The sudden sprouting of food carts all over Columbus is hands down my favorite trend. It's something we should be proud of, because many of them are exceptionally tasty.
After reading about Foodie Cart, which is a Japanese style crepe cart (something I never even knew existed until I read about them!), I was convinced it would be brilliant. The hype surrounding it seemed reliable; everyone who visited was smitten.
Like star-crossed lovers, however, Foodie Cart always seemed to be out while I was working, or out of town, or they closed before I could make it, and we could never connect. Until this week.
First of all, let me just start by saying I know nothing about "traditional Japanese crepes. In fact, I've been trying to google (happy birthday google, by the way!) more information about them, but I've haven't been able to find a lot of information. According to Foodie Cart's Facebook page, Japanese crepes are "a thin, crispy, yet soft crepe that is filled with goodness." Oh my, are they ever!
The team behind Foodie Cart is Kenny Kim and Misako Ohba. Misako attended pastry school in Tokyo, and it is a pleasure to watch her work. Her hands raking the crepe batter over the pan are so beautiful and graceful; the way she adds the goodies and folds everything together so perfectly is artistic and lovely, like a dance: it's mesmerizing.
Here's one thing I absolutely love about Japanese food, as I understand it (I've never been to Japan, and am no expert on Japanese food, but I have made it a mission to consume as much of it as possible): the adherence to traditional Japanese foods is strict - down to the types of dishes used, but then there is this completely wacky side of Japanese food where you have things like mayonnaise milkshakes. I love it.
I agonized between the tonkatsu (pork cutlet) with cream cheese, and the bulgogi (a Korean dish of very flavorful marinated bbq beef) cheesesteak, but eventually went with the tonkatsu, which came with mustard, tonkatsu sauce (a kind of sweet bbq sauce), and Kewpee mayo (yummy). I forked over my $5 and was given this delightful reward (sorry for the weird picture; I only had my phone):
Oh my - the tonkatsu was hot and savory and crispy, filled with cream cheese, and the sauces mingled together perfectly - sweet, savory, rich, and acidic - I am starting to drool. The Japanese crepe seems to be slightly thinner and crisper than a traditional French crepe, and Foodie cart offers a gluten-free crepe as well as a vegan version (their standard crepe features Snowville Creamery milk).
I had a friend along, and at first she didn't want anything, but she was as amazed by watching Misako make the crepe as I. We were halfway down the block when she tasted my crepe, and we immediately turned around so that she might procure her own. She chose the bulgogi cheesesteak, which included the meat and mozzarella. It sounds like something a discerning stoner would concoct at 3 in the morning from leftovers, and it was just as delicious. I thought it very slightly edged out the tonkatsu, but seriously, they were both good.
In addition, Foodie Cart was offering natto (fermented soy beans, one of the most challenging Japanese foods for western palates) and squid rolls. I am certain they are the only food cart in the city - perhaps even in the state - where one can get natto! Although Husband loves natto, I couldn't convince him to let me bring one home for him (he had his heart set on a big Mexican burrito from El Arepazo, another great choice). So I didn't get to try that one.
Oh my - the tonkatsu was hot and savory and crispy, filled with cream cheese, and the sauces mingled together perfectly - sweet, savory, rich, and acidic - I am starting to drool.
The Japanese crepe seems to be slightly thinner and crisper than a traditional French crepe, and Foodie cart offers a gluten-free crepe as well as a vegan version (their standard crepe features Snowville Creamery milk).
I can't wait for my next Japanese crepe; I've been thinking about it all weekend!
Foodie Cart is a smaller, hot dog-sized cart with very little protection from the elements, so they are a little beholden to the weather to cooperate when they are out. You can stay on top of their schedule by tracking their Facebook page. You can catch them this Thursday at the St James Tavern for the Bells Two-Hearted Cask Party, beginning at 6pm. A delightful duo, indeed!
info::Foodie Cart; various times and locations - they seem to be extremely receptive to suggestions, so don't hesitate to ask them to come to your hood. They seem to be pretty consistent setting up near the Pearl Alley Markets on Tuesdays and Fridays.