Israeli Street Eats Tasty
By Chickpea Food Truck
I have always thought that if one wants delicious vegetarian or vegan food, one must look at cultures abroad who have had more experience cooking non meat meals.
The Chickpea Food Truck near the convention centres, serve vegetarian food inspire by Israel. Unsurprisingly, their meat free fare was tasty.
One chooses their desired main dish and then the format one wants to eat it in: in a pita, on a hummus plate, on top of a salad or as part of a large platter of food. There is also an assortment of sauces ranging from sweet to spicy that Chickpea provides, allowing one to further customize their meal.
(Note: There is an error on the Chickpea Truck’s website. Only the platter comes with chickpea fries, the organic hummus plate does not. They do have this corrected on the menu attached to the side of their truck.)
On my first visit I got the Kasum Organic Hummus Plate. The Kasum consisted of deep fried cauliflower, and sautéed tumeric mushrooms and onions that are tangy, salty, and earthy.
The cauliflower was lightly battered. Interestingly, not only were there florets of the white vegetable used but also the green stalks that often encase the cauliflower when one buys it at the grocery store. The pieces were just slightly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
In addition, one gets a chalky hard boil egg, which is not my cup of tea. Runny poached brunch eggs and gooey ajitsuke tamago served at ramen shops around town have spoiled me. However, the egg does make the meal more filling and is an added protein boost.
The Organic Hummus Plate format has a faintly dressed shredded mixed veggie salad (purple cabbage, carrots, green leaf lettuce, and itty bitty cubes of cucumber), pita bread and hummus.
The hummus was ultra smooth and creamy. It didn’t taste too much like chickpea and had a very light bitter aftertaste.
I enjoyed my first meal at the Chickpea so I decided to return for a few more lunches.
For my next trip I got the Shakshuka in the platter format. The platter format is similar to the components of the Organic Hummus Plate except one also gets chickpea fries, which reminded me more of pakora than fries.
The bulbous legume fritters were glazed with a sweet sauce. I found them a little dry and bland on the inside.
Shakshuka is basically eggs served with a savoury tomato sauce. Usually the whole egg, sans shell, is poached in the tomato stew. However at Chickpea, they use a fried egg that has a runny yolk.
Honestly, tomato and egg is a winning flavour combination in my book regardless of which cultural interpretation I’ve tried; the Shakshuka is no different. There’s something wonderful when rich eggs meet tart and savoury tomatoes – each item’s flavours work so well together.
There were also cubes of salty feta cheese under the fried egg that made this dish even more delicious. The tomato sauce was more umami than the advertised spicy and had huge slices of garlic in it as well. I really enjoyed this dish, but I found the platter format was too much food for me.
The last order I’ll be writing about is the Sabich, which I ate in the organic hummus plate option. The Sabich is a traditional Iraqi Jewish fast food breakfast item in Israel where deep fried eggplant is stuffed into a pita. Since I went with the hummus plate, I guess I got the modern deconstructed interpretation. This dish also came with the same hard boiled egg as the Kasum, which as mentioned, is not my thing since I’m ramen egg biased.
Much like the Kasum, the eggplant had light coat of batter. The eggplant is sliced thin like a thicker cut chip (think Ruffles). I was worried that the sponge like quality of the aubergine would soak up the oil used to deep fry them. However the slices were not greasy at all and didn’t have an oily taste either. The problem is that they didn’t have much a flavour at all. Eggplant is naturally bland on its own, so without dressing it up with the truck provided sauces, this dish was pretty tasteless.
In addition to the Sabich, I got a side order of Falafel (which is available as a main dish as well). The exterior is super dark, almost burnt looking, and loudly crunchy.
The inside was a big surprise. They are vibrant green unlike any Falafel I have eaten. The Chickpea truck really amps up the use of parsley and I think it keeps the deep fried chickpea balls moist. Other than the flavour of the chickpea, these Falafel were not spiced that much.
I enjoyed most of the vegetarian food I tried from the Chickpea Food Truck, although I’m not sure how healthy it is since most of the items are deep fried. I liked the Shakshuka and Kasum the best, as they had the most flavour.
The only downside is each time I’ve gotten food from this truck there have been long waits, in around 20 to 25 minutes to get your order. For the desk jockeys that work nearby, the wait time maybe too long. I’m hoping that the guys behind the truck will streamline their order process to cut down the wait time.
However I have feeling they may have been unprepared for the masses that have come out to check them out. The previous truck that was in their spot never saw these crowds. Who would have thought Vancouverites would take to tasty vegetarian food so well?
Chickpea Food Truck
Location:North side of Cordova between Burrard and Howe (Closer to Burrard)
I would check the Street Food App
to keep tabs on this truck they have regular downtown spot but are not always there. They also camp out in front of some of the craft breweries.