stalking eating at the Don Chow Tacos truck for the past few weeks. Below are a few tips for those folks who suck at street fooding.
1) Please don’t take the order to go. Dom and Lawrence might ask if you want it to go, but… THINK ABOUT THIS: ATM machine. DSL Line, DMZ Zone. All redundancies. Taco truck food to go? Redundancy. You’re already on the friggin’ sidewalk. You can’t eat ON the taco truck nor IN the truck, so just eat BY the truck. The tacos already left the truck the moment you take posession. It’s gone. Go. Gone.
Getting 2 steamed tortillas packed with meat “To-Go” simply means the steam from the meat will al vapor the masa even further and turn it into a crumbly, useless mess. The char will lose its crisp and if you order the shrimp, it’ll still be cooking during the ride home. Don’t be a gringo, especially at a Chinese taco truck. Eat with your hands, on the sidewalk, with the masses.
2) Try the fusion items. It’s what brought you here. Don’t fight the curiosity, especially if you’re a cat lady. The soy ginger shrimp taco works. Don’t freak out, the shrimps are deveined. The stir fry shrimp in the taco I had last weekend was better than the $10 sweet/sour shrimp at Ludobites. Granted they weren’t ginormous, but it wasn’t over seasoned, and it was perfectly sauteed, warm off the griddle. Topped with a fierce habanero salsa, the spicy soy ginger shrimpies slid gently out of rolled tortillas and into my mouth. I much prefer these to deep fried camarones tacos dorados from elsewhere in LA.
Then there’s the Ultimate Ghetto Tacos (Tm, Sinosoul, 2009): street meat of your choice, amply overpowered by grilled onions and crisped bacon chunks. You don’t need a publicist to tell you the inspiration for this piece – hello ghetto dogs! Now top that whole schbang with more habanero salsa for a complete ass-kicking experience. By the way, they do have mayo. Yes, mayo. Call it “off the menu” condiment. Whatever. It’s awesome:
3) Don’t over order. I know you want to give Don Chow your money but… these folks are generous. There’s no need to drop $19 for 2 people. These folks are Chinese. “Chinese” alliterates with “cheap”. They want you to get fed without breaking your bank. Really. The tacos are strictly normal sized, but they aren’t $0.50 taco nite mini-sized. There’s a good chance at 2am, in front of Zanzibar, your stomach’s already sloshing about (not sexy in bed), pumped full of alchi. Just sample couple of items, your stomach will thank you, and you will recall the experience tomorrow at 10am with delicious fondness. And you’ll go back.
The story of Don Chow Tacos is a bit curious. The partners were long term patrons at a San Gabriel Mexican restaurant (Coronados in San Gabriel), and decided to partner with the restaurant’s owner. One gent is in IT, the other is in the food biz; they met when they “were both undergraduate students and have known [each other] for well over 10 years now”.
The current chef is Hispanic (the partnership with Coronados has since dissolved) and some recipes are painstakingly learned from a Mexican friend’s mother while the rest is procured from the bests cooks in Dom & Lawrence’s families.
“What originally started off as an experiment has now taken on a life of its own.” says Dom, “[but] as of now, there are no plans for either of us to quit our day jobs.” No matter, DCT is committed to taste and organic feedback. Lawrence works hard every night to attract grubbers, never shunning a potential buzz agent, even if they’ve never heard of Twitter; Dom insists on maddening number of beta tasters whenever a new product is added. Don Chow is the David of the taco truck battle and it’s also the one you can take home to your mother. (Not a figure of speech, I met 2 sisters who brought their mother to Chinatown at 1am one particular Saturday night).
DCT’s typical schedule is as follows:
Thursday – Zanzibar in Santa Monica – 1301 5th St.
Friday – Soul Sessions at Grand Star in Chinatown – 943 N. Broadway
Saturday – Townhouse Bar in Venice – 52 Windward Ave.
Of course you can follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/donchowtacos and yes, they even cater birthday / block parties with unique menus (think creme brulee?).
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