A little over a year ago my brother’s good friends decided they wanted to do more with their lives. Actually, I’m not really sure if that’s true or not, but they all decided that they wanted to provide the public with amazing food instead of sitting in an office all day, thus The Happy Lobster food truck was born. They quit their 9-5 jobs and began the journey of opening a food truck in Chicago, where food trucks are a fairly new. They took a gamble on providing a food that isn’t quite as popular as the normal street food fair, but that gamble appears to be paying off as they were ranked the #2 food truck in all of Chicago by Timeout Chicago.
I don’t really care for lobster (or seafood in general), but I do like to support the various ventures that friends of my family pursue, so I knew I had to find some time to give The Happy Lobster a try… and when we found out they were going to be up in Evanston this week, we couldn’t pass up the chance to check them out.
My wife works downtown so she’s actually gone to the truck before during lunch, but since I do not work downtown, it’s harder for me to make it work. Thankfully the Evanston concert in the park series was also doing a food truck festival this week and we were able to make it over there.
There were a fair number of trucks hanging out at the park. In addition to The Happy Lobster there was Cheesie’s, Amanacer Tacos, Chicago Cupcake, Grill Chasers, Pierogi Wagon, Piko Street Kitchen, and Tamale Spaceship… Chicago Pizza Boss and Babycakes were supposed to be there as well, but I did not see them.
Even with all of the food options presented to us, we were there for one reason, and one reason only, to support The Happy Lobster Truck and see if maybe I do kind of like lobster… when it’s either in grilled cheese form or mac n cheese bite form.
We walked up to the truck and I introduced myself to Alex and he immediately recognized me. Tyler and Neal were working hard cooking up the food, but stopped what they were doing for a second to say hi. We shot the shit about my brother for a minute or so and then I placed my order.
Lobster Grilled Cheese and Lobster Mac & Cheese Bites at The Happy Lobster Truck
We went with the Lobster Grilled Cheese and the Lobster Mac & Cheese bites. I figured since I’m not a huge lobster person, the Lobster Roll might be too much for me to handle, so we played it a little safe.
The Lobster Grilled Cheese is filled with fresh Maine lobster and a delicious two-cheese blend sandwiched between fresh challah. I love when the cheese just oozes out of a grilled cheese sandwich, so this was already looking delicious. I made sure that my first bite included the biggest piece of lobster I could see peaking through the wall of cheese. I wanted to make sure that if for some reason I didn’t like it, I at least knew that I got the whole experience with that first bite. And let me tell you, they do not skimp on the lobster.
As I took that first bite I could immediately taste the cheese, and seeing as how I’m a little uncertain when it comes to lobster, this put my mind at ease. The lobster taste came soon after and was not as overpowering as I was expecting. Funny enough I actually didn’t mind it. I’m still not a huge fan of lobster by itself, but this lobster grilled cheese was pretty damn good and is something I may have to order again for myself (I had to share it with my wife and kid so of course I only ended up with a few bites).
Next up on the menu was the Fried Lobster Mac & Cheese Bites and these were down right amazing. When it comes to seafood I don’t mind crab, so I’ve had my fair share of crab cakes, and this sort of reminded me of those, but better. Unlike a crab cake, these were not just packed with random stuff to make the crab stick together, these were filled with incredible macaroni and cheese… and lobster of course. And again, there is no skimping on the lobster here. Each bite was filled with a perfect balance of lobster and macaroni and cheese, all fried into a perfect bite size treat.
The Lobster Mac & Cheese Bites were better for me than the Lobster Grilled Cheese, but both were outstanding and these guys deserve the praise they are getting. I highly recommend tracking them down if you have the chance, even if you’re not a huge lobster person.
Bulgogi Ribeye Tacos from Piko Street Kitchen
After our lobster I still wanted to try out at least one of the other food trucks at the park, and if you have bulgogi on the menu, it’s hard to keep me away.
Piko Street Kitchen offers your choice of protein, whether you want chicken, pork belly, bulgogi ribeye or teriyaki tofu. These proteins are then served to you on either tacos, baos, sliders or in a bowl with rice or coleslaw.
I have been turned on to bulgogi ever since visiting my brother in Austin, TX a few years ago and experiencing a bulgogi burrito so good that it might be the first food I have ever dreamt about eating. So naturally I went with the bulgogi tacos from Piko Street Kitchen.
The Bulgogi Ribeye Tacos came in a flour tortilla topped with their citrus slaw, Kobu sauce and cilantro. Now normally when I order food I always get it specially made, meaning I ask them to leave stuff off that I “think” I might not like (even though I’ve never tried it), but for some reason I decided to just to order these straight up as intended.
The first thing that scared me a bit was that the Kobu sauce is a white, creamy sauce, which I normally am not a fan of, but I was still reserving my judgement. The second thing is that I am not a big coleslaw/slaw person in general, so that worried me a bit, but I was still trying to keep an open mind.
I got back to our blanket and took the first big bite of the tacos and was instantly blown away by how f$%ing good the actual bulgogi meat was. This meat reminded me very much of that fateful burrito in Austin from a couple years ago, it was amazing. I was actually very impressed with the citrus slaw as well. It added a nice crunch to everything and didn’t have that overpowering cabbage taste that I tend not to like. And then we got to the Kobu sauce…
It isn’t terrible, but it was probably my least favorite part of the taco, and I kind of knew that would be the case before even taking a bite. I still ate most of the tacos (wife and kid had some too), and I would definitely order these from Piko Street again, but I would probably take the sauce off. As I said, white, creamy sauces on food are usually a no-go for me, but I wasn’t aware ahead of time that this sauce was like that, and I kind of wanted to try the tacos as intended, rather than specially made for my shitty tastes. But sauce aside, that bulgogi ribeye was on point. If this truck shows up somewhere that I’m at again, I will definitely grab me some more tacos (sans sauce).
Now if only they would put the bulgogi in a burrito with rice and a fried egg I’d be set…. *wink*
Outside of those two food trucks, we didn’t get to try anything else. By the time I got through the Piko Street line, there were probably 40 people behind me, and all the other trucks had lines just as long and they were starting to sell out. But I highly recommend either of these two trucks if you’re looking for some quality food.