I finally got a chance to go an Off The Grid event in San Francisco, which is a congregation of roaming gourmet food trucks. These roaming food trucks congregate at different sites throughout the city on a set weekly schedule known as Off The Grid Markets. Usually, there are anywhere from 6 to 10 trucks at these Off The Grid Markets. But on Fridays from 5 to 10 pm at Fort Mason Center, there are usually 30 trucks and tents at this Off The Grid Market event. I decided to go to the Fort Mason Off The Grid (OTG) because I thought it would give me the best selection of gourmet eats since this event had the most number of food trucks there.
The Fort Mason OTG is a popular event. I would recommend going right at 5pm when it starts if you want to avoid the crowds. We got there around 6pm and it was starting to get busy already. By the time we left at around 8pm, it was so crowded we could hardly move around and the line ups at the trucks for food were getting pretty long.
I didn’t have much time to research about all the food trucks that were going to be at the Fort Mason OTG. Fortunately for me, my foodie friend from Vancouver, Grayelf, happened to be visiting San Francisco the week before and was at the Fort Mason OTG event. She gave me the low down on the event and told me what her favourites were. Her research helped me immensely as there was no way I would have been able to try something from every truck given that there were 30 trucks and tents there. Thanks, Grayelf!
From the Brass Knuckle, we ordered two items – the Raw DMC ($4), which consisted of tuna tartare (aka poke) on a wonton crisp; and the Prawns & Roses ($3.50), which was a crispy prawn taco. My friends and I thought the Raw DMC was just ok. The tuna tartare was rather bland. There was no wow factor to it. It was just a bunch of chopped red tuna cubes tossed with nori (seaweed) strips, black sesame, diced scallions, and fried garlic chips served on wonton crisps. These ingredients along with the wonton crisp gave it a nice texture but didn’t add much flavour. I thought the Prawns & Roses tasted better. I liked the crispy fried noodles that the prawn was coated in. The vegetable slaw gave the taco a nice crunch.
Next I went to The Taco Guys for their Maui (Fish) Taco ($5). Grayelf had recommended it as her top bite of the evening so it was definitely on my list to try. The Maui Taco consisted of deep-fried rock cod topped with savoy slaw, pico de gallo, sriracha mayo, and pickled onions. I definitely agree with Grayelf that this was the top bite of the evening. The deep-fried rock cod was moist and juicy. I loved how the textures of the toppings blended together. The taco has a fresh, tropical taste to it. The taco was served with a choice of two salsa verdes – one made from tomatillos and the other from poblano chilies. I chose the one made from tomatillos which was a bit milder as I didn’t want the salsa to overpower the rest of the other flavours. My friends and I liked this Maui Taco so much that we ended up getting one each instead of sharing.
For dessert, I was so happy to finally be able to try the creme brulee from the creme brulee cart. I’d be following the creme brulee man on Twitter for about a year now hoping that when I’m in San Francisco, I’d be able to catch up with him and try some of his creme brulee. I didn’t get a chance during my visit last summer as the cart is at a different location every day and it was never close by to where I was.
All the creme brulees were $4 each. I ordered two flavours to try – the Si, Por Favor! (nutella & strawberries) and the Vanilla Bean. While the nutella & strawberries sounded really good on paper, I was surprised that it was not my favourite of the two. I thought it was a bit sweet for my taste and quite heavy. I liked the Vanilla Bean one as it was quite light and delicate in flavour. I thought both creme brulees were well made and had a nice texture. As much as I enjoyed this Vanilla Bean creme brulee, I wouldn’t say it’s the best vanilla bean creme brulee I’ve ever had. (In case you’re curious, the most memorable vanilla bean creme brulee I ever had was at the Lumiere Tasting Bar in Vancouver, British Columbia when Chef Rob Feenie was still at the helm.)
For our second dessert, we stopped by Azalina’s tent for some Malaysian/Penang style desserts. We tried the Chai Banana Fritters with Coconut Jam ($5). The fritters were tasty but a little on the doughy side. I was a little disappointed as they were not exactly what I was expecting in terms of texture. They reminded me a lot of the ebelskivers (Scandinavian spherical pancakes) that I make for breakfast at home, except with a banana filling. I couldn’t really taste any Chai in the fritters. My friend didn’t really care for them either. They were ok but there was no wow factor. I probably wouldn’t order them again as there are so many other things I could try.
In addition to all the food, I stopped by the Magnolia tent to try some local craft beer. I tried both the Spud Boys IPA (Indian Pale Ale) and the Wit Rabbit. The Wit Rabbit, as its name suggests, is a Belgium-style wit beer. This one was my favourite of the two. It was very light, citrusy and had a crisp and clean finish. It paired very nicely with the food, especially the Maui fish taco. The Wit Rabbit reminded me a lot of the Belgium beer, Hoegaarden. The Spud Boys IPA was a British-style IPA with a bitter hop finish. I liked the Spud Boys IPA less as I found the pronounced bitter finish hard to pair with the food. I guess I should have paid a little closer attention to the little pink hearts on the sign. That should have given me a good clue as to which one was everyone’s favourite.
Overall, I thought my trip to the Fort Mason OTG event was a success. I had a great time sampling the food from the different food trucks and tents. Next time I’d definitely go right when it starts at 5pm to avoid the crowds and line ups. That Maui Taco from The Taco Guys is definitely one of the best fish tacos I’ve had.
Off The Grid @ Fort Mason
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA