Dosa! Excellent Veggie Street Fare

Sigh. Another incredible early fall day in Ottawa. Time to take advantage and hit up another food truck. I hope I will steel my nerves and visit them during the winter months but I can’t promise. We certainly have enjoyed them this summer when weather and time permits. Added bonus is that they are one type of resto where we can bring a pooch and Josie is quickly becoming a seasoned food truck gourmand.

Dosa is located at the SW corner of Dundonald Park at Lyon and Somerset streets. So far this is one of the best located trucks, at least by this diner’s point of view. Buy lunch and settle in on a bench or at a table in the dappled shade of pretty Dundonald Park, open to dogs on leash. The Dosa Inc. truck has a QR code on the back and you can scan it with your phone and a menu will pop up to peruse while you wait.

Dosa 1The truck had no line today, but many patrons were already chowing down in the park when we arrived after noon. Service is fast, friendly and helpful. And had never served a dog before. Dosa, a vegetarian staple from the south of India, combines rice and lentil batter to form a large, thin crepe. The crepe is served with a variety (13 choices at Dosa) of meat-free fillings. Each dosa comes with a lightly spiced stew, called sambar, a cooling chutney and a good scatter of thin, crisp, well-made plantain chips. According to Wikipedia, “Sambar is a vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind and pigeon peas”. Dosa Inc’s version, thin and very mild heat-wise also has some eggplant. The chutney, nothing like the bottled mango chutney most of us are familiar with, tastes blandly of coconut and I found to be ideal when paired with the mild spice of the dosa.

Dosa 2Josie decides on a breakfast dosa, spinach, fried egg and cheese with no sides. Rob got the #3, a classic Masala Dosa, filled with potatoes, vegetables and spices and I ordered a dosa stuffed with sweet red cabbage, spiced mushrooms and cheese. We choose to eat our dosas with a fork and knife but it could easily be rolled and eaten by hand. My dosa #7, the Gooey Gouzenko, had nice texture provided by the cabbage. The mushrooms added spice and a mild , pleasant heat. I assume the cheese was paneer. A little more cheese would have been nice, but overall, it was quite filling and a really nice change to a sandwich or a chip truck for the Ottawa lunch crew.

Dosa 4Rob’s masala dosa was full of a classic Indian potato and vegetable mixture. The potatoes were perfectly cooked and not mushy. The dosa doesn’t give you impression of eating carb-on-carb, perhaps because of the the lentils in the pancake or the texture of the extra vegetables. Dosa 8While yellow with spice, it had a very mild heat. A home-made hot sauce was available at the truck for those with more adventurous tastes, but if you’re wary of spicy food, you can eat at Dosa without a concern.

Dosa 6Josie gobbled her dosa, licked her lips and then begged for plantain chips. A dog of few words, Josie heartily endorses the Dosa truck as a great addition to Ottawa’s street food scene. Dosas are both vegetarian and gluten-free.

Dosa 9$25 for 3 dosas, one canned drink and one mango lassie. Note: Josie’s dosa was discounted $2 because we asked that they not include the sides. We were refunded the cost of one dosa because I had emailed Jake about not being there on time yesterday at lunch. The refund is not reflected in the price quoted here.

 

 

Urban Cowboy. Woah!

Indian Summer here in Ottawa, sunny but with the crisp of fall hovering on the air. Another great day to check out Ottawa’s food truck offerings. We intended to check Dosa Inc out, but they were very late to their stated location and did not update their Twitter feed. Jake answered my email to apologize. We will try again on the next sunny free day. So, plan B: Urban Cowboy at its permanent location, Bank and Glen streets.

UCAs it turns out, Plan B would have been a fabulous Plan A. Parking, unmetered at this point, can be found fairly easily. Only six people wait in line ahead of us today. Our orders are taken by a friendly fellow outside the truck, who inputs it into an iPad for the kitchen. Rob selects the Belcher Burger Combo (A BBQ brisket sandwich), which includes a drink and a side of Sweet Potato fries. I choose the Shrimp Taco Combo, and go with the Truffled Mac and Cheese to round it out. Josie is getting a treat today and has decided on the Belcher burger with no sides.

