Chomping the Chomp Chomp Truck

Categories: Mobile Meals
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Dave Lieberman
Singaporean food is not exactly commonplace in Orange County; there are exactly zero Singaporean restaurants here, and even Los Angeles is not teeming with stalls dishing up chilli crab, Hainan chicken rice and popiah. So it was exciting to hear of the Chomp Chomp truck, a new, OC-based food truck dedicated to Singaporean food.

Look at this truck. It looks like it should be serving chili five-ways (a sly reference to the Cincinnati Bengals-like truck wrap), not interpretations of Singaporean food. But it is one of the more Tweeted-about trucks in Orange County at the moment.

Chomp Chomp was stopped at the OC Great Park farmers' market recently, and fortuitously, it was lunchtime. The names evoked hawker-stall food, but what came out was a mishmash of proto-Singaporean food and good, old-fashioned, American portable food.

Case in point: The chilli crab slider was not fiery, slick appendages of crustacean, but a normal crab cake slathered with a much-too-sweet chili sauce on an overtoasted bun, then topped with a dry, slightly sour slaw that sapped any remaining fire from the dish. Despite the depredations visited upon it, the crab cake was of high quality, not jammed full of binder, and shone through the sandwich. The "root chips" promised in the description came from a bag; it would have been more interesting had the chips been made in-house. Bagged chips are fine for a truck, but an opportunity was lost here, and the sandwich itself is in need of a serious rehab.

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Dave Lieberman
Much better was chicken satay: pieces of dark-meat chicken marinated in a sauce with more than a passing nod to curry paste, threaded on skewers, and grilled until that magical moment when the meat is both slightly charred and juicy. It came with a large puddle of slightly gelatinous peanut sauce (reminiscent of Lee Kum Kee bottles) and a sturdy pile of rice cubes, a take on lontong, the pressed rice of Singapore and Malaysia. The rice was coconut-flavored, and the taste complemented the peanut sauce so well that a side order of the rice should have been in order.

Kaya French toast was a takeoff on the Singaporean sweet treat of plain toast with kaya (a concoction of coconut, eggs, pandan leaf and sugar that's like a very thick custard), with the kaya stuffed into French toast. This was actually an improvement on the original; the kaya was a great choice for stuffing inside normal French toast.

Prices are reasonable, and portions are very large. The food came out within a reasonable period after ordering, but on both visits, there was hardly anyone at the truck; it's easy to imagine them getting in the weeds at a festival like OC Foodie Fest. More important would be to have all parts of a normal-sized order come up at the same time.

The truck is worth a stop if convenient, but to call it "street hawker food" is disingenuous, even with the trailing description "with American twist." The disappointment stems mostly from the letdown after the promise of the only Singaporean food in the county; sadly, the search for true Singaporean food must needs continue and may never be realized without a trip to the steaming-hot island itself.

Follow the Chomp Chomp Truck on Twitter at @ChompChompTruck or on its Facebook page; it does not have a website.

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4 comments
Robertz
Robertz

Hello Dave, I am Robert one of the partners.We take quality very seriously at Chomp Chomp and will not compromise our customer experience at the truck. It is with regret that this has happened. We have taken immediate action to address our quality control and operation flow as well as discipline the employees from this day. (we let them run a shift by themselves without an owner... Backfire!) Our passion and goal is to make sure Chomp Chomp continues to thrive and is a great truck to visit and follow. We really appreciate your input and agree with your points so we can continue to improve.These are not even close tour standards when we are on board. Employees got way behind, had root chips on board but could not fry them. We will now be operating with three employees at our large stops. The last few weeks Great Park has been light traffic but it picked up now.It has been a wonderful journey since Nov 2010. Please come see us again at one of our events and give us another chance to make it right. Robert, Gina and Shaun

Amshi45
Amshi45

This truck was at the OCNYE preview and of the 4 trucks we tried this was our favorite!! We had the chicken satay and loved the rice cubes & the slaw that came with it. Even my friend who is very picky loved it....following them where ever they go so I can get some more

QueerInMySoup.com
QueerInMySoup.com

More slider with that charcoal?

Over-toasted bread notwithstanding, I'm still curious about this truck since it comes highly recommended by many folks on the web & a few of my friends.

And, it really is a true shame that there aren't more Indonesian eateries, bricks & mortar or otherwise. I'm sure I'll enjoy their fare, but I won't have the knowledge or experience to compare it to its traditional counterpart (probably a good thing).

Diamond Dog
Diamond Dog

I know you put yourself on the line when you do a somewhat negative review, but I appreciate it so much. Thanks Dave for your honesty.

Just seems like lots of reviewers let how nice the owner / chef is, the decor, the uniqueness, etc influence their reviews And it usually leans on the side of making the food seem better than it is.

I also appreciate the in depth description of how the food tastes. Detail by detail . Things like this seem to be somewhat missing from this bog.

Great Job Dave.

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