Lively, upbeat music floats through the air as children run about, their parents chatting amiably as the descending sun covers an array of food trucks in a golden glow. Off the Grid, a local organization that brings together food trucks from across the Bay Area, meets in a variety of locations, including in the parking lot of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View every Friday night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Google executives, parents with young children and college students all flock to the trucks seeking a relaxing wind-down to the week and a variety of delectable foods. The trucks represent an often overlooked aspect of the competitive culinary industry and a fresh alternative to expensive local dining. To find out more, we visited a few out of the nine food trucks there on a sunny August dusk; the enticing atmosphere kept us there until the sun had set and the food trucks began to roll away.
Aki-ta Sushi [star rating=”4/5″]
Aki-ta Sushi first came to Off the Grid three months ago, and since then has settled nicely into the small food truck community. This truck offers a variety of sushi dishes, with over 20 options listed on the menu. The preparation took slightly longer than the other trucks, but this was understandable as the chefs were making the sushi specific to each order inside the vehicle. Prices were reasonable, barely reaching over $10, and the food was well made with quality ingredients.
$9 Red Dragon Roll
This delicate, bite sized sushi contains shrimp, avocado and crab, wrapped in rice and seaweed and delicately drizzled with a sweet combination of tuna unagi (eel) sauce and spicy mayo. As you bite into it, the crispy fried outside satisfies your mouth, followed by the refreshing taste of fresh seafood. The set contains eight medium-sized pieces, thoughtfully placed to form a smiling face with sides of wasabi and ginger.
$9 Akita Roll
Salomon Airas, the owner of Aki-ta Sushi, is most proud of the Akita Roll, his own creation and the truck’s namesake. So, of course, Verde had to try it. A bite of shrimp, unagi, cream cheese, soft, unagi sauce, cream sauce and spicy mayo is hard to resist.
Taco Truck [star rating=”4/5″]
“Aquí se come sabroso” are the welcoming words written on a small chalkboard hanging above the ordering window of this food truck. The Spanish phrase translates to here we eat tasty. Glass jars, filled with an array of spices and condiments, are lined up next to the window — it truly is any salsa lover’s dream. Gustavo Garcia, one of the co-owners of this Mexican food truck, is on a mission to provide customers with authentic food that holds up to this standard.
$2.50 Soft Tacos
This dish, which allows for self-customization with meat type and sauces, was quick to gain our approval. Hand-sized soft-shell tacos enveloped meat, onion and cilantro. Although the red-orange meat of the chicken taco would make one think that the dish would be spicy, it was the perfect balance of spice and savoriness, and the meat was tender and well-cooked. The beef taco’s meat, however, was chunky and tough to chew. Yet it was surprisingly far better tasting than the chicken; despite the my initial aversion to its texture, the beef taco was quick to become my favorite for the night.
$3.50 Grilled Corn
It may seem silly to simply review corn, but the corn from this truck tasted straight out of Mexico. Grilled until just lightly browned, and covered with generous amounts of butter, the corn is served with white cotija cheese, tajin pepper and served with a slice of lime on top of a small wooden handle. It’s an explosion of flavor with the initial spice quickly fading into a delightful mix of sour and sweet.
Cookies and Cream [star rating=”5/5″]
The only dessert food truck we visited, Cookies and Cream was simple in concept but over the top in deliciousness. The truck offers a mix and match system — any type of ice cream with either a cup, waffle cone or cookie sandwich.
While the selection of ice cream was limited compared to your grocery store alternative, each flavor was creamy and delectable, with a perfect level of sweetness. Some of the unique flavors inclued “Too Die For” which consisted of vanilla ice cream with fudge swirls and peanut butter, and “EarthQuake” which contained chocolate and blackberry swirls.
The fresh cookies add a homemade hint to the truck’s offereings.“ We bake our own cookies at home, it’s all a family business,” says truck owner Peter Cao.
The business, which claims that its ice cream sandwiches are “the best in the Bay,” also donates partial proceeds to schools and charities, says Cao.
$5 “New World Order” Ice Cream Sandwich
New World Order ice cream, Cao’s own creation, is an amazing blend of fudge, chocolate and caramel ice cream. It was an exquisite combination of sweet and salty, so expertly blended that my taste buds didn’t know what to think. I would even venture to say that it was the best ice cream I have ever tasted. The cookies are likely a heaven for hardcore chocolate lovers, consisting of a higher percentage of chocolate chunks than actual cookie.