UC 1After about an eight minute wait, food begins to hit the street and soon we are laden down with good sized baskets and looking around for a shady place to eat. There are not many within easy sight but we managed. We tied Josie to a tree and spread out our picnic.

First off, the side portions are extremely generous. The truffled mac and cheese, delicious and creamy, topped with fresh green onions, satisfies with the first bite. The kitchen uses a light hand with the truffle oil so as not to overpower the delicate cheesy pasta. Rob’s sweet potato fries are tempura battered, lightly salted with sea salt, topped with some fresh green onion and served with Urban Cowboy’s own sweet, tangy aioli. The fries are firm, large cut and not greasy. Quite possibly the best sweet potato fries in the city.

UC 2The mains are equally well considered and executed. The brisket burger had a small bakery bun but was packed with thick slices of smoky beef brisket in a sweet, homemade BBQ sauce. My shrimp taco was one of the best ones I have had anywhere, off a truck, or in a restaurant. Sweet, succulent shrimp are piled into a soft flour tortilla with slaw. The taco is the perfect combo of a little sweet, a little heat, and a little crunch. It was so satisfying, in hindsight, I should have forsaken the very excellent mac and cheese for another one of these.

UC 3Josie gave me her dill pickle and then polished of every molecule of her Belcher Burger and gives it three paws up. Four and she falls down.

UC 5$30.50  for two mains with combos which included canned drinks, and a main, no combo. Highly recommended. The only improvement this truck could make is location and I’m not sure how much of that is under their control. Near a park with lots of seating would be awesome.

 

Bap by Raon Kitchen

It is a glorious hot, sunny day in Ottawa this Friday. Time to take advantage of the city’s new food trucks and carts. Bap by RaonKitchen, a Korean cart specializing in bimbimbap is close by, located on Bank St. between Albert and Slater.

Bap 1We head on over and get in line with about 20 people ahead of us. The wait, just under fifteen minutes allowed us to soak up the beautiful weather. Three types of bimbimbap are on offer, tofu, beef and chicken. I choose the chicken, advertized as spicy, and Rob gets the less spicy beef option so we can share a bit with Josie.

Bap 6We snag a nearby street-side bench and dig in. Bimbimbap, Korea’s national dish and a a meal in a bowl,  is characterized by a crispy, chewy, delectable rice with a crust, that forms when serving the dish in a hot stone vessel. I was curious as to how this would be accomplished by a small cart serving takeout. It’s not. The bap, although missing this component is still a thoroughly satisfying rice dish, flavourful, creamy and studded with mushroom, spinach and shredded carrot.  The obligatory fried egg topping is added to the dish in omelet strip form. This really adds little to the overall taste. The bap would be markedly improved by adding a whole fried egg although I admit this may be difficult to accomplish given what they are working with on the street.

Bap 3The proteins, chicken and beef, add taste and texture and round out the ingredients. They soak up the Korean BBQ sauce and spicy kimchi adding to the overall deliciousness of the bap. The chicken bap packs a flavourful chili heat that leaves your mouth tingling for a good ten minutes after. Quite nice. The beef added a meatiness to the overall dish.

Bap 4$17.00 for two meat bimbimbaps (about two cups of food each) and two cans of San Pelliegrino. I would certainly enjoy this for lunch if I were in the area. A nice addition to the Ottawa street food scene.

Diner Deluxe: Breakfast

A quiet unassuming downtown Calgary Street reveals a gem of a breakfast spot. Diner Deluxe has been featured on You Gotta Eat Here, Canada’s kinda sorta Triple D wanna be.

