of when I was a kid,” Fukanaga told us.

If you’re in the mood for dessert though – there are a new breed of cupcake trucks which have all discovered the same social media platform that Fukanaga has mastered – Twitter.  They post their locations on twitter and the customers arrive.  One of the more interesting trucks TravelsinTaste has seen is Sprinkles, the haute cupcakery in Los Angeles, which recently launched its own version of the dessert truck, Sprinklesmobile. Sprinkles is keeping up their posh Beverly Hills image in a 22-foot customized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The van holds up to 1,500 of the bakery’s standard flavors daily.  Nothing like traveling in style…