VANCOUVER - “C’est qui la gourmande?!” A small boy raises his hand and I reach out of the truck to give him a piping hot Nutella crêpe. “Bon appétit!” I yell. He smiles shyly but is more interested in the food than me.
Today is easy. Outside a Vancouver French immersion school, we produce basic crepes for a few hundred kids and a bunch more savoury crêpes for a handful of teachers. The process of stuffing, flipping and folding the orders is more stressful within the tight confines of the travelling kitchen.
But at the end of the day, when I sit outside the truck, hummus dripping down my chin from an overflowing Moroccan chicken buckwheat crêpe I have for my lunch, I finally taste what all the fuss is about. This is one of the most satisfying lunches I’ve had in a long time.
When we’re done, we wipe the truck down until it’s sparkling and zip through the city in the big green truck, the kitchen rattling in the back and the ocean beside us lit by the setting sun.
Above: Writer Gillian Young takes a well deserved rest after a day of serving up food from a food truck.
I walk home through East Van and Chinatown sweaty, tired, smelling like butter and feeling happy and satisfied, thinking you can take the girl out of France, but you can’t stop her from finding a way to get paid to yell in French and put Nutella on everything.
Working on Ze Bite food truck has been one of my greatest experiences since moving back to Vancouver. The city is changing. It is more colourful and flavourful than it’s been in years, partly due to the ever-growing food truck scene. If you happen to be in Vancouver and need a good lunch in between exploring our beautiful beaches and mountains, here are some food trucks worth hunting down:
YOLKS: Forget grabbing a cardboard muffin from a coffee shop to start your day. Yolks provides real breakfast on the go, including a double-smoked bacon, free-range egg Benedict on a ciabatta, smothered in a perfect hollandaise.
JOHNNY POPS: Johnny’s Pops has quickly become a Vancouver favourite. The all-natural fruit popsicles it offers are jam packed with flavour but not preservatives. The blueberry mojito is like having berries and mint make love to your mouth.
FAT DUCK: If you love rich food, hit up the Fat Duck for a Duck Confit “Philly” Style sandwich. The small menu also offers pulled pork and melt-in-your-mouth pork belly dishes, all whipped up with an Asian twist and a side of homemade potato chips. It’s a great way to tame your lunchtime hunger beast.
TASER GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES: A simple grilled cheese sandwich becomes sophisticated when Taser steps it up with flavourful combinations like Swiss gruyere and cheddar melted on caramelized onions and smoked bacon on sourdough. Worth standing in line for, even in the rain.
BLUE SMOKE BBQ: Run by a husband and wife team who specialize in North Carolina style BBQ. Try “The Squealer,” a pulled pork sandwich (which is chopped, southern-style), or “Eat Street Q Bowl,” without the bread. All the meat is local, sustainable and smoked in house.
JUICE TRUCK: Healthy fast food can be hard to come by, but the Juice Truck makes it easy to get your fruits and vegetables whipped into colourful fresh concoctions in a glass. “The Green Smoothie,” kale blended with spinach, avocado, banana, and more, is my go-to when I need to feel virtuous.
Left: The quality of food served by Vancouver food trucks is second to none. Right: You can tell hor good a food truck is by how long the lineup is.
VIJ’S RAILWAY EXPRESS: Vikram Vij’s restaurant is known to be the best Indian food on the continent, so if you don’t have time to eat at the restaurant, grab one of his flavourful curries or a succulent butter chicken schnitzel from the truck. Vij pushes the boundaries of what people expect from traditional Indian food.
JJ’S TRUCKETERIA: Filipino comfort food at its best. This truck delivers more choices than most but the size of the menu does not affect quality. All dishes, including the BBQ Pork, Garlic Fried Rice, BBQ Pork Garlic Fries, Garlic Rice and a delicious Vegan Market Bowl, are created using mostly local and seasonal ingredients, and all the sauces are made from scratch. And the bonus is that it’s one of the most budget friendly food trucks in the city.
CULVER CITY SALADS: Another food truck that makes it surprisingly easy to eat a healthier lunch. Enjoy a variety of salads with a base of quinoa, soba noodles or brown rice. The portions are generous and the Creamy Green dressing with miso, tahini, parsley, apple cider vinegar and garlic is dreamy.
KABOOM BOX: The place to hit up for some of the city’s best seafood. The former executive chef at Coast left his position to open this bright red food cart. Don’t miss the fish and chips or the grab-and-go oyster Po’Boy. •
If you’re heading to Vancouver, use the Street Food App streetfoodapp.com/Vancouver to locate your favourite food trucks.