Twenty-one colorfully painted food trucks were scattered all throughout the HUB upper plaza this past Thursday afternoon, Oct. 27, drawing in hungry Highlanders from all depths of campus. Hosted by ASUCR and UCR Dining, the fourth biannual Food Truck Festival aimed to create an increasingly active campus culture while providing 50 percent of the proceeds to the R’Pantry, UCR’s food pantry dedicated to providing non-perishable items to food insecure students.
Many of the food trucks that were invited to UCR’s campus fell short of expectations, while others had surprisingly exceeded them. Luckily, if you ever happen to be on a hunt for popular food trucks traveling across SoCal, we have a list of the top five trucks that visited the Food Truck Fest.
Expectations ran quite high for Middle Feast as their food truck won season five of Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race.” The greatly anticipated dishes were well worth the wait as the items proved to have satisfied any Middle Eastern cuisine craving. Their menu boasted a variety of foods including chicken shawarma, spicy Moroccan fish tacos and the shuka burger, which contained a grilled beef and lamb patty.
The chicken shawarma “definitely hit the spot –– the taste is a five out of five,” revealed Ryland Forsythe, a first-year chemistry graduate student. The price was considered to be a bit on the steeper side at $11 an item but even then, the serving size was quite large.
A large gathering accumulated across the lawn by Pierce Hall, as the line for White Rabbit seemingly had handfuls of customers join at every passing minute. Upon further inspection, I discovered that it sold Filipino fusion cuisine, combining American and Mexican tastes. At reasonable prices set at $12 for a combo meal, which consisted of an entree, side and beverage, it was no wonder why many passersby had willingly waited in the lengthy queue for this worthy deal.
White Rabbit carried meat options such as chicken adobo, beef steak, pork barbecue and pork sisig to be cooked in their burritos, rice bowls, tacos and quesadillas –– all of which were confirmed to have a well-seasoned, savory flavor of hominess. “It’s just like a hug-in-your-mouth kind of greasy,” emphasized third-year psychology major Alyssa Rea when speaking about the Filipino dishes offered.
[pullquote]Such was the case for first-year chemistry major Lesley Padron, who “saw a bunch of Filipinos and felt as though (she) needed a home away from home since (she had) been feeling a little homesick.”[/pullquote]
For many, the appealing factor of White Rabbit was simply the fact that customers missed their home-cooked Filipino foods. Such was the case for first-year chemistry major Lesley Padron, who “saw a bunch of Filipinos and felt as though (she) needed a home away from home since (she had) been feeling a little homesick.”
With its original location in the San Fernando Valley, Okamoto Kitchen has gained a large following for its “authentic, lesser known Japanese dishes such as chicken nanban, cheese mochi and classic style Japanese curry.” Many of their dishes had a modern twist to them as the meats were found between burger or fried rice buns as opposed to the more traditional style of eating over a plate of rice. This ranged from foods such as their gyu don stack, katsu curry sandwich and pork chashu sandwich.
The katsu curry sandwich was a favorite among many of the customers at Okamoto Kitchen.
“It’s pretty pricey at $11, so I don’t think it’s worth the value,” mentioned Margareta Syuilin, first-year creative writing major, taking note of the cost. Meanwhile, third-year business major Melissa Yan considered it to be a “pretty reasonable price, with quick customer service and foods packed with Japanese fusion flavors.”
All-American classic barbecue had an unexpected twist at the Grill-a-Dog food truck with its unique and signature mojo sauce on top of the fresh baked buns. The premium hot dog meats pair delightfully with their naturally blended mojo sauce, which provides a sweet, tangy and savory kick of flavor. While this food truck catered to the old favorites such as the Classic Style Dog and Chicago Style Dog, it also introduced modern takes on dogs like the Frankenstein –– topped with a fried egg, jalapeno bacon and homemade chili –– and Jojo’s Train Wreck, which advertised an even more memorable sauce known as the “AWESOME” sauce.
Enjoyably munching on a Chicago Style Dog, microbiology graduate student Hannah Schulman briefed us on the exceptional value of their items as not a single hot dog priced above $9. Schulman stated that for $5.95, the Chicago Style Dog offered “a delicious and comforting taste, while the hotdog itself is hefty, that’s for sure.”
Claiming to be experts in “delivering the ‘sneak attack’: bold flavors, fiery sauces, unlikely combinations and new ‘foodie’ specials for dedicated followers” while having a rather unique seasonal menu, MeSo Hungry saw a long lasting line all day on UCR’s campus. Their uncommon takes on burgers included their PB&J Burger and Flyin’ Hawaiian Sliders.
“The Monster Burger is extremely worth the value of $10 and is super filling; look at how huge it is!” exclaimed Kail Huang, first-year biology major. The burger itself contained an angus beef patty, bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and the special kick of an tangy barbecue sauce. Similarly, most of their burgers had a minor twist that allowed MeSo Hungry to be a game changer in the category of burgers.
The array of food trucks were able to deliver boastful tastes and satisfy Highlanders’ appetites, but the genuine goal of the Food Truck Fest was to address food insecurity on UCR’s campus.
“This is a school in which one in three students are estimated to be food insecure, so we don’t want to flaunt expensive foods in front of students who can’t afford it,” relayed Dalshawn Boson II, fourth-year business finance major and current ASUCR senator. He continued, “That’s why 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the R’Pantry. That’s really what the objective of the Food Truck Festival is: To create campus culture and provide resources to the students who can’t afford food.
ASUCR’s Food Truck Fest thus demonstrated tremendous success in that it brought students together for the common interest of satiating their own hunger as well as endorsing the R’Pantry’s goal to increase food security.