This was the scene last evening in the parking lot of Ohio City's Momocho. Chef-Owner Eric Williams decided to celebrate his restaurant's five-year anniversary by giving his staff the night off, and throwing a big, old fashioned, play-with-your-food party in his restaurant parking lot with these behemoth guest chefs. The restaurant and patio were open, and staff from Chef Eric's other restaurant, The Happy Dog, tended bar, dispensing cold Tecate beer, zippy Margaritas, and wine, at celebratory prices.
Chef-Owner Rocco Whelan (Fahrenheit) Surveys the Scene From His Food Truck
Reading Facebook posts about the event earlier today inspired me to corral my husband and just go after I got home from work! And we were both glad that we did. The scene buzzed with positive energy, with total strangers enjoying one another's company as they played with their food.
Since we've both enjoyed Dim and Den Sum before, and I've sampled some of Umami Moto's food, we decided to start with the two trucks neither of us had yet tried. First up - Rocco Whelan's Fahrenheit - the name of both his brick-and-mortar Tremont restaurant and his food truck.
Leoncini Country Ham Fontina Sandwich and Pear Arugula Salad
I'm not always a big fan of ham - but this sandwich rocked! The gooey fontina cheese played nicely off of the salty ham, which had just the right amount of chew and a beautiful porkiness. With the buttery toast around the fillings, the sandwich melted in the mouth. The salad provided both crunch and astringency; a perfect counterpoint to the sandwich (and who doesn't love the combination of pear and fontina cheese?).
Crispy Potato Wedges Basil Parm EVOO
We loved this offering also - creamy, with a little bit of crispy texture, big potato flavor and just enough sharpness from the Basil.
Fruit Satay - Truffle Honey, Cashews, Captain Crunch
This inspired bit of fun playing with food combined warm fruit with both sweet and savory flavors, and a variety of textures. Yum.
We shared a burrito.
Tangy Carrot Pickle and Jalapeno Slices
Caribbean Burrito - Barbacoa Braised Pork, Jibaro Yellow Rice, Jerk Spice, Kale, Black Beans, Mango Salsa
This burrito = simply delicious. It hit all of the right notes - savory, spicy without being too hot, intensely flavorful, cooling sweetness from the mango, and textural contrasts - heck, it even had green leafy vegetables in it that tasted good! This was our first taste of Jibaro, but it will not be our last.
Umami Moto Menu (or what was left of it by the time I photographed it)
The item at the bottom that is blocked is "Vietnamese Meatballs." Speaking of which:
We really enjoyed these flavorful, meaty bites together with the dipping sauce, which as advertised offered a tantalizing combination of sweet and hot.
Fish Taco - Marinated Tilapia, Romaine Lettuce, Cilantro, Mint, Red Onion, Cucumber and Lime Aioli on Handmade Corn Tortilla
I would normally not buy tilapia in a street food setting (I'm not a huge tilapia fan in any setting), but as you saw above, the choices were limited. As Bob had never tried Umami Moto's food, I really wanted us to get two dishes, but we felt that the Pad Thai would have been too much food. I loved everything about this taco (especially the handmade corn tortilla and the Lime Aioli), except for the fish, which tasted like, well, frozen tilapia to me. Ironically, Dim and Den Sum ran out of food moments after Bob placed his order there, so we probably could and should have tried the Umami Moto Pad Thai instead, but that is sometimes how the tomato bounces. (The Pad Thai looked and smelled delicious as two of our impromptu table-mates enjoyed some; our loss).
Speaking of Dim and Den Sum:
Bob tried to get a Beef Sandwich and a Veggie Taco, but moments after he ordered - the white board was wiped mostly clean (BLT sandwiches were the only savory left) and his money was returned to him. Missed it by that much.
He was offered the following consolation prize:
Chocolate Cupcake with Minty Frosting
We tend to fill up on savories and not have room for dessert - but as it all worked out, this last sweet, chocolaty, creamy bite ended our meal perfectly.
Cleveland has spent a lot of time and effort fussing over food trucks lately; it was wonderful for Eric Williams to open up his place and his parking lot to showcase four of Cleveland's best. The perfect weather and expertly mixed margaritas added to the fun, and the food was almost all sold out by 8pm. But more than food and fun, we enjoyed a fabulous sense of community tonight in Momocho's parking lot - and that made the evening all the more tasty.
Speaking of tasty - be sure to get your tickets for a very special Dinner in the Dark to be held at AMP 150 on Monday, May 23, 2011 at 6:30 PM. This event is a benefit for the Matthew Finkel Scholarship Fund, and will offer food from fifteen of Cleveland's premier chefs and beverages from premier micro-breweries as well as wine. The benefit will also offer some amazing prizes for raffle, including the opporutinity to join the audience for filming of Iron Chef America this summer! Please visit DITD's Eventbrite page for all of the details, and to purchase your tickets.