By G.A. Benton | Columbus Alive
Korean? Check. Indonesian? Check. Contemporary riffs on Jewish classics? Check.
These are some of the mobile kitchen cuisines that are driving our vanguard food truck scene past so many other left-in-the-dust cities. Joining the ranks of high achievers cooking up uncommon victuals like the aforementioned (I’m proceeding in order) Ajumama and Aromaku, is month-old Challah, whose fare is self-described as a “reinvention of Jewish comfort food.”
Challah’s cheeky logo — its name emblazoned across a ready-to-scream-into megaphone — nudges us that challah is pronounced how some East Coasters (Challah’s two-woman crew formerly lived in NYC) might say “holler.” Challah’s distinct ingredient-laden sandwiches nudged me into thinking I wanted to yell, “Damn, this is good!” into that megaphone. OK, I realize that’s impossible, but still.
Prone to pickling and smoking things for killer sandwiches enveloped by fresh, delivered daily bread products from Purple Sage Bakery (one of Challah’s owners studied under Purple Sage’s chef at the Columbus Culinary Institute), Challah smartly started off with a smallish menu it could execute expertly.
So far, my favorite munch was a knockout, sorta Jewish fish-n-chips — the only-here House Smoked Whitefish sandwich ($9). Gracing a crisply toasted, sweet and puffy challah roll were pickled, pretty candy-striped beets, an impressive, “bubbe”-like latke (golden brown, onion-kissed potato pancake with a crackly shell and creamy-yet-“meaty” center; a la carte, they’re 2/$3), plus a magnificent, super-smoky whitefish salad. Try this stunner with a house-made sour pickle ($1).
Similarly, a worth-the-finger-staining Roasted Beet Sandwich ($6) was nearly as attractive as it was delicious. On thinly sliced nice rye, the sweet namesake root veggies were considerably elevated by cloud-like, house-made whipped ricotta cheese. A bit of arugula and red onion provided more earthy ballast.
The hits kept coming with a chunky, mayo-restrained and altogether terrific Chicken Salad ($7). Piled high on a toasted challah roll, the rustically hacked, poultry-heavy mass was accompanied by richness-cutting, freshly pickled cucumbers and onions.
I also dug the flavors of the Housemade Corned Beef on rye ($7). Too bad the fatty and chewy, thick-cut meat couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain with a campfire-like smoked cabbage slaw and a side of strong and sweet homemade mustard.
Even with that minor brisket misfire, though, Challah’s still one of our best new food trucks.
Photo by Tim Johnson