Ludo Fried Chicken is a Truck Worth Chasing
There is not much I can say about the infamous Chef Ludo that you couldn’t read in the L.A. Times or the New York Times or the L.A. Weekly, or in the millions of blog posts that have been written about him. But I will say this- the prospect of an under $10 Ludo lunch is especially exciting to me. When he introduced his ham and cheese sandwich at Gram & Papa’s downtown I got a little giddy… but ham and cheese is child’s play compared to fried chicken. So once it was announced that Ludo would be taking his famous fried chicken to the streets permanently, the official stalking began.
There have been sporadic sightings over the past few months (like the one a few weeks ago at the Tuesday only LAX food truck lot) but lately it feels like they’re finally gearing up for an official launch. They’ve even posted a schedule to their Facebook page and a menu to their MobiMunch page, so when I saw they were going to be parked on the westside for lunch yesterday I had to go check it out. (Fat man likey fried chicken.)
After months of testing out different recipes and formulations it appears as if the truck has settled on three different fried chicken options. Provencal Pepitte (aka “balls”), honey garlic wings, and chicken fingers- which can be ordered ala carte or as a sandwich. There is also slaw, fries, honey lavender biscuits, and four different kinds of dipping sauce (BBQ, honey mustard, bernaise and piquillo.) I don’t think the prices are totally set in stone yet, but yesterday it was 2 pieces of chicken plus slaw for $6. 3 pieces w/ slaw for $8.75, and you could add fries for just $2.25 more (a 25 cent discount.) And you can mix and match the types of chicken within a single combo.
We went with 2 balls, and one honey wing… and even though we didn’t pay for fries with this combo, they threw a few in there for some reason. The “Provencal pepitte” (aka balls) is the OG Ludo fried chicken… the thing that The Guru called one of the 99 Things You Have to Eat Before You Die. I first tried one of these balls at one of the LFC pop ups that Ludo did after his chicken was so well received at the Downtown L.A. Street Food Fest back in February, and I have to admit I was completely underwhelmed. It’s not that they tasted bad, it’s that I wasn’t expecting boneless balls! With all the hype surrounding this chicken, I was expecting…well… real fried chicken. Plus I think paying $18 for 3 balls and 2 Akasha side dishes (thanks but no thanks) was also off putting.
But after trying them again yesterday, from a truck, with Ludo slaw (and knowing what I was getting into) I can say I was totally wrong. I love Ludo’s balls. Imagine the best, most juicy pieces of chicken (aka the thigh), molded into ball form, covered in a perfectly seasoned batter and deep fried. You get a free dipping sauce, but no sauce is necessary for these. Just eat them plain.
The honey garlic wings (here’s a photo of them from 3 weeks ago) are sticky and messy and completely delicious… provided you love garlic and black pepper, because these wings don’t hold back on either. I don’t know if I would get a whole order of them, but in a combo with the balls they provided a nice sweet and peppery alternative to the herb-y provencal pepitte.
There are also white meat chicken fingers, but why order them ala carte when you can get them in sandwich form (for $8.75.) Just like the Animal sandwich from Cart With a Cause (which was an homage to Bakesale Betty in Oakland), Ludo’s sandwich comes topped with his bright and flavorful cole slaw. The crust of the chicken is more typical than the crust on the balls, but it’s nice and crunchy and seasoned really well. But the real star might be the bread… a torpedo shaped roll of buttery goodness from Breadbar, that brings the whole thing together. $9 is kind of pricey for a sandwich that is not so much bigger than a jumbo hot dog roll, but damn was this thing good.
The fries were tasty, and well salted, but if you buy into the name on the menu (“perfect fries”) you might be disappointed. They were a bit on the thick side (if that’s your thing) but more than anything the fries provided the perfect vehicle for the dipping sauces- which could very well be what puts the Ludo truck over the top.
You would expect a Frenchman to know a thing about using mustard- so it’s no shock that the honey mustard is good. And the “bernaise” is super creamy, and has this great lemony kick to it. But what really caught us by surprise was the piquillo sauce. Not sure exactly what a piquillo pepper sauce should taste like, but this sauce had a great red pepper flavor, with a hint of fruitiness that was really surprising. I was a big fan.
Even though the fried chicken itself seems to have been perfected, I get the sense that not everything has been completely finalized at the Ludo Truck. The honey lavender biscuit is pretty dense and dry (it’s the one thing I wouldn’t order again) and the menu still hasn’t been printed (it was hand written). But if yesterday is any indication, this is a truck I’m going to want to keep stalking as it starts appearing more and more often on the streets of L.A.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I love Ludo! So excited his balls are finally going to be available full time from a truck
- The ludo fried chicken balls are like all the best bits of chicken pasted together in ball form.
- I love herbs de provence in my fried chicken
- I can never have too much garlic or black pepper, so the wings are perfect for me
- The sandwich is soooo good and buttery!
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It’s kind of pricey, isn’t it? $8.75 for a smallish fried chicken sandwich? I don’t think so
- I was expecting real on the bone fried chicken. These balls are weird.
- The balls don’t really go with any of the dipping sauces.
- Isn’t this guy French? I was hoping for “classic” pomme frites.
- The biscuits are terrible. So dense and dry. Really shocking.
- It’s good, but not worth driving across the city for.