D.C. Dining with Hula Girl

Greetings, GOTG readers! I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve reviewed a truck, but I’m back to blogging and hungrier than ever.

Here’s what you missed while I was away: This summer, I moved to Washington, D.C. to intern with an online advertising company on Capitol Hill. The Hill is a daily hotbed for food trucks of all kinds, so finding food on-the-go hasn’t been as much of a struggle as it was in London. I’ve had a busy few months, but today I finally got around to putting together a D.C. truck review. My first stop? The Hula Girl food truck, parked this afternoon at First and D Street, SE.

Hula Girl Food Truck

Hula Girl was recommended to me by a friend from the area, so I was excited to see the truck pull up across the street from my office today around 11:30 AM. My friend had raved about the Hula Girl’s Teriyaki Tofu Salad, so I set out with a conviction to have it for myself. After waiting in a moderately-long line of federal employees on their lunch hour, I reached the truck’s adorable “Order Here” window and requested my meal.

Order Here Window

What impressed me right away about Hula Girl was the truck’s staff. I’m sure many of my readers know the importance I place on customer service (see my post “You Got…Great Customer Service” for proof), and Hula Girl certainly did not disappoint. When I arrived at the “Order Here” window, the staff member asked my name–presumably to track my order–but also used it to personally thank me. When my food was ready for pick-up, a different staff member popped her head out of the window, looked right at me despite the dense crowd of people around the truck, and said “Kelly, here’s your order.” How did she know I was Kelly? These actions showed an attention to detail that really made me feel like a valued customer.

Hula Girl Tofu Salad

But regardless of how impressed I was with the truck’s service, I plan to revisit Hula Girl for the food alone. My Teriyaki Tofu Salad, pictured above, was a wonderful blend of greens, shredded napa cabbage, cucumber, edamame, green onions, macadamia nuts, pickled carrots and daikon with ginger-soy dressing. Best of all, laying on top was a large piece of well-seasoned tofu. The only downside to the meal was the price–$8.00 for a vegetarian salad? Washington, D.C. prices are steep, and today, I missed the low prices of the Temple University trucks I know so well.

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Buddy’s Food Truck

 

David Sipress cartoon, New Yorker

David Sipress, The New Yorker

March 5, 2012

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Where Can A Girl Get A Food Truck Around Here?

Even in its second month, 2012 has been a big year for me. On January 4, I abandoned my Philadelphia townhouse and moved to London in pursuit of worldly knowledge, a PR internship and a chic new environment. I’ve seen many incredible things while I’ve been overseas (Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Dublin Castle, etc.) but I’ve also made some less pleasing discoveries—about myself.

The most disturbing of my revelations has been that I cannot cook. Without the luxuries of quick and inexpensive food trucks, I’m completely lost—I eat simple, starchy meals almost every night of the week because they require little actual cooking. I do my best to replicate dishes I’ve tried in restaurants or seen on TV, but, in the end, I always end up back with whole wheat pasta and red sauce. What am I doing wrong?

This blog post is a cry for help. How do you, readers, make the time to cook? How do you make sure your meals are balanced, healthy and stay on budget? Help!

gourmet on the go

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Christmas at the Temple Creperie

Many of my final projects have been unnecessarily rough this year, so last week I decided I needed a study break and headed to the Temple Creperie at 13th and Norris Street to distract myself.

Temple Creperie on Gourmet On-the-Go

When I arrived at the truck (which parks just outside of Presser Hall), I noticed that the Creperie was decked out for the holidays and playing Christmas music for the enjoyment of anyone waiting in line or walking by. The festive atmosphere helped me forget the cold, my finals and the long line of people ahead of me.

The Creperie’s line isn’t from a lack of customer service, however–the truck is arguably the most popular eatery on campus. Rightly so, because if you look closely, the trucks exterior is plasted with raving newspaper articles and food reviews. I mean, check out how delicious my Berries Boston crepe looks! It’s loaded with strawberries, blueberries, Boston creme and Nutella.

Berries Boston on Gourmet On-the-Go

If you’re still not sold on the Temple Creperie, watch this YouTube video that I stumbled upon when searching for the (non-existant) Temple Creperie website. Yum!

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U Got…Yummy Mozzarella Sticks

This week, Gourmet On-The-Go returned—yet again—to U Got Munchies, a food cart on Norris Street by Tomlinson Theater. As many readers know, my past experience with U Got Munchies was not too positive. I decided to revisit the truck because Alex, the owner of U Got Munchies, sent me a letter of apology at the end of October and I appreciated his dedication to customer service. As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised with the food I received, too.

