Savannah gets its own Food Truck Park

Savannah gets its own Food Truck Park

By now the rumors of Savannah’s first food truck park have been confirmed. One may even say dispelled because what is actually coming to Savannah’s Starland District is so much more than a food truck park.

If you drive through the bustling Starland District, you will not miss the expansive space which now holds stacked shipping containers. These containers make up the spot that will soon be called Starland Yard. The creators, which include Guy Davidson, Pila Sunderland, Niko Ormond, John Benhase, and Ava Pandiani, wanted to bring locals a shareable space that would bring all of the Starland District (and Savannah) together.

The focus is local fool and local art plus the accumulation of community to create a truly local Savannah experience.

Q: Tell me the story of Starland Yard.

A: The whole idea was that Starland District, for a long time, has had this dream of the come up: It is going to be great, this is going to be where Savannahians hang out, this is going to be where all these restaurants are going to be, it is going to be all of these different stores. For me, when I first moved here four years ago, my first job was at the Florence, so I heard that all the time: if we get one more restaurant down here, if there is one more thing to do down here, it is really going to happen. Then the Atlantic opened and that was great. But anyone who lives here knows that it has always been maybe this time, maybe now. I think this [Starland Yard] is the push that is really going to make it happen. Between us and Victory North, this is really making [Starland] a destination.

Q: What are some of the features that are going to be included?

A: We have a covered area that can be a private event space. We can hold up to fifty people just in the top. So we are thinking weddings, we are thinking if you want to have your corporate party for something or someone is retiring, you can have your own space.

We can fit four trucks in the rainbow drive area. And just as easily we can flip one to face [the event space]. If your group just wants Pie Society’s food truck, you can close [the event space] off easily and make it to where you can still see everyone.
There is going to be a kids area. It is going to have four foot walls so the kids are not running into trucks. If you are a parent you can sit in a covered area, you can have your kids running around. They can eat a hot dog, have a view and a beer. The idea is to make it very comfortable for everyone.

We will have bocce and cornhole. Things like that for people who want to drink a beer and play a game.

There is another container in the back that will have televisions. There will be televisions there but not the bar. If you want to watch a UGA game on a Sunday there is a space for you to do that. Then the bar isn’t just sports bar vibe.
Jimmy from the Butcher is doing a big mural. We have been talking to a few other artists. Part one is we want [Starland Yard] to be inclusive of the community that we are in. Especially when we are hiring, we want everyone to feel like this is their space, and they can come here. Part two is we want it to represent local artists too, which is important. That is the vibe of Starland so we want to keep that going.

Q: How will Starland Yard work?

A: We are going to be a cashless, and when I say cashless it is with an asterisk—of course some insist people on paying with cash. A cashless establishment so you can come here and open a tab immediately [at the entrance]. So now Starland Yard has my credit card swiped in with my name and my number. I can now go to Vittoria and get a pizza and put it on the tab. I can go to the bar and get a drink and put it on the tab. I can go to Pie Society, get a blueberry cobbler and put it on the tab. The exit will be on the other side of the entrance, so when people are coming out they will checkout, they will get one check, and they pay at one time.

The one exception to the rule is that Kyle is quasi-independent. If you want to come in and just get a pizza then leave, we will still check your ID to make sure you are 21, but if you just want to pay at Vittoria you can.

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Savannah’s First Farm to Truck Food Truck: Strangebird

Savannah’s First Farm to Truck Food Truck: Strangebird

AIRSTREAMS are super cool, but an Airstream that sells seasonally inspired food all around Savannah gives this one quite a leg up on the rest that I’ve seen.

The 26-foot 1967 Airstream Ambassador I refer to is the newest food truck to take our town by storm. Strangebird, the sister food truck to Bluffton, S.C., restaurant FARM Bluffton, has quickly become a grub mobile that I seek out anytime it comes over the bridge.

I think it’s fair to call Strangebird Savannah’s first farm-to-truck establishment.

Strangebird Chef and partner Brandon Carter told me the story of how the truck came about.

“We’re an extension of FARM Bluffton. We purchased the Airstream as a way to test out new concepts, do off-site catering and as a way to do community outreach events. Strange Bird is our new baby and we’re super excited about the possibilities,” Carter says.

How exciting is it for Savannah to get its own taste of one of Bluffton’s most popular food destinations?

The Strangebird truck is the first Airstream I have encountered in our port city, naturally making me curious as to why the team settled on a tin trailer.

