After a long morning of horrific Nothing beats walking through a crowded market, the nip of a winter wind on your nose and a chocolate avocado smoothie in one hand, a fusion sushi roll in the other. Hey, why not? Our local brick-and-mortar restaurants are all well and good, but sometimes eating from a food truck is a good change of pace, especially now that there are so many options and chances to do so.
Regular gatherings of food trucks happen across the county, but the two that have made a regular out of me take place at the Pacific View Mall’s parking lot adjacent to Trader Joe’s and, although now in hiatus, at the Poinsettia Pavilion.
On a slightly chilly Friday evening, my wife and I perused the menus, some handwritten in chalk, some printed, pinned to the side of the dozen or so food trucks lined up in a circle-the-wagons formation in the mall’s parking lot. If a restaurant were to fit as many options as there were here onto a menu, they’d be accused of overreaching. As it is, the Midtown Ventura Food Truck Friday nights and others like it represent a kind of New Age food court where real chefs can experiment and the epicureans within us act as willful test subjects.
If it is worldly you’re after, seek no food truck other than ConFusion Sushi Roll Tacos, a hip fusion of Japanese style with Filipino taste. Chefs Mateo Belzano and Robert Banaay lit up the Ventura scene when their truck launched last year, offering rolls stuffed with butter pork, candied bacon or even Buffalo-style chicken, and their Filipino comfort foods are the stuff hangover cures are made of.
We went for a ConFusion Roll Combo: a six-piece sushi roll stuffed with candied bacon, avocado, serrano crab and cilantro topped with one of the six signature fillings (butter pork, Korean bulgogi cheese steak, to name two). With the candied bacon already in the roll, we selected the cherry chipotle longaniza, a Spanish-style sweet sausage similar to chorizo, topped with a napa cabbage pineapple slaw ($12 with an egg roll and drink, $8 a la carte).
To quote Ken Griffey Jr., “It’s like there’s a party in my mouth and everyone’s invited!” The initial impression is one of the truck’s namesake: confusion. Sweet sausage and candied bacon, followed by avocado and cherry with a spicy kick, give the palate a thorough workout. This is Crossfit for the taste buds.
Also on the menu is the humbly named consilig, a dish meant as comfort food. Call it a new Ventura County tradition: Spam fried garlic rice with a choice of one of the signature fillings piled high with an egg on top ($12/8). Ask your mom to make it for you and you’re sure to get a paddlin’. Ask a ConFusion chef to make it, and the dude will abide.
Tucked away in the corner, oftentimes you’ll find the Good to Go Mobile Juice truck, churning out the no doubt healthiest items on any food-truck menu near or far.
We visited the juice truck at a Poinsettia Pavilion food-truck event a few months ago, and since have stopped for a refresher on morning walks near Surfer’s Point, where the truck is often stationed.
Overlooking the Ventura beach and the early morning sun waking up the Channel Islands, we couldn’t be bothered to see the majesty of nature as we were pondering the inner workings of a chocolate avocado smoothie.
The name is simple and implies an odd pairing: raw cacao and avocado blended with almond milk, banana and agave. Like our experience with Filipino-themed sushi, however, it turns out that avocado is a fruit utilized as such in other parts of the world; and when paired with chocolate, it turns into a brilliant facsimile of the best chocolate pudding one could muster, without the unnecessary saturated fat or sugar.
The raw cacao and the avocado are both chock-full of the good kind of nutrition, as are the other options on the menu. The “What’s Up Doc?” juice is a carrot, orange, cauliflower and ginger energy booster and “The Beet Mint” will have you questioning the role of beets in your life, blended with apple, cucumber, fennel and mint.
Each juice is $6 for a 12-ounce or $7 for 16.
It’s really a one-two punch with food trucks. In one instance, you’re drowning in that good kind of shame, having eaten your weight in a chef’s mad creation; the next, you’re proud of yourself for consuming your daily intake of fruit and vegetables in one fell swoop. It all evens out in the end.
Long live the food trucks.
Chris O’Neal is an eater, a drinker and a space cowboy. Follow him on Instagram @agentoneal.