After months of debate, Toronto city council finally amended the Mobile Food Vending laws in April enabling trucks to operate in pay-and-display parking spots. The new permits (priced at $5066.69/year) issued on May 15, 2014 came with strings attached: trucks had to be at least 50 metres away from a restaurant; trucks could not remain in the same street location for more than three hours; and no more than two food trucks could park on the same city block. Only a few of the 125 licenses were purchased. We joined the official grand opening celebration of three of the newly licensed food trucks: Randy’s Curbside Roti & Doubles, Kal & Mooy, and Me.n.u.
Randy’s Curbside Roti & Doubles (@RandysRoti) Randy Kangal wasted no time and was one of the first newly licensed food trucks to hit the Toronto streets. Kangal parked his authentic Trinidadian food truck at Queen and University. To celebrate this grand opening, Kangal handed out free doubles to the first 50 customers. The food truck sported a straight forward menu of three items: doubles ($5), chicken or vegetarian roti ($10 each). Doubles were served on waxed paper. The two bara (flat fried bread) is filled with channa (curried chick peas) topped with finely-sliced cucumber. The channa contained well-balanced savoury spices with subtle hints of sweetness. The roti came neatly wrapped in parchment paper in a Styrofoam box. Warm potato and chicken filled the neatly folded roti wrap.
Kal & Mooy (@KalandMooy) Ahmed Duale and his wife Aisha Mohamed launched Kal & Mooy (“mortar and pestle”), the first Toronto food truck which sells Somali and East African food – with a twist. Their grand opening hit a small road bump when they realized their intended location (Queens Quay) was heavily under construction. The opening was relocated to Church and Gerrard by Ryerson University, where they are now frequently found. The chicken or beef sabaya (Somali flat bread), which goes for $6, came wrapped in foil paper in a reusable plastic container. The simply-flavoured flat bread was stuffed with Swiss cheese, tomato, lettuce, bell peppers, chicken, onion and topped with tomato sauce. Samosas were available in three options: vegetable, chicken, and beef ($1.50, $1.75, $2, respectively). The vegetable samosa was stuffed with broccoli, mushrooms, and lima beans, whereas meat samosas were stuffed with meat and onions. Sweet, mild, medium, hot, house sauces (twist on a shidni sauce [Somalian chili sauce with tamarind]) were available for dipping. The rice and chicken ($10) platter featured chicken and stir fried vegetables served on steamed rice.
Me.n.u (@meNuFoodTruck) After graduating with an economics degree and traveling in Asia, Allen Tan decided to enter the food industry. Establishing a reputation for their Asian Rice Balls in the Toronto Underground Market, he and partner Bryan Siu-Chong opened their cleverly named Me.n.u food truck. The Me.n.u’s grand opening was quite a spectacle. With music blaring and Joe working the crowd, they easily attracted a lot of attention at Queen and University. The first 100 customers received an exclusive me.n.u.tdot bracelet. Three Asian Rice Balls (2 for $6) were available for selection: Angry birds (Singaporean Hainanese Chicken, Artichoke, Shitake Mushroom), Porkzilla (Braised Pork Belly, Caramelized Onion, Chinese Broccoli, Mozzarella Cheese), and 1 Up (Four-kind Mushroom Mix, Sauteed Red Onion, Golden Hashbrowns). This Asian twist on arancini resulted in rice balls with a crispy exterior shell which opened into a moist and flavourful interior filled with surprises. The Roti Taco ($5) with pulled beef brisket or Singapore satay chicken was a play on roti prata (a fried-flour based pancake which is served with vegetable or meat curry). The roti was made perfectly and tasted like it was just purchased from a hawker centre in Singapore. The Singapore satay chicken was garnished with carrots, onions, and matchstick taro chips then drizzled with their signature sauce. The Rice Burger ($5) was served with Korean bulgogi beef or Singapore Satay chicken. This featured a bun made of rice, which was a spin on last year’s ramen burger craze. The bun had a great outer crispness and soft interior, which perfectly complemented the texture of the meat. The Smokin’ Peking Duck Poutine ($8) was Me.n.u’s Asian twist on the famous Canadian dish. Every dish was prepared so meticulously that if it were not for the Styrofoam container you would think you were dining at a restaurant.
Photographs by Ingrid Goh.