“We bought one to fix up and then came across this one, which was already converted. We couldn’t pass up the offer. We wanted to have greater mobility so we could bring our experience to different venues. We like the airstream because of the aesthetic,” explains Chef Carter.

The foodies who seek out our new local restaurant on wheels can expect a constantly rotating menu that uses only the freshest farm ingredients.

According to Chef Carter, “We have an extensive network of farmers and artisan producers that we use at Farm. It made sense to continue supporting the people who support us with Strange Bird.”

A guest being served from the truck
Some of the purveyors include well known and loved local farms like Canewater Farm, Georgia Olive Farms, and Rainwater Mushrooms.

Because the ingredients used are locally sourced, the root of each menu always has a southern side. The use of butter beans in lieu of pinto beans as the base of their refried beans demonstrates just that.

A past menu even had a fried bologna sandwich, which is something I always relate to the truly Southern, and handmade tater tots.

Bringing on extreme nostalgia, the inner child in me almost cried upon discovering I had missed the fried bologna sandwich, a treat that is so often prepared for family by Southern grandmothers.

The ingredients themselves are not the only consideration put into the creation of each menu by Chef Carter.
As he puts it, “We create menus based on what’s growing and where we’re popping up.”

As more vibrant and readily available produce becomes available with the warmer months, it will be thrilling to see the new dishes that are created.

Another important question I wanted answered was how the title Strangebird came about.
The answer is simpler than you think.

“Our chef de cuisine Burns Sullivan has been experimenting with a marinade for our grilled chicken. It combines flavors from Sichuan Guaiwei seasoning [this translates to ‘strange taste’ so you can see the connection] and jerk. It is unbelievably good grilled on charcoal,” says Carter.

Past menus have included a Strange Chicken Taco, a Green Chorizo Taco, and a Cauliflower Macha Taco.

Their chicken taco is plated with cool cabbage, tender beans, punchy onions, and a creamy white barbecue sauce.

The spicy chorizo taco is cooled by the addition of pineapple and cotija, and finished with onion and avocado. And as for the cauliflower taco, peanuts are added for crunch along with cabbage, onion, and avocado.

One of the trucks latest pop ups was at Service Brewery for the brewery’s release party of their Old Guard beer. I was not lucky enough to taste their signature Strangbird chicken when I caught the truck at one of its latest stops, but everything I was able to try was stellar.

As I sat sipping my beer, I kept hearing other patrons rave about the Crispy Beet Taco that was available on their menu that night. Although I am a self-admitted beet basher, I figured it was worth a try.

A close up of the beet taco
I quickly jumped up and order some tacos. Because the price was so reasonable, two tacos for twelve bucks, I figured even if I did not love the beet version I would not be out much.

Well, it was a penny well spent. The vibrant purple beets that sat on top of the fresh corn tortilla were crunchy and roasted to the point of sweetness.

Sprinkled over the top were deep fried corn kernels, fennel, cilantro, and a smear of avocado. This was as balanced as a taco could ever be, crunchy, creamy, salty, and sweet.

My second taco choice was the Carnitas Taco, because I wanted to opt for a bit more tradition. Cotija and a sofrito adorned this little round treat. The non-traditional portion, the use of sliced rounds of carrots and a sauce that is dubbed “your mom sauce.”

For my side I was immediately drawn to Grilled Street Carrots, Strangebird’s take on street corn which is also known as Elote. Colorful rustic carrots are chargrilled until fork tender then served smothered in a white barbecue sauce and cotija cheese.

The overall effect is a treat that reminds you of an earthier version of the classically decadent dish.

I expect that a brand new menu will roll out at their next stop, which shouldn’t be too far into the future.

Original article can be found here

Yoshi’s Kitchen, Savannah’s Newest Food Truck

Yoshi’s Kitchen, Savannah’s Newest Food Truck

There’s a new kid on the block, but the restaurant behind it, Sushi Zen, is anything but new to Savannah locals.

This Savannah staple that locals have loved for years is now part of the city’s recent food truck scene. The man behind new food truck Yoshi’s Kitchen is Chef Takami Yoshimoto, son of Sushi Zen’s owner.

He also goes by TJ. As for the name of the truck, TJ wanted to honor his father and family by naming it after him: Yoshi.

TJ’s career started with culinary school in Austin, Texas, followed by an externship at famous Chef Morimoto’s restaurant in Disney Springs, Florida. However, “He had to come back home to help with the family, and that’s around the same time they found a truck,” TJ tells me as he details this culinary adventure.

After falling in love with food trucks in Austin, TJ was excited when Savannah opened up for food truck entrepreneurs. What he really wants is “for Savannah to see the potential in food trucks because they can bring a community together.”

