Flatiron Lunch: Cambodian Cuisine Torsu Truck Hits Flatiron
Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
We really try to listen to our readers. Especially when they are also our friends. So when news of a Cambodian truck in the Flatiron district popped up in the Forums AND my friend, Profiled Lunch’er “Jessica”, messaged me about it, I clearly had check it out a.s.a.p.
Before even going, I did some snooping online to try to scope out the menu and strategize about what to order. First, I found UltraClay’s post about visiting the truck near Washington Square Park one night. Based on his experience, I knew to avoid ordering the sandwich. On the truck’s own site, the rambling and sad story from the owner of Cambodian Cuisine Torsu, Jerry Ley, about being screwed out of a restaurant space in Brooklyn, was distracting. Not to mention, the Menu on Wheels page is pretty illegible. Taking all this into account, I went into the situation fairly unprepared, but with the comforting fact that I was supporting a struggling small business owner.
It was good I did some of this reading in advance so I could focus on the menu and food when I finally arrived at the truck. None of the menus I found in advance for Cambodian Cuisine Torsu Truck list prices, so the image above might be very useful in planning your order. The good thing to note is that nothing is over $5.95. I planned to meet two friends there on what happened to be one of the hottest days of year. This is material only because it took a few minutes to prepare our food while we melted in the sun, but also, because it meant that I ordered one of the strangest beverages I have ever had.
The tuek kark choos ($2.50) was even more odd the description made it sound. The description said “rainbow crushed ice with syrup, mung beans, black beans”, which was intriguing enough for a blistering hot day.
When it was handed to me, the drink included emerald green julienned gelatin, hot pink gummy spheres, and soaked mung beans (the only item that actually carried over from the description). With my friends, I tried desperately to figure out how black beans could turn hot pink, but we gave up and decided they had to be another type of gelatin. The crushed ice was still refreshing for a hot day.
On the other hand, the food was significantly less puzzling than the tuek kark choos. One friend ordered the charr kuey teo with tofu ($5.95) to make sure we got to try a noodle dish. Two out of three of us weren’t wowed by this dish, but the vegetables thrown in were a highlight for me. After we all had a taste, she confessed that it tasted a bit like a bland pad thai. I suggested it might just need a little hot sauce. Our other friend that liked it this dish is not a fan of spicy food, so that might explain the split decision.
I ordered the S.E.A. chhar kroeurng with chicken, hot & spicy basil, lemon grass, galangal (similar to ginger), onion, cabbage, and bell peppers over brown rice ($5.95). My dish was outstanding with the right proportions of chicken, vegetables, sauce and rice. I really loved tasting the layering of flavors in the rice soaked with sauce hanging around the bottom of my container. The friend that liked the charr kuey teo was only able to try one bite of my dish before the spice overpowered him.
He ordered the moen bom pong ($5.95), which the menu listed as crispy chicken in our hot-spicy sauce. In retrospect, it was a risky order for someone not into spicy food, but the heat in this dish was mild enough to not bother him. The chicken was not battered (perhaps only dusted with flour) before being fried. The taste lingered somewhere between buffalo wings and sweet and sour sauce. It was served with a small pile of lettuce and either white or brown rice.
Despite a few inconsistencies, we had a very enjoyable lunch from Cambodian Cuisine Torsu Truck. I am happy to know that Jerry seems to have found a more/less permanent home, and if we are lucky, he will be around for many years so
we I can learn more about Cambodian food.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love a huge container of spicy food for under $6.
- I don’t know much about Cambodian food, but this is the place to learn more.
- The food tastes better knowing that the owner loves what he does.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- What in the world is happening in this shaved ice drink?!?!
- I am not interested in fake pad thai from a Cambodian food truck.
- I won’t take a risk with the unpredictable spice levels.
Cambodian Cuisine Torsu Truck, Often Fifth Avenue btw 20th and 21st Streets. Check their twitter account for current location, no phone