First there was the Dosa Truck. And now, there’s India Jones Chow Truck, bringing more delicious Indian goodness to Santa Monica (my hometown