I love mozzarella sticks. I’m not usually a fussy mozzarella stick eater because I like them so much. However, my non-discriminate eating does not mean that I cannot differentiate high quality fried cheese from low-quality fried cheese. So let’s be clear—U Got Munchies does not serve low-quality fried cheese.

Usually, I get my mozzarella stick fix from E&E Gourmet Express, a truck that I frequent and have reviewed on this blog. The mozzarella sticks at this truck are square-ish and pale, traits that invariably mean that the sticks were purchased pre-made and frozen. The mozzarella sticks at U Got Munchies are an entirely different story. These little stems of cheesy delight are soft and round, indicators that they were rolled by the truck operators themselves. This extra effort makes of a world of difference, and I would venture to say that the mozzarella sticks at U Got Munchies are the best I’ve ever eaten on Temple University’s campus.

My only complaint about U Got Munchies is that they don’t have the ability to heat up the marinara dipping sauce before serving it. So what is my suggestion to all of you mozzarella stick lovers? Enjoy the sticks in a place with a microwave like the café in Tyler School of Art or the Temple University Honors Lounge. There, you can heat the sauce up yourself and get the full experience.

Happy Munching!

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U Got…Great Customer Service

Two weeks ago, I posted about U Got Munchies, a food truck on Norris street by Tomlinson Theater. I didn’t have the best experience–there was hair in the food–and I posted a review reflecting my opinion of the truck. Today, I received a comment from the owner of U Got Munchies regarding my less-than-satisfactory dinner. Here’s what he said:

Hello Kelly,

My name is Alexander Kipphut and I am one of the owners of U Got Munchies. I was both upset and disturbed by hearing about this incident and I wanted to extend my sincere apologizes on the unfortunate event.

Food Trucks have a bad reputation in regards to cleanliness, and we at Munchies work hard to combat this stereotype by ensuring that we not only follow, but exceed all health code regulations set forth by the city of Philadelphia. While I can not offer you an explanation as to the origin of the hair under those specific circumstances, I would like to note that all of our food handling employees wear proper protection including hair restraints and gloves whenever they are working. This is the first such incident we have encountered, and we will be looking to see what further steps we can take to even better ensure that it is the last.

While words alone can not fix what happened, and I understand your reservations, I would at least like to refund the entirety of your purchase as a gesture of good will. Please feel free to contact me personally at alexander@ugotmunchies.com with any further questions or concerns.

Best,
Alex

This message really impressed me. It showed a strong commitment to customer service, and I appreciate that. I didn’t go to U Got Munchies and complain after the incident–Alex independently found my post and took responsibility for the mishap. With this dedication to customer satisfaction in mind, I decided that I will give the food truck another try.

We’ll be re-visiting U Got Munchies next week for Round Two! (I really have been dying for some good mozzarella sticks)

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U Got…Hair In Your Food

As this blog has expanded, I’ve gotten lots of recommendations from classmates and professors regarding which Temple food trucks I should visit each week. This week, an  academic advisor directed me to U Got Munchies, a food cart on Norris Street right in front of Tomlinson Theater. I decided this sounded like an interesting eatery, so I grabbed a friend and we set out to visit the truck for dinner.

U Got Munchies on Gourmet On the Go

When I arrived at U Got Munchies, it didn’t take me long to notice that there were very few vegetarian options on the menu. Even with nine different kinds of French fries available, only three of the choices were meat-less options. I decided to stick with the truck anyway, and I ordered a grilled peanut butter and Nutella sandwich with a classic Coke (we’re talking about the in-a-glass-bottle, no high-fructose corn syrup kind of Coke). Pleased with my choice, I listened to hear what my carnivore dinner-companion would decide to order. She picked the Big Mac & Cheese, the truck’s most popular burger, which is pictured below.

Big Mac and Cheese Burger on Gourmet on the Go

The Big Mac & Cheese is a tower of cheeseburger patties, tomato slices and fried mac and cheese. The two burger patties were well-done, which my friend said she would change if she went back again. It is not likely that she will be back, however, because her burger had a human hair stuck right in the middle of it. Ew? I think so, too. Needless to say, I won’t be visiting U Got Munchies again anytime in the near future.

Rachel Finds a Hair in Big Mac and Cheese Burger

(Tip: If you’re brave enough to eat at U Got Munchies on your own, try the truck’s delivery service, which runs from 5 p.m. to “close.” The U Got Munchies website indicates that they are hoping to expand their hours until midnight, so I assume “close” is around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. Happy munching!)

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