Multicultural Cuisine of… Street Food
Tonight marked a momentous occasion for me. Something that’s been 25 years in the making. Something I got to experience with both my husband and my best friend (Ms Em). Something that I wasn’t sure would ever happen. My search has finally come to an end, the quest is over. I have found the perfect hamburger (insert heavenly shining lights and angelic music).
After facebook stalking the Beatbox Kitchen and Taco Truck for a few weeks, the planets finally aligned, and we would be in the general vicinity of the vans, which were miraculously double parked for the evening (a sign that the food Gods wanted me to eat one of everything). With Sous-Jeff worded up, Ms Em informed that we’d be picking her up in an hour, and my favourite sneakers firmly on my cold, little feet, we finally set out on the road to the iconic and much spoken about trucks.
For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, these little gems float around Melbourne and park themselves somewhere different each weekend. They produce magnificent, fresh food each time, opening at 6pm, and closing down at 9pm (or when they sell out). We arrived on Victoria St in West Brunswick at 5:58pm, and there was already a bit of a crowd gathering around the vans. It was damn cold, and began spitting a little bang on 6pm. By 6:05 when the Beatbox truck opened it’s front window for business, the heavens opened up and it started to pour. The God’s were telling me to stop being a fatty. I covered my ears and sang to the heavens “I can’t hear you, na na na na naaaa.”
At the counter, we’re offered 2 options, Raph’s burger and the portobello mushroom veggie version. Our path is clear – the Raph burger it is. I had heard from many, many sources that this is Melbourne’s best burger. At $11.00 a burger, we think that’s pretty good value considering the size of it, and naturally, I had to have it. So did the other two. We also decide to grab fries and relish too for another $5.00. We wait in eager anticipation in the rain, giggling and bouncing around like it’s Christmas morning.
A few minutes later, the Taco Truck is ready for business – at this point, we’ve been standing in the rain for almost 10 minutes, when Sous-Jeff suddenly says, “ohh, I have an umbrella in the car… should I get it?” YESSSS!!!!!!!!!
Our options are chicken, fish or potato tacos – we all go for the chicken. Ms Em grabs a single chicken taco for $6.00, and Sous-Jeff and I decide to share the taco plate, which consists of 2 chicken tacos and home-made corn chips for $12.00. While we wait for that order, in the pouring rain, we decide to head over to the Beatbox van which has just opened and get that order going as well.
After a relatively short wait (considering the mass of people converged on the trucks), we got our food! Sous-Jeff left us girls with the umbrella and went and got the car warmed up and some tunes pumping, so we could eat dinner in comfort and dryness. Ms Em held the umbrella for me while I collected the first dish – our tacos. When I hear my name called, I bound up to the truck and excitedly collect our booty – a double for Sous-Jeff and I, and a single for herself. I piled them up one on top of the other, leaving a hand free to collect the burgers. The brilliant gentlemen in the truck yell out a “thanks Jess!” and I yell back a “THANKYOU!!! I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!” much to the amusement of the other customers. Well, it’s true. Then, onto the Beatbox truck, and I collect a brown paper bag full of burgers and fries. The lady who hands it over to me giggles a little and asks if I’ll be right with all that food. “Ohhh I think I’ll manage!” Into the warm car we clambered, to find Sous-Jeff with his arms outstretched and ready to eat, the soundtrack to the original “Friday” movie playing over the stereo. Yes, we are all white. Yes, we all have a little “gangster” in us. And, yes, we love a bit of good 90s rap!
But, back to the food – we decide to go the tacos and corn chips first up. The home made corn chips were squeezed with a little lime juice, and are still perfectly crunchy. Absolutely delicious, cannot wait to get some more of these!! As for the tacos, we have chicken ones, with corn salsa, baby spinach leaves, and chipotle mayo, housed in a delicious little corn tortilla. Wow, they are just amazing, and the chipotle mayo is perfect! You could really tell how fresh everything was, and it just had a beautiful flavour.
|Taco plate, $12.00|
Out came the fries next – perfectly golden and crisp. They were perfect fries, and Annie’s home made tomato relish, with a tiny bit of kick to it, was the perfect accompaniment to them. Needless to say, they didn’t last long.
|Fries and relish, $6.00|
And finally, the pièce de résistance, the Raph burger. Plain and simple, a picture perfect burger – a fresh bun with a big, fat, juicy beef pattie, cheese, lettuce, tomato a little bit of red onion and tangy mayo. I’ve been wanting to try this burger for months now, since reading about it’s number 1 ranking and ever so high praise on The Burger Adventure’s blog post, where they rated it the number 1 hamburger in Melbourne. My curiosity was piqued even more so when we wound up at the Rooftop Bar after the 2011 Good Food and Wine Show, where the Beatbox Kitchen is permanently stationed… only to find it was shut over winter…. arghhh!!!
|Raph burger, $11.00|
I’m sorry, I’ve just been staring at my screen for the last 5 minutes, lost for words. Let me preface this next sentence by saying that my favourite food is a hamburger. It always has been. Probably always will be. And in my time, I have eaten probably five times my weight in hamburgers. From pubs, restaurants, fast food joints, fish and chip shops, carnival vendors, and everywhere in between.
This was, by far, THE BEST HAMBURGER I HAVE EVER EATEN. EVER.
The bun to burg ratio was perfect. The bun was perfectly soft, but also a little bit of crunch from being toasted. But not much that it detracted from the burger. There wasn’t too much onion so it didn’t overpower, but enough to enhance the flavour of the actual pattie. The layering was perfect – lettuce, then tomato, then cheese covered burger. This meant that the lettuce didn’t go soggy, and still had a great crunch when I bit into it. You could tell the tomato had been freshly sliced, because it didn’t have that soft, mushy, almost grainy texture that they get after being sliced up and left in the fridge for too long. The cheese was expertly melted onto the burger, and the burger was cooked to absolute perfection – nicely browned and slightly charred on the outside, and soft and ever so slightly pink on the inside. It was so soft, it literally fell apart as I bit it, sending beef crumbs cascading down the front of my jacket. The tangy mayo was a real surprise to me; I’ve always been under the assumption that it can’t be a real burger without tomato sauce/ketchup. I have tomato sauce on a lot of my food, and usually put extra on my burgers. I wasn’t sure how the mayo instead of the sauce would impact on my burger enjoyment, but to my surprise and delight, it actually tasted even better! It really highlighted to cheese and wasn’t as strong and dominant as the ketchup usually is.
I could not fault anything about this burger. It was perfect. And I will never be able to fully enjoy another one again now that I’ve had this. We spent the entire car trip home dissecting, analysing, and re-living the experience that was the taco-and-burger pleasure-thon. And not to take anything away from the tacos, because they were probably the best tacos I’ve ever had too! Hats off to you, Taco Truck and Beatbox. My quest to find the perfect hamburger has ended. Now, where will you be next week?! I already need another fix!!!