I've always been a bit skeptical about the success of food trucks in Sydney. To me, the formula is more than just roaming trucks selling affordable food. I think the magic of eating from a food truck is as much about the story of the vendor as it is about the quality and value of the food.
I'll be honest and say that I've been wanting to set up a food truck in Sydney since 2008 but the City of Sydney's regulations made it impossible.
Sydney's absence of food trucks meant enterprising chefs turned to other opportunities. Awesome food stalls at farmers markets became a popular thing, as did pop-up restaurants; furthermore, eateries like Miss Chu begun to offer delivery.
While I was super excited last year to hear about the City of Sydney's plans to finally allow mobile food trucks to roam in Sydney, I was also disappointed to read of their EOI (Expressions of Interest) selection process and 12 month trial plan. It felt so controlled - like they had just pulled the spontaneity and flexibility out of being a food truck vendor.
In the lead up to launching Sydney's food trucks, another hot topic of debate was whether or not Sydneysiders were ready to eat "off the street". I think anyone who has traveled and experienced the concept of food trucks or street food stalls overseas will argue that we are beyond ready.
So there was lots of press about the food trucks launching in Sydney in Summer but we're clearly well into Autumn now and only a few of them are ready.
I've had the opportunity of tracking down two of the ten approved Sydney food trucks so here's a peek at what to expect...
And yes, this is another Instagram fuelled blog post.
I was a bit confused with why they've called themselves a van as the vehicle was more of a truck than a van, but nonetheless, I was impressed by their well-timed launch.
The Reel Food Nights event was a pedal-powered pop-up cinema which featured a screening of The Greenhorns and a panel session that discussed various topics around food and sustainability. So it definitely aligned well with Veggie Patch Van's vision.
There were only three items on the menu that night: veggie burger (zucchini & chickpea fritter with roast tomato, beetroot relish on an ancient grain bun, $10), soup (spiced kumera & lentil soup with fried snowpeas, $8), and polenta chips with wasabi mayo ($5).
But technically there were just two as the deep-fryer wasn't working so there were no chips to be had.
The soup was really textural with lots of layers of flavours. The fried bread it was served with offered a lovely crunch, making the meal much more substantial. I naturally took a few bites of Zen's veggie burger too. The pattie was so moreish and my oh my, the thick grain bun was delicious!
So that was exactly one week ago.
Yesterday, Cantina Mobil happened to be down the road from my office so a visit during lunchtime was a must!
While approaching the truck, I noticed that there weren't many people around. Had they stopped selling food? Why were there no queues?
My concerns were answered quickly. They serve damn fast! (But I also don't think the concept of food trucks in Sydney have reached mainstream consumers yet so us early adopters have them all to ourselves at the moment!)
I'm told that all burritos today come with a free $20 Hype DC voucher. I'm easily swayed. The chipotle beef burrito ($9.50) features succulent slow-cooked beef but I find myself lusting for a bit more at the end. In comparison to other burritos, this one wasn't quite big enough for my appetite.
I do however love their colourful picnic rugs which are spread out on the grass beside the van. Such a cute idea!
But overall Cantina Mobil's offering hasn't really jumped out at me. I'll probably give them another go if they're nearby, but I am most keen to taste the rest of Veggie Patch Van's menu.
My next food truck experience will hopefully be the Eat Art Truck which launches next Wednesday May 23 at 6pm at Queen's Square (corner of Macquarie St and St James Rd, Sydney). See you there? ;)
Where can you find Sydney's food trucks?
Approved locations include the following:
- Queens Square in Sydney CBD
- Hyde Park in Sydney CBD
- Belmore Park in Haymarket (near Central Station)
- Victoria Park in Camperdown (near Sydney Uni and Broadway)
- Federal Park in Glebe
- Sydney Park in Alexandria
- Macquarie Place in Sydney CBD
- Customs House Forecourt in Sydney CBD
- Pitt Street Mall in Sydney CBD
Click for a map of the locations. For the latest vending locations, check out each truck's Twitter, Facebook, or website.
List of the 10 licensed Sydney food trucks
The truck names and Twitter handles are below -
- Agape @agapeorganic on Twitter
- Al Carbon @alcarbontacos on Twitter
- Bite Sized Delights
- Urban Pasta @urbanpasta on Twitter
- Cantina Mobil @cantinamobil on Twitter
- Eat Art Truck @eatarttruck on Twitter
- Let's Do Yum Cha @letsdoyumcha on Twitter
- Taco Truck
- Tsuru @tsurufoodtruck on Twitter
- Veggie Patch Van @veggiepatchvan on Twitter
Happy hunting & eating!