Food Truck Frenzy on Campus

Happy last day of school! I still can’t believe second year went by SO FAST.

Before I jump into talking about food trucks at UBC, I will just put it in here that if you are going to the AMS Block Party tonight (Adventure Club! Woohoo!) all you need is to show your ticket barcode to receive 10% on food in the SUB! I used mine at The Gallery earlier for a Roasted Chicken Pesto Salad.

Last month, the UBC community was very fortunate to have Japadog roll onto campus to fundraise for the Tohoku Earthquake fund. One of my classes were conveniently located where the food cart was, and for a hungry foodie who was struggling to concentrate in her classes on an empty stomach, there was no better choice than to stuff myself with a Japadog while donating to a good cause. Killing two birds with one stone, aww yeah. My frenzy for food trucks continued as I finally decided to try The Hungry Nomad, UBC’s very own food truck (and also the first stationed on-campus food truck in CANADA). So here’s a post dedicated to these mobile eateries.

I remember when Japadog suddenly became really popular back in 2010, and even managed to open up a Japadog in New York City (which I heard, unfortunately closed last month). I had my first version of Japadog during the 2010 Winter Olympics and I will never forget how messy it was to consume a hotdog topped with flying seaweed and bonito flakes, sticky mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce all amidst the infamous Vancouver wind (that recently knocked down the my backyard fence, thanks).

Due to the temporary nature of the Japadog stand that stood outside of the Abdul Ladha Science Student Centre, there appeared to be fewer selections than normal. The food cart was supposed to be on campus during the week of March 10th, but was removed early due to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) for interfering with other food vendors at UBC. I could get started on a rant about how this is a reality check for UBC Food Services to maybe consider offering cheaper and better quality of food to students, but let’s not get into politics now. After promptly making my donation, I wanted to try their Negimiso but because I was there near closing time, they sold out. So I went for the Okonomi instead (around $7, I can’t remember exactly).

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This particular Japadog has previously won the “2000-2009 Decoding the Decade” award from the Globe and Mail. Also voted as “#1 in Media”, the Okonomi features kurobuta pork, cabbage, bonito flakes (dried finish), my favourite Japanese mayonnaise, and special sauce. We were offered a variety of unlabelled condiments and after a failed attempt of asking one of the Japadog staff to explain to me what they were, I gave up and decided to consume the hot dog with no additional flavours. After all, I had limited time before rushing to my last class of the day, so I did not even put much consideration into getting an additional bag of chips and a pop beverage as an optional meal add-on. The special sauce, with a heavy taste of saltiness, tasted essentially like teriyaki sauce. If I had ordered the Okonomi without looking at the menu, I would not have even noticed there was cabbage in the hot dog. Bonito flakes were littered across the bun and sausage, so if there was an abundance of any particular ingredient, it was the dried fish. The highlight of this Japadog is the kurobuta pork sausage; according to online sources, kurobuta pork is a “highly prized pork in Japan” that derives from Berkshire pigs. For me, the meat was slightly sweeter than normal sausages found in typical hot dogs. Japadogs are undeniably tasty, but with a steep price – if you think about it, a hot dog with a bottomless drink at Costco only costs $1.50 + tax. Nonetheless, Japadog could be a quick on-the-go meal if you ever find yourself running through the streets of Downtown Vancouver.

So as mentioned earlier, my food truck frenzy didn’t just end there. The Hungry Nomad had been serving customers outside of the UBC Bookstore since last summer, but because I never had any classes or activities on that side of the campus, I rarely saw the food truck itself. After punching in some quick search terms on Google, I found out that The Hungry Nomad uses produce from the UBC Farm! These tiny but interesting facts about random things on campus are what make me proud to be a student at this institution. (I was surprised that no Urbanspoon page existed for the food truck and promptly started one up so I could post my photos and link this blog post to it.) My stomach was growling after my early morning class ended at 11 and by the time I made my way over to the Bookstore, The Hungry Nomad was already open for business. I ended buying 2 sandwiches and FINISHING them all by myself, thanks to my eagerness to try as many things on the menu as possible!

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(By the way, the sides of the food truck are painted with UBC scenery like the Clock Tower – so cute!)

The first sandwich I devoured was their B.C. Brisket Sandwich ($7.95), featuring 2-hour braised natural Angus beef brisket and Dijon mustard on a ciabatta bun. This sounds strikingly familiar with Meat & Bread, eh? I found it odd how they advertised beef brisket that has braised for 2 hours, because usually with meat such as steak, they would advertise only if there has been an aging of at least 28 days or something. I was fine with 2 hours though, because the beef was very tender and tangy from the mustard. I used to dislike mustard, but after having the condiment slipped here and there in between my sandwiches, I am slowly learning to appreciate the sharp taste that contrasts with the contents of my sandwich/burger/what not. The half-shredded meat did make the sandwich a little messier to eat, because every time I tugged on a string of beef another would fall out as well. A part of me wondered if I should have had the Fishwich first instead, because the meat-packed sandwich was so fulling I had doubts on how much more my stomach could take.

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I took a short break before diving into the second sandwich of the day, the UBC Fishwich Sandwich, also priced at $7.95. A local food truck, The Hungry Nomad unsurprisingly participated in Ocean Wise, a “Vancouver Aquarium conservation program” advocating sustainable seafood. The tempura cod was appropriately classified as that, and enveloped in a ciabatta bun with coleslaw. The second option was seemingly plain in comparison with the meaty brisket sandwich, but presented a lighter flavour with coleslaw dressing and tartar sauce. The Fishwich is a choice on the menu that I think would satisfy pescatarians and their tummies.

The Hungry Nomad outlasts Japadog on campus, but in reality I enjoyed trying street food from both and will continue to visit these unique mobile eateries. There is still a Pulled Pork Sandwich from The Hungry Nomad that I have yet to try, but since I will be back on campus for summer school in the first term, there will be plenty of opportunities for me to satisfy my food truck cravings then.

Japadog on Urbanspoon

The Hungry Nomad on Urbanspoon

That being said, finals season is coming up, meaning I may be MIA for a bit – but hang tight for more foodie blog posts, because I have tons of places to write about!

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