The Jacksonville Meals Truck Championship is roaring downtown – Leisure – The Florida Instances-Union this weekend
It is one of the most anticipated culinary events in the region.
The fourth annual Jacksonville Food Truck Championship takes place on Saturday from 4pm to 9pm at Jacksonville Landing.
25 stellar local food trucks will converge in the city center, offering unique and innovative food while competing for a chance to be recognized as the best among their peers.
For those new to the delightful joys of eating from the colorful mobile kitchens that are taking Jacksonville by storm, I wanted to highlight some examples of the type of cuisine that can be found at the event. So here is a ride from the eaten trail.
On The Fly has been named “Best Overall” and “People’s Choice” twice in the last three years of this competition and is a must for the championship. To understand why this truck has received so many awards, grab a pair of chopsticks and order the Firecracker Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna.
First, fried ahi tuna slices are sprinkled with sesame seeds. The tuna is served on crispy wasabi napa coleslaw and then topped with a sweet chilli soy glaze and a lump of pickled ginger. The sweet, slightly tangy, and moderately salty sauce is a perfectly balanced mix that covers a bed of crispy coleslaw – a great contrast to the tender sushi-quality tuna that appears in every bite.
Not many food truck owners have cooked for the Dalai Lama, but Fusion Food Truck’s Chef Ashley Amin was honored to do just that while he was in the midst of an award-winning culinary career in San Diego. Now in Jacksonville, she has left the grueling, long hours of restaurant ownership to open a food truck that focuses on the flavors of India, Thailand and the Mediterranean.
A good choice for those new to Fusion? Tikka masala. It advertises a rich and creamy tomato-based sauce simmering in a mixture of Indian spices with a hint of ginger and garlic. The sauce is served with basmati rice and tofu or chicken of your choice. Not only is the version of Fusion a great entry point for those unfamiliar with Indian food, it is also one of the best I’ve ever tried in the country.
The Latin Soul Grille offers an eclectic mix of authentic Puerto Rican food and wood grilling techniques. Try the mofongo, a traditional delicacy that combines green plantains mashed with bacon and garlic and then topped with steamed chicken soup.
Though plantains are technically a fruit, this starchy dish takes on the texture and taste of moist mashed potatoes and soaks up every ounce of the savory chicken stew poured on top. This comfort meal is the culinary equivalent of a warm hug.
Work your way to the Chew Chew Food Truck, a colorful, gastropub-inspired kitchen on wheels that blends global flavors with pub food favorites. For those looking to try an exotic product in a more familiar package, I recommend getting your hands on a Korean barbecue short rib melt.
The sandwich is a mix of a Korean-inspired taco and a traditional American pulled pork sandwich. Braised ribs and melted Gouda cheese are wrapped in a spicy Korean barbecue sauce on Texas toast and served with a side dish of crispy Kimchee Napa cabbage and carrot coleslaw. Fish sauce in coleslaw adds an element of umami. For those who want even more depth, ask for an egg that is easy to cook.
Funkadelic Food Truck has a menu that is as funky as the colorful jazz octopus painted on the side of the truck. Try the Shrimp Slider: Seared Jumbo Shrimp with Panko Crust, Crunchy Bacon, Avocado, and Sriracha Coleslaw are topped with an addicting, sweet mix called “Funk Sauce,” all of which is somehow wedged into a sweet Hawaiian bun. If those sliders don’t put a smile on your face, the quiet sounds of Bob Marley playing from the truck may take away your worries.
Don’t fret about your calorie counting self, a portion of every dollar spent on this delicious caravan will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters in northeast Florida. With the help of Landing, the North Florida Community First Credit Union, and Intuition Ale Works, I may save you a seat in line next to me.