I tried the Donburi Fried Shrimp Rice Bowl, the most popular bowl. After devouring it, I understood why.

Most Savannahians love shrimp, especially if they are fried. The coastal shrimp featured in this bowl are not just any old fried crustaceans, but are encased in a light and airy tempura batter. The bowl is layered with tender steamed white rice, lightly caramelized onions, crunchy carrots, roasted broccoli, and a sprinkling of vibrant saffron.

To finish the bowl TJ drizzles teriyaki sauce and shrimp sauce, the two sauces that are probably every Savannahian’s favorite addition to an Asian dish. The meal has a bit of everything with each item working in harmony with the last.

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Other options for the bowl include steak, slow braised pork belly, and — the option I will be going back to try — Japanese fried chicken. I have encountered Korean fried chicken but never Japanese.

When I ask TJ what Japanese fried chicken means, he explains, “it is called the karaage fried chicken..we basically velvetize the chicken by marinating in egg whites, saki, ginger, and garlic to make it tender…the frying process is just flour and cornstarch.”

As for the sauce, because Southerners love a good sauce to go with their fried chicken, it is covered in teriyaki. Japanese fried chicken “is kind of our bar food…you would get that at a bar with a side of beer,” TJ elaborates.

The coolest part: Yoshi’s is the only place in Savannah you can get the extremely unique and out of this world fried chicken.

The steak option is prepared in the style of yakiniku beef, which means Japanese style grilled beef. It is tender sweet and smokey and served with a slathering of delicious sauce. This bowl is perfect for those customers that want something that taste familiar but with a flavorful twist.

As for the pork belly, it is TJ’s personal favorite because it takes him “eight hours to braise it with a lot of love and sweat.”

To braise the pork, TJ uses their house sauce, an amped up sauce with a teriyaki base. TJ let me in on the coolest part about his teriyaki base: ‘We continue to use the same base…we bring [extra base] up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill of any bacteria, and then we use it for the next batch.”

He explains that the technique of never starting from scratch with a sauce is a one that is often used in Japan. This seems to be the Japanese equivalent of saving the pickle juice from the last jar here in the South.

Slightly on the more traditional side are the pork potstickers. As for the flavor, it is anything but traditional. The shell is pan fried every single side, unlike many potstickers that can often be chewy due to searing on one portion of the wrapper.

Texturally, the crunch is through and through until your tongue hits the succulent pork filling. As you eat each flavor packed wanton, the first taste that hits your tongue is fresh ginger, followed by salty, juicy pork. The sauce for this dish is classic soy and scallion dipping sauce that is commonly paired with potstickers.

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If you are not too full, order the Tempura Cheesecake for dessert, which could only be described as a play on textures and sensations. TJ takes a slice of cheesecake, batters it in tempura, fries it, smothers it in a matcha chocolate sauce, and plops on fresh whipped cream. Encasing the creamy silky traditional vanilla cheesecake is an delicate and airy coating of tempura.

As you cut into the slice, the cream cheese oozes out of the casing and as it hits your tongue it feels like you are eating a cloud. Somehow TJ elevates fried cheesecake (what you would imagine to be a heavy dessert) to a level of brightness that I would have never thought possible.

I could spend the rest of this article discussing the options at Yoshi’s, because the menu is not limited to only a few, select things. TJ has changed the menu “up to three times per week.”

The idea behind the food truck is the ability to feature different options. Recently the menu has even included tacos jammed with oysters, crab, or shrimp. TJ even hopes to bring sushi to Savannah via his mobile meal wheels.

When Yoshi’s is not servicing events or popping around town you can find the truck stationed at Daffin Park, “starting July 1, through the year,” TJ tells me, because Yoshi’s Kitchen was of the lucky trucks to gain a consistent spot to park through Savannah’s food truck lottery.

Original article here.

Roy’s Nutz and Buttz

Roy’s Nutz and Buttz

If there is one type of cuisine that really hits home for me, it is BBQ. I grew up in a small town outside of Atlanta where barbecue joints were as concentrated as the traffic on I-85 every afternoon at 5 p.m.

So when I relocated to the Lowcountry a few short years ago, I was disappointed at the relative lack of available barbecue restaurants.

Thankfully, our city finally wised up and passed ordinances allowing food trucks to begin operation within Savannah. With the change, one of Savannah’s most popular food trucks Owners Roy and Mandy Chambliss both had nine-to-five jobs before they took the leap to crank up their wheeled walk-up.

