A Curry on Wheels Truck is One of the Good Ones

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If the excitement for food trucks is on the decline here in L.A. nobody has bothered to tell prospective food truck entrepreneurs. Every time I hit up my favorite food truck lot for lunch it seems another (usually ridiculous) idea has placed itself on four wheels- from nachos to peanut butter topped hamburgers.  And while many early gourmet food truck fans have given up on finding anything of quality off of a truck that seems to have spent more time on their logo than researching their business plan, I still can’t help myself.  Sure, the relatively low barrier to entry has created a parade of mediocre trucks run by wannabe cooks who are in over their head- both financially and culinar-ally (yes, I just made that word up.)  But occasionally you stumble upon something so genius- I’m looking at you sushi burritos- or just plain tasty, that it restores your faith in the whole genre.  And if you work in an office near Mid Wilshire, or 26th & Pennsylvania, or Olympic and Bundy, or Overland and Washington, or 7th & Fig, being a snob about food trucks doesn’t really seem like an option.

So when I read on Grub Street that a new Japanese curry truck was hitting the street, I got a little excited.

If you work in certain areas of Los Angeles katsu curry isn’t particularly elusive.  There are a few decent versions on Sawtelle (in West L.A.), a great version in Koreatown, and I’m a big fan of the newly open Fat Spoon in the Little Tokyo section of Downtown.   But none of those places inspire so much loyalty that I wouldn’t be excited to see a truck parked right outside my office serving a decent (and cheap) serving of curry poured over a deep fried cutlet.

In a lot of ways curry is the perfect food truck dish.  It’s meant to be served as late night drinking food, or super fast comfort food, so the bar isn’t particularly high.  Even the best versions still resemble sludge, and most people will choose their favorite places just as much on the strength of the cutlets as the curry itself.  Thankfully for food truck defenders, Curry on Wheels delivers on both.

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For $8 you get your choice of beef or pork katsu, served over rice and topped with curry, shredded cabbage, and a bit of carrots and tomato.  The amount of meat you get is surprisingly large, especially for a food truck.  I got the beef, which was pounded extremely thin and fried to a nice brown crisp.  If you like your beef to be a little bit more like a nice steak, you will probably find their version way to thin and dry.  But I like my beef katsu a bit on the jerky side of things, and they nicely managed to keep the meat from being too chewy.  The curry itself- which they claim to make entirely from scratch- was nicely flavored, with a tiny hint of heat and a good consistency.  All in all I was pretty happy with my lunch.

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In addition to the two kinds of katsu, they also have kara-age which is also available as a curry platter for $8 or as a side for $3.  Freshly fried pieces of battered thigh meat, it’s probably not as good as your favorite kara age in L.A., but it was crunchy and tasty and I enjoyed every single bite.

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I also ordered the pork katsu, available as a side dish for $3, you know… for research.  I was hoping to get an idea of what the pork katsu curry was like, but the corn dog shaped lollipop of pork you get when you order the side dish was way thicker than the beef I had with my curry.  I have no idea if this is how they serve it with the curry, but if you like your katsu a bit thicker you’re probably safer ordering the pork.

A Curry on Wheels is probably not going to replace (insert your favorite katsu curry place here) as your favorite katsu curry place in L.A. And it’s likely not going to end up on anybody’s list of Best Food Trucks in the Country, or create the excitement of… let’s say… a sushi burrito.  After all, it’s just katsu curry.  But coming off a truck, for a $8, it didn’t disappoint.  And these days, that’s about the most you can ask for from a food truck.

They’re supposed to be parked on the miracle mile strip of Wilshire just east of Fairfax today, but you’ll want to check their Twitter or Facebook page to be sure.

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