Sunday, August 01, 2010

Friday Night Street Food with Off The Grid

I don't usually get into the city on a Friday night, but this past Friday I had the day off so I roamed San Francisco, filling time actually until the evening because that's when I could check out the new Off The Grid street fest at Fort Mason.

Off The Grid is a project of the San Francisco Cart Project, which promotes the white-hot food truck trend. A few weeks ago, it launched its Friday night specials at the Fort Mason parking lot, gathering a bunch of mobile food vendors (mostly with Asian and Latin influences) for a night of street food and fun.

The group of trucks and food vendors include some well-known guys around town, including Seoul on Wheels, Kung Fu Tacos, Chairman Bao, El Porteno's Empanadas, Kara's Cupcakes, and Creme Brulee Cart. There are also a few newbies like Onigilly (makers of the Japanese rice balls), Happy Dumplings, and Hapa SF (Filipino food). Off The Grid runs from 5 to 8 p.m. and there's a cash bar and live music. (Bring cash too, because most of the vendors only accept cash.)

Workers at the Happy Dumplings booth make fresh potstickers.

I started with a couple of tacos from the Kung Fu Tacos truck, including the Wu Shu Char Siu (vegetables and Chinese BBQ pork) and Mu Shu Veggies. The tacos sell for $2 to $3.

For some reason, the truck with the major line (and I mean major, probably a 30-to-45 minute wait) was the newish Chairman Bao, who serves up steamed and baked Chinese BBQ buns and specialty bun sandwiches like pulled pork.

I didn't bother waiting in line because I'm not big on a lot of carbs, but everyone seemed happy to wait for the buns like they were the only ones in town. (These people really need to visit Chinatown.)

There were so many foods that were tacos or heavily fried, so I ended up sticking with something safe, which is this Chicken BBQ rice bowl from Seoul on Wheels. This $5 bowl is a deal, and I loved the fresh home-made kim chee.

Off The Grid is a fun way to get the weekend started. The only downside is the fact that it's all the way at Fort Mason in the Marina. That's a far away place to get to, and on most summer nights, the Marina is foggy and windy. Which is what it was like this past Friday night. When a brief streak of sun shone through the clouds, people buzzed with excitement. So if you head out to Off the Grid (it happens only on Friday evenings), be sure to layer.

Off The Grid, Fort Mason, San Francisco, every Friday night from 5 to 8 p.m.


ruby said...

wow, this is definitely going on my list of things to do! kung fu tacos looks interesting & i'm always a sucker for rice balls, so i'd visit onigilly... how were the kung fu tacos though?

& i agree with you on the chinese buns -- at $3 apiece, people should just go to chinatown!

Carolyn Jung said...

I heard about this event. Looks like a blast. That's too funny that people were most excited about the baos. Hey, a new trend in the making? Baos -- the new cupcake! ;)

Single Guy Ben said...

Ruby, the Kung Fu tacos were ok. The filling was nice and fresh, although the char siu could have been more tender. But the veggies were good. I just felt the corn tortilla were tough. But if you're used to that, then you probably won't mind.

Carolyn, the baos definitely seemed like the next hot thing. But I bet if my mom ate it she'd think everyone in San Francisco was crazy for spending the big bucks for a bao.

foodhoe said...

I tried to get Mr. K out there on Friday, we had visiting dignitaries from Minnesota that would have been fun! I thought the same about Kung Fu tacos, good but not any better than a regular taco... Ft. Mason is way out there, I hope they really become mobile and start traveling out to the East Bay soon!

Anonymous said...

The place was jam packed this Fri, 8/7/10 around 7:00 p.m. Too many people and long long lines.