2013 is the year Ottawa finally jumped on the exciting food truck bandwagon that most major cities have already embraced. Offerings include BBQ, Texan, Korean and Indian among others. Rob and I have been awaiting the opening of the Gongfu Bao food cart for some time. When Ottawa announced the introduction of these new restos on wheels back in May, we headed to the corner of Elgin and Slater for a quick lunch. Alas the cart was not to be found. I started stalking them on Facebook and learned that they were not operational, working out kinks, waiting for the cart and on and on. I soon forgot about them. Then finally in August they are up and running.
Today the dog and I walked over, braving threatening weather. Rob was meeting us there between meetings. When I arrive at 11:30 there is a small line up. I’m eighth in line. They are a half hour late getting started. The young man taking orders in line says the steamer takes at least 10 minutes to get to temperature and then it has to cook the buns. Gonfu offered up two steamed buns today, Maple Charsiu Pork Bao and a Tofu Spinach Curry bun. Those of you who know me know I wrote tofu off last year after many failed attempts to like it, and so I ordered us two of the pork buns with the Killer Slaw. I actually ordered twice, because when the line was only 10, the young man asked us what we wanted so they could get going. He then came around 15 minutes later with a pen and paper and did the same thing over again. When all was said and in my hand to be gobbled, I had waited in line for 40 minutes. I’m glad I do not have the office job most people in line were trying to get back to.
We settled down on a nearby bench with fellow bao dinners and dug in. The Killer Slaw is well, …killer. Excellent. Tangy with a bit of heat, crunchy with paper thin mandolined vegetables, peanuts and crispy fried onion. The bao itself was decent. I would prefer a little thinner, stickier dough. The bbq pork interior was plentiful, tasty and sweet. Did not detect any discernible maple, but it was quite flavorful. $20 for two buns, slaw and two locally made ginger beers.
The Gongfu cart offers good value and pretty good fare. Would I wait 40 minutes in line for it again? No. I was really waiting for this particular rolling resto to get up and running. I sincerely hope the young guys putting their heart and souls into this enterprise succeed, but they really need to get organized and open on time. People are fairly patient in this city but they, for the most part have to eat and return to work and other options are plentiful. Located at Confederation Park, corner of Slater and Elgin Streets