Oct 18, 201212:23 PMTable Talk
Food trucks bring authentic tastes of Ethiopia and Vietnam
Always up for new food truck fare, I checked out two of Montgomery County’s latest entrants in the mobile feeding frenzy.
Mesob on Wheels
“Got injera?” it says on the front of Mesob on Wheels, the colorful food truck started by Nebeyou Lemma and his fiancée Pina Fisseha, who live in Silver Spring. Injera, of course, is the spongy, Spandex-like Ethiopian bread used to scoop up the spicy stews and vegetables that comprise the cuisine.
And that’s what you get when you order—no utensils, just injera, napkins and a couple of moist toilettes so your hands won’t smell like beef curry for the rest of the day.
Despite the portable wash-up, my hands continued to have a whiff of spicy lamb stew yesterday, long after I sampled Mesob on Wheels. But it served as a constant and wonderful reminder of my out-of-the-ordinary Bethesda lunch—fiery chunks of tender lamb and potatoes, tamed by a portion of yellow split peas, simmered in onions, garlic, ginger and other spices.
I ate it all out of a Styrofoam container in front of Barnes & Noble—obviously not from a mesob (the truck’s namesake, which is the communal basket that serves as the table at Ethiopian meals). But it was the real thing, prepared from the duo’s family recipes.
Lemma, a graduate of the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Columbia, Md. and Fisseha, a former bartender at La Tasca in the District’s Chinatown, are enthusiastic about sharing their native cuisine—and what’s more, make a lovely couple.
Banh Mi Annie
Three staffers manage to fit inside Annie Nguyen’s food truck, which is really more like a food cart. So it’s amazing how the Vietnamese subs known as banh mi get assembled so thoughtfully in the matchbox-sized kitchen, crowded as it is.
My favorite was the Original, a baguette swiped with garlic mayonnaise and filled with Vietnamese bologna, head cheese, pate, pickled carrot, daikon, cilantro, cucumbers and sliced jalapenos, a filling bargain for $6. And the homemade Vietnamese iced coffee and fresh squeezed limeade are terrific.
Nguyen, who grew up in South Vietnam, has lived in the Washington area for 13 years. After getting a two-year degree in human resources from George Mason University, she landed a job as a recruiting specialist for an IT company in Northern Virginia. After five years, “I realized it was not for me,” she says.
A big fan of the Food Network’s food truck show, Nguyen went on Craigslist and located an inexpensive food cart. “I don’t need a full-sized truck,” she says. “I’m only making sandwiches. I can always build a nice truck later on.” Stay tuned.