With all this garbage talk from NYC to LA about city officials revoking food truck permits, I decided to go out and support SF food trucks yesterday. Supporting them, meaning, EATING LUNCH. It's the best kind of support, right? Viva La Food Truck!
Since my friends Travis and Claire had told me about Chairman Bao, a truck dedicated to the ever-holy HOT ASIAN BUN, I've been wanting to track them down.
I showed up at 1:15pm, parked on the corner of Irwin and 7th Street. The truck only had 15 more minutes til closing time, but the hungry masses were still coming up to the truck. They opened just a month ago, and business is doing well!
I wanted to order everything on the menu, but I refrained. There are only six kinds of the buns, which is perfect. I hate too many choices! $3 per bao sounded a bit pricey to me for a HOT ASIAN BUN, but when I got my order, I understood. These are some hefty buns!
Remember those HOT ASIAN BUNS from Chicago? Well, these were more the pancake sandwich variety (gua bao), over the char siu baos, the dim sum favorite. I started with the pork belly with pickled daikon.
The pork was crispy around the edges, and the pickles cut the grease. AWESOME.
One of my two pieces of daikon fell to the ground. Sad, sad, sad.
Chinese sausage and green onion omelet with hoison.
This was my favorite of the two. It's perfect for people who appreciate the breakfast sandwich. I had already had a scramble in the morning, which tells you something about my unhealthy obsession for eggs.
After my lunch, I started talking to the girl who was taking orders in the truck. Caroline was so friendly and we spoke for a while about Chairman Bao, how it started, and food trucks in general. She said that their prep kitchen was right there on Irwin, in the big building where the truck was parked.
Then Eric Rudd, the guys who operates the truck (and a chef in his own right), came out and I got to talk to him for more insight into the SF food truck scene. He said that there was still little competition in SF thus far for food trucks, and the community support for Chairman Bao and trucks in general has always been great. How was the support from the city council?, I asked. He said, "The officials have all been really cool."
In this volatile climate for food trucks in LA and NYC, that's a huge relief! From talking to Eric, it sounds like there should not be any foreseeable governmental food truck issues for the time being. (Don't jinx it, Kayoko!)
But ironically, Chairman Bao is mangled in some coast-to-coast drama of its own. I guess the owner/chef of NYC's Baohaus is battling The Chairman over its name, Chairman Bao-- which is the name of one of Baohaus' bestselling buns. Bleh. Whatever. Unless you have a trademark, buddy, you're just being lame. (Although I guess I'd be super pissed if someone else started Umamimart dot net). Anyway, they are supposed to have some sort of battle soon (or not?), where their HOT ASIAN BUNS go head-to-head. BAO-OFF!
The truck was designed and painted by LA artist James Jean. Totally thought it was Obey. My bad!
The truck was started and run by a company called Mobi Munch, which funds food truck ideas. Chairman Bao is their second venture; their first being LudoBites in LA. Pretty neat!
Let me conclude with a little story: The moment I started eating (ok, scarfing down) my HOT ASIAN BUN, a handsome guy walked up to the truck. I recognized him. I flipped through the very skimpy, yet pretty reliable Rolodex in my mind. OMG TOMMY GUERRERO. Skateboarder/guitarist extraordinaire. オーエムジー。
Dear Tommy, The girl in the red and white striped shirt yesterday with the camera and gross hair? NOT ME. Kanitra, Matt and I tried to see you once years ago at Union Pool in Williamsburg, but we got there too late and you were closing shop. I'm sorry about that. I live here now so hope to catch you soon! Your fan, Kayoko. PS- Thank you for recycling.
Follow The Chairman on Twitter. Duh. Aside from lunch, they park in front of the bar John Collins in the SOMA district, often for happy hour. Looks like they'll be on California and Sabin today, so go get your HOT ASIAN BUN on, SF! Need to try the duck confit one next and compare to DChang's. That'll be my own Bao-Off.
Special thanks to Caroline and Eric for taking the time to talk to me yesterday. In The Chairman's words: VIVA LA FOOD TRUCK REVOLUCIÓN!