Food trucks have been around for a number of years — a lot longer than you might think. The New York Times states they hail back to 1872 when a man from Rhode Island started selling sandwiches, pies and coffee to journalists and press men who were working late.
The modern food truck craze began in 2008 in Los Angeles with a Korean barbeque truck. Kogi BBQ set the standard for food trucks as it offered a fusion-style food, like many food trucks offer now.
Today, food trucks have taken off with websites like the foodtruckleague.com and roaminghunger.com where you can find and book your favorite food trucks. The trucks have even made their way to Utah — for example, there is an ice cream truck in Trolley Square called Normal Ice Cream. I highly recommend it, but go early if you want a specialty item.
Maybe food trucks are more delicious than they are good for you.
Basic nutrition says there are three kinds of food that provide energy: fat, protein and carbs. Once you get past this simple fact, everything becomes chaos in figuring out what you need and how much of it. The following is my opinion based off of what I learned in Nutrition 1010.
All is not equal in the world of food. Fats have the highest concentration of energy at nine calories per gram as opposed to protein and carbohydrates, which both have four calories per gram. This is slightly distressing since both fat and carbs are irresistably delicious. One thing most people can agree on is you need all three. Some suggest that a healthy diet is 40 to 60 percent carbs, 25 to 35 percent healthy fat and 15 to 25 percent protein. Before everyone panics, this is variable depending on lifestyle, budget and other factors. Most importantly though, you can, in fact, eat this kind of balanced plate at a food truck.
So let’s take a look at some of the food trucks that make appearances at the University of Utah to see what types of foods are out there.
Located on Library Plaza, the Bento Truck is my favorite. Items range from $5 to $10, and it offers everything from drinks, to bowls, to boxes. Each order has a healthy base of carbs, either rice or noodles. Then, Bento throws in a protein of your choice (chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu). Lastly, your meal is topped off with some vegetables and a sauce. This meal has more unhealthy fats than healthy fats from the looks of it, but it gets you your carbs and protein, so two out of three isn’t bad.
Next comes Falafel Tree. Falafel is made with chickpeas, which are a source of healthy fat, protein and carbohydrates. It is also a staple in vegan and gluten-free diets. It’s healthy even before they put anything on top, presuming you ignore the whole deep frying thing. Now you can put tomatoes, hummus, lettuce or garlic on top and you have some carbs — and even in the form of veggies, so way to go. If you don’t feel like being healthy, just grab your carbs in the form of garlic fries; starches are important, too. For those seeking the ultra healthy option, there is salad as well. Prices range from $1.50 for the pita bread to $10.95 for the mega platter.
This truck originated in Utah and has since become a growing success. Similar to Kogi BBQ, it offers a fusion of Korean and barbeque. Like the Bento Truck, items are rice-based. Some have sweet potato noodles with protein and veggies on top. Cupbop’s prices are similar to the Bento truck. You can find Cupbop near the Union.
Up next is the Chow truck, which claims to be Utah’s most awarded food truck. I can’t speak to the truth of that, but I can tell you this truck offers variety. They have three staples: tacos, sliders and salads, all of which you can customize with protein. They also offer delicious sides, like quesadillas, calamari, dumplings, legendary chips, potstickers, breakfast burritos and even Ruby Snap cookies. The pricing for this truck is a little tricky because additional preferences can add up. The most expensive option is $12 and the rest depends on the size of your stomach.
Hot Bahn Truck
The Hot Bahn truck is known for lovers of pho. Pho, pronounced “fuh,” is a Vietnamese noodle soup. It has broth, rice noodles, veggies and whatever protein you chose. This particular meal is perfect for a cold day. If the soup sounds unappetizing to you, sandwiches range in price from $7 to $10. This food truck offers a fairly healthy option of carbs, protein and veggies. The broth contains additional fats.
Tandooria has Thai and Indian cuisine. I am a wimp when it comes to spicy food, but others might enjoy it. Tandooria’s staple is curry. You are likely to walk away with something rice based with various spices.
Other Trucks to Try
Sometimes you can spot other trucks, like Melty Way or Donut Kabobs, if you’re lucky. Melty Way is a food truck that serves gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches for about $10 each. Donut Kabobs does not make frequent appearances on campus, but I am a huge advocate for it to come back. Donut Kabobs serves tiny fried donuts coated in powdered sugar or cinnamon and topped with the most delicious magic.