Monday, October 4, 2010

The Return of the Truck Party - Dim Ssam a Gogo, Jefe's Original

The last time we mentioned a "truck party" here, it was a two-part taste test featuring the gastroPod and Latin Burger. That was more than half a year ago, and since then several more food trucks have started up operations in Miami. In fact, the twitter list of South Florida food trucks I've compiled now numbers more than twenty, though not all of those are in regular circulation (and conversely, there are others who shun contemporary social media such as Twitter in favor of - I don't know, paper cups and string?). As I mentioned Friday, several of the food trucks were gathered in Haulover Marina Park on Saturday for the South Florida Dragon Boat Festival, and I stopped by for some more samples. There was not much in the way of dragon boats actually racing when we were there at mid-day, but there was some good eating.

One of the newest trucks on the block is the Dim Ssäm à Gogo truck from Sakaya Kitchen. Chef Richard Hales has been doing a fantastic job at Sakaya putting out creative, vibrantly flavored, Korean-influenced food (my raves over his "Dim Ssam Brunch" and the regular menu have already appeared here), and the Dim Ssäm à Gogo takes that show on the road (I think I've now officially used up every corny "street"-related reference). On board, Chef Richard Hales is offering a nice short-form sampling of items from the restaurant menu, both some "greatest hits" (Korean Fried Chicken, Honey Orange Ribs) and a grab-bag of other creations.

Family Frod split some KFC, a "K-Dog," and some "Covered & Chunk'd Tots."

(continued ...)

The fried chicken wings were every bit as good as those from the restaurant - crispy outside, tender inside, with an undertow of spice. The K-Dog was simply awesome, a Nathan's all-beef hot dog, crisped up some on the grill, topped with a kimchi slaw, a generous shmear of some mayo/mustard/kochuchang concoction, a sprinkle of green onions, and for good measure, a row of tater tots. But the "best in show" went to the "covered & chunk'd tots," and not just because Chef Hales apparently knows and is willing to exploit my weakness for Waffle House. In this version, a mess 'o' tots is covered with some cheddar cheese sauce and kochuchang, and then the "chunk'd" takes the form of diced, richly sweet-salty kalbi (marinated and grilled short ribs). When he first unveiled this dish, it was fittingly with the hashtag #thedevilmademedoit.

We had a little more room, so I paid my first visit to Jefe's Original, another newer addition to Miami's food truck lineup. The "Original" in the name refers to their "original" recipe for an Ensenada-style fish taco, from the village in Baja California where the dish was supposedly created. Their story, of a recipe passed down by a legendary surfer nicknamed "El Jefe," is almost certainly apocryphal. But their fish tacos are the real deal.

They fill doubled-up corn tortillas with crispy fried fish filets, then top them with a thinly julienned slaw of white cabbage, a pico de gallo with big chunks of juicy red tomatoes, and a cool crema-based drizzle. A squeeze of fresh lime and a dribble of some house-made hot sauce (a very thick and unabashedly spicy chile-based salasa) complete the composition. The interplay of the hot, crispy fish, cool crunchy vegetables, creamy sauce and spicy chile gets everything right.

Jefe's also offers tacos filled with carnitas and burgers (rumor has it they're modeled after an In-n-Out Burger, not a bad model to emulate) which were beyond our appetite's ability to sample today. I did sneak a bite of their "real deal fries" from a friend, though, which were hand-cut and nicely crispy, but the kicker was the scatter of fried capers interspersed throughout with their briney, slightly vegetal bite.

Also present, though we didn't get to try them, were the Fish Box (the new truck from seafood specialists La Camaronera) and Wing Commander. Hopefully we'll see them on the road again soon.

Dim Ssäm à Gogo (Sakaya Kitchen)

Jefe's Original


  1. You missed out on Jefe's Double Cheezer. I love that guy.

  2. Don't know if a victim of success or not but the one time I tried Jefe fish Tacos @ the Hard Rock they looked nothing like yours.... almost nothing in them tasteless very disappointed.


  3. What I had from Jefe's when @ the Hard Rock looked and tasted nothing like what you described. It was a tasteless anemic fish taco with almost no toppings....Guess they are a victim of their own success!