Off The Grid is a conflagration of food trucks that initially gathered as pods at Fort Mason and has now expanded to clusters that dot the Bay Area most everyday of the week. The original is still going strong and on a rare, still warm at sundown Friday night in San Francisco I decided to head down and re-check them out since I hadn't been in some time.
Last time I was here it was cold and windy and the live band playing wasn't that good and waaayyy too loud. This time I hit it up earlier in the evening when it was still kind of warm and the dj was spinning chill lounge music that was rather pleasing. Though I did notice more parents with kids and strollers this time and that's not a real plus. I circle the offerings twice just to make sure I don't miss anything. I see some interesting things and find myself torn. These are the situations where it's great to have folks along with you so everyone can get something different to try, but tonight I'm flying solo and want to be sure I make the right choice and not end up with food remorse. Ultimately I land on Koja Kitchen.
As you can see they have a pretty hefty line, though I was there before this mass formed. While I would really like to try their kamikaze fries (waffle cut fries covered in stuff) I decide to try two of their "kojas"--a name they are tagging as a small sandwich--since I don't think I could eat that much.
I got the pork belly kola--miso coconut braised pork belly, arugula, a crispy wonton chip, slathered with garlic aioli and topped with tobiko served between a toasted garlic rice bun. And Korean bbq chicken with caramelized pineapple, sesame vinaigrette slaw on a toasted rice bun. They both sound like mouthfuls and they totally are. The pork was pull apart tender and juicy and even though I'm not a fan of miso or coconut you could really taste those flavors. Mostly what I got was the garlic aioli but I still liked it. The tobiko added a nice color but didn't really taste that either. I did like the chip inserted in it as it added a nice bit of crunch to the sandwich. The toasted rice bun was---different. It is an original alternative to a bread bun and it can make the whole thing a little mushy as you eat down on it. Might have liked a little more sturdy toasting on the "bun" part just to give it another layer of texture. But still, I liked it.
The chicken had a nice spicy kick to it that meshed well with the toasted pineapple slice and the slaw was still crunchy and vinegary and all the flavors mix very tastily together. Again, don't know if I'm the biggest fan of the rice bun, but it is something different. Eating this was very messy from first bite to last. I sort of gave up and used a fork to chow down on the best parts of this sandwich--the chicken/pineapple--very spicy sweet--a real treat--just not very neat. Okay, rhyme time over.
At $6 a pop, these messy bites were quite flavorful and fresh tasting, and in the grand scheme of food trucks, that is quite a bargain. They also offer combos that include a koja, a drink and those kamikaze fries--waffle cut fries topped with Korean bbq beef, sauteed onions, kimchi onions, sauce and Japanese mayo--I guess this just means I'll have to trudge back down to Off The Grid on some random Friday to try it out or I'll just follow them on Twitter and hope they come closer. Yeah that's what I'll lazily do. But for you, try them with friends, that way you can get more than one thing.