Just as much experience as they both have in the business world, they have even more when it comes to barbecue.

The story of this American dream truly began when Roy learned to barbecue about 20 years ago, while coaching his son’s travel baseball games. According to Roy, the barbecue was an effort “to raise money” for the team, and he learned by purchasing “a little grill from Sam’s and burning a lot of meat”. Now he has a professional smoking rig that can feed at least two-thousand people per day.

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Roy’s choice in wood is pecan and red oak because “[the oak smokes] hotter while [the pecan] gives the meat a sweet taste,” he explained as I peppered him with questions while attempting to learn the process.

Roy went on to explain that for the pork, he cooks it “for at least twelve hours per butt,” and he smokes the protein for four hours before wrapping it to prevent oversmoking.

Roy’s Nutz & Butts offers your traditional smoked barbecue meats and a few unique entrees. and barbecue stops, Roy’s Nutz & Buttz, was born.

Let’s start with the Chicken Bomb, a chicken sandwich like no other. Dishes like this are the reason I love to visit and review more relatable restaurants. Though popular in many newer places, it is special to see a mom-and-pop that offers new and unique takes on classic dishes.

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The base of this sandwich is a slow smoked piece of chicken coated in buffalo sauce and layered with a mound of gooey house-smoked (obviously) buffalo chicken dip, smoked crispy thick cut bacon, and a torrential downpour of creamy ranch.

Commonly buffalo chicken sandwiches feature fried chicken, but I prefer the smoked chicken because it retains much more moisture and flavor. The bacon acts as the crunchy element, in lieu of breading. And if crunchy bacon is your thing, this smoked bacon is colossally crispy.

Another extremely unique offering is the Gonzo dog. Though of course smoked (I would expect nothing less from Pitmaster Roy), the dog’s twist comes with a stuffing of cheese before being encased in bacon.

Yes, the same crispy crunchy bacon described above. Smoking the hotdog allows the bacon to properly render its fat and crisp up, which often doesn’t happen with bacon wrapped meat. After your teeth pierce the guarding layer of bacon and through the juicy meat itself, your mouth is flooded with melted creamy sharp cheese.

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The burger is smoked as well, and be warned once you taste a smoked hamburger you will never want it cooked any other way. Smoking the beef allows the burger to be cooked through without becoming dry or making the meat tough. You get the flavor of a traditional American cheeseburger alongside a whisper of smoked meat.

As for the side items, every single one of them are so delicious they could be featured as main. Roy’s Brunswick Stew is award winning; it placed second in the professional category and third for the People’s’ Choice award of the 2018 Brunswick Stewbilee competition.

Want to know why? Roy’s is the only restaurant around town using brisket in their stew. Traditionally the stew includes pork and sometimes chicken, but Roy included all three smoked meats. The recipe also excludes potatoes, a filler for the stew traditionally used to stretch the amount it will serve.

The baked beans are not overly sweet. Instead they are balanced by Mandy’s addition of chili sauce. Cooked down with the beans you will find green peppers, which add a touch of brightness to the Southern staple. The combination of the two additions give these beans an overall peppery flavor with the finish of a hint of the traditional sweetness.

The Macaroni and Cheese is made the way that I prefer, creamy and not baked with an egg like many southern versions of the side. The flavor of cheese is deep, due to the use of sharp American, Monterey Jack, and Colby. Distributed about you will find a sea of cracked black pepper, a perfect touch to cut through the richness of three cheeses.

Let’s not forget about the barbecue sauce. Besides the actual smoked meat this may be the most important offering. The idea for Roy’s signature sauce, a Honey Jalapeño Barbecue Sauce, surfaced when he was sampling barbecue at a local joint in Arizona.

After returning to Savannah, he spent a little bit of time attempting to recreate the sauce before perfecting his own. The sauce “is probably their most popular” and is made with a purée of fresh jalapeños.

For the people that think it the honey jalapeno barbecue sauce is too spicy, Roy, made a hickory salve and as he was doing a lot of jobs in South Carolina, “everybody asked [them] for a mustard based one, so that is what I did,” Roy explained as he told me about his other two barbecue sauce creations.

The mustard version is reminiscent of a smokey spicy honey mustard, while the hickory is closer to a traditional barbecue sauce without so much sweetness.

The menu is only going to get larger, and Roy and Mandy have been working on a brick-and-mortar sit-down featuring a large menu and new creations. Their quick success is due to love of the food, each other, and serving people.

As Mandy put it, she “has the most amazing job in the world.”

Original Article: Here