Evening dinner review
I have a confession. Claiming to be somewhat of a “foodie,” I hold a terrible, dark secret. I have never ever not even once eaten at a taco cart/stand. I hold up my hands, guilty as charged. I don’t think there is any particular reason for me having missed out on what to some is a daily requirement for a life worth living. It could have something to do with, but is certainly not limited to, my OCD-like requirements for some sort of cleaning device for my hands (i.e. napkin, paper towel, handy wipe) when handling food, laziness, never having cash on me when the opportunity arises, and the lack of the opportunity arising (no carts around when when my hands are clean and I am feeling daring). I could make many more excuses, but I won’t. You are probably already hanging your head and feeling my immense shame. But wait, before you close your browser, I have to make it known that I recently righted this horrible wrong, albeit with something a little different.
Luckily for us, Salt Lake City has recently welcomed a newcomer to the ranks of our carts and stands, ladies and gentleman, I give you the Chow Truck:
The premise largely comes from our neighbours on the west coast, think L.A., where the concept of gourmet food trucks has been thriving for quite some time. In the simplest sense, take the portable nature of your standard taco stand, and turn the food volume up to 11.
The Chow Truck’s operators have some serious credentials. The operation is the work of two ladies you may know of; SuAn Chow (founder of the well-known Charlie Chow’s Salt Lake City restaurant) and Rosanne Ruiz (local Chef and restaurant owner most recently spotted developing the menu at one of SLC’s newer eateries, Vinto).
The Chow Truck serves up five main dishes. Coconut lemon grass chicken, Pineapple ginger pork, Spicy beef with Cilantro Chile-Pesto and Panko fried tofu with Cilantro-Chile pesto. For $2.50 a pop you can have these protein options as either a taco or slider (on a small hamburger-type bun). For $4.00 you can also chose to have one of them atop a salad. These main selections are bolstered by a smattering of other items like deep fried calamari, soups, and root vegetable chips. The truck also serves up fresh brewed coffees and sweet treats.
To get a feel for the Chow Truck we eagerly sampled a range of these items.
My own personal favourite was the spicy beef, which, as promised, had a suitably spicy kick. As with all the selections we tried (chicken, pork, beef, tofu) not only were the flavours spot on, they were all a textural treat too, with the crunchy wonton topping and cilantro adding a nice crunch and freshness. I was ultimately a fan of the taco preparation compared to the sliders; the former being easier to manipulate on the go. Too many precious tasty morsels kept slipping from my slider.
You might also notice the Asian Spiced Root Chips pictured above, a thoroughly enjoyable mix of fried yukon spuds, purple taters, carrots, yams, beets and lotus root. I dare you to try and order just one. The night we visited, The Chow Truck was parked behind the Twilite Lounge. I could easily see myself stepping out of the bar at least three or four times for a quick order of root chips and a taco or two during an evening out. The root chips would no doubt prove to be a terribly addictive bar food. Terrible in all the best ways mind you.
Not pictured, mainly due to it serving to warm our cold hands, was the soup of the day. A coconut-based broth featuring chunks of chicken and vegetables, it was simply wonderful, delicate and packed to the brim with ‘that one more bite’ quality. A huge container of this stuff for four measly bucks would be a bargain, sure to hit the spot equally on cold days or nights. We finished up with a signature Lemon Cookie, which might be even more addictive than the aforementioned chips. You have been warned!
Due to city restrictions, the truck doesn’t have a set venue, they can only park on private property. So, as luck would have it, you could see the Chow Truck pop up almost anywhere around town. Of course the operators will keep an eye on where the hungry masses congregate. Check out The Chow Truck website or follow them on Twitter for daily locations and special menu items. Be sure to check your wallet before you head out too, the Chow Truck is a cash only venture. So whether you see the unmistakable Chow Truck in your neck of the woods or seek out and journey to their next location, I’d urge you to check out this unique newcomer to SLC. In fact, I’d urge you to track them down next time you’re hankering for some taco stand fare. You might just be pleasantly surprised.
Chow Haute Asian Cuisine
Various locations, check their site and twitter for up to the minute locations
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. I ate all the pies.