Deluxe 001The diner hosts an ice cream parlour/bakery as you enter. We are here for breakfast so we move on through to a dining room on the other side. Deluxe features authentic items from diners of yesteryear. Salt and pepper cellars, coffee mugs, vinyl chairs and formica-topped. chrome bound tables are mix and match. There are a few kitschy items around such as a rotary phone, lamps, an old toy car or two, artful and not overdone.

Deluxe 003Deluxe’s menu, right out of the 1960’s with just the right amount of creative updating, reminds me a bit of Cafe Zuzu in the Valley Ho resort in Phoenix, Arizona. A good read, this menu. Takes us a few minutes to make an informed decision. Our waitress, in sneakers and pedal pushers, could only be more genuine on roller skates. She delivers a good cup of coffee and takes our orders. Crispy fried potato pancake for me, and meatloaf hash for Rob. I make several substitutions with which she happily notes, “No Problem”.

My crispy pancake is a ginormous potato rosti, crispy as advertised and tasty, topped with a dollop of sour cream, fresh green onion and the over medium egg I added. The generous portion of very good “Canadian” bacon, salty and lightly sweet, substituted for the chicken or chorizo sausage choices on the menu, nicely rounds out my breakfast. Fried Roma tomatoes are offered as a vegetarian substitute to the meat on this menu item. I request them as well. This was my only misstep. The tomatoes are lightly grilled and would have benefited from a long, slow pan fry to blister the skins and caramelize the sugars.

Deluxe 006Rob’s sublime, red pepper jelly topped slice of moist, well seasoned meatloaf is so good, he only offers me one bite.  The generous slice, accompanied by a skillet of potato/spinach hash is excellent on all counts.

Deluxe 005We are off on a short road trip to Banff today to see what we missed due to our late arrival via train last Tuesday. A quick trip to the Ladies transports you to 1966. Cut glass mirrors, powder blue commode and sink and an Alfred Hitchcock movie poster leaves you smiling on your way out.

Deluxe 010

Cowtown BBQ!

Finally made Calgary last night by midnight. We are looking forward to seeing what Calgary has to eat. BBQ seems perfect for an early lunch. Seafood and  snow crab are also featured on the menu. Booker’s, a cavernous joint is our first stop. Sufficiently scruffy outside, slick and industrial chic inside, a bank of flatties lights up the bar, funky art and a Jim Beam guitar grace the walls. Buddy Holly, Johnny Rivers, Elvis, SRV and Clapton echo through the towering space.

Bookers 001We order up a couple of local beers, Grasshopper, a nice refreshing wheat beer and an app of burnt ends. The burnt ends arrive quickly. They are tasty, prized cubes of brisket but mostly fat. Rob says this is exactly how they are every time he has tried them. Two are enough for me.

Bookers 007Our mains, BBQ smoked chicken for me and St. Louis ribs for Rob arrive literally on top of our appetizer. Not sure if the poor spacing was due to a virtually empty restaurant at 12:30 on a Wednesday or because we ordered them after we told her what we wanted for mains.

Bookers 004Entrees come with BBQ standards of corn on the cob and baked beans. Whipped potatoes replace potato salad. My perfectly smoked chicken, moist with smoky pink meat, has toughened skin from the smoker. The Kansas City sauce which lends a delicious sweet heat remedies this. Rob’s ribs are excellent, tasty and well smoked. A good smoke ring balanced by a sweet maple bourbon BBQ sauce.

Bookers 008The beans are homemade, decent BBQ beans. They are not very sweet and don’t appear to have any bacon or brisket added. They are not to my preference and I leave them. The potatoes are bland and unseasoned. They could uses a good deal more butter. On second thought. It’s BBQ. stop being creative and serve potato salad as god intended. The corn is a nice surprise. This is usually a throw away item that does nothing more than add colour to a plate full of meat. Bookers corn is dropped into boiling water for 5 when ordered. Fresh, sweet, toothsome. Not mushy like 99% of other BBQ joints. No bread is served. BBQ demands bread.

Bookers 009