Every last Friday of the month the Rose Bowl plays host to a bevy of food trucks and stands. This is known as Final Fridays, a free event located at the Rose Bowl.
This is purely an outdoors affair with visitors essentially picnicking on the lawn of the Rose Bowl. Folks brought their leashed doggies to mingle with the crowds as they checked out the various stands for information on services like AT&T’s U-verse or farm grown produce delivered straight to your door.
There was also a small stage where live music was performed and amped up to be heard from distances away. There also appeared to be a defunct sand bunker from the local golf course that kids could play in. Along a side gate was a plethora of food stands and food trucks which were the star attraction on Final Fridays.
First up was the Indonesian Fusion truck which fused the similarities of a Vietnamese cuisine, featuring classic dishes like the Bahn Mi sandwich and Japanese Yakisoba. The chosen dish of trio skewers ($15) consisted of three separate skewers: one with beef, shrimp, and portobello mushrooms. It was paired with a bed of plentiful, thinly cut french fries and a side of pickled vegetables.
The beef skewers were rich in their flavor — bold and tasty. Similar things can be said of the portobello mushrooms, as they dripped with fungal flavor. The shrimp was nothing particularly special, although it was well cooked and tasted as shrimp should — nothing earth-shattering, but still tasty. The pickled vegetables on the other hand could use some more pickling, as they tended to be a bit bland.
The Poutine Brothers truck offered up a Canadian favorite, from plain poutine to poutine slathered with various ingredients like beef, chicken, and a slew of other ingredients. The plain poutine classic ($10) consisted of fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Though it was welcoming, it overstayed its welcome with the flavors becoming stagnant after a few bites. The gravy took its toll on the tastebuds rather quickly, leaving the desire for hot sauce or something additional to pick up the slack. That being said, the meal itself was well prepared and well presented. It just lacked any reason for being.
Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ appeared to be one of the busiest stands/trucks at the event, with a sizable line and wait to boot. They specialize in all sorts of barbecue fair, such as half roasted barbecue chicken and bratwurst with grilled onions. The tri-tip sandwich ($12) with grilled onions was particularly juicy and rich with moisture and brimming with scrumptious flavor. The slices of tri-tip were also very chewy and took a bit of effort and dedication to gulp down. On its own, this would have sufficed, but it was somewhat ruined by the barbecue sauce, which was far too tangy and sweet that it completely offset the flavors and upset the natural order. The mixed berry lemonade ($6) had a familiar taste with delicious bites of fruit in every other slurp.
For dessert, the Frozen Fruit Co ice cream truck/Stuffed Crepe truck served up a warm and freshly cooked crepe. It was packed with nutella, strawberries and bananas, and served with a side of whipped cream, or better yet, a scoop or two of dairy-free ice cream made with coconut milk.
The crepe ($11) was firm and toasty as it melted away the nutella and smothered itself among the cut pieces of fruit, creating an oozing mess of flavorful goop. The ice cream on the other hand ($4) came in odd flavors like salt chocolate and banana bread, both of which were delightful with a natural hint of coconut from its primary ingredient. There was a tad bit more water content and the texture felt somewhat like a popsicle in the form of ice cream scoops, but one would be hard pressed to discern any difference to its lactose counterpart.
The overall experience is something to be had. From friendly conversations with people and petting their dogs, to free live music and plenty of tasty treats enjoyed among the scenery (even heavily marked up beer), it’s pretty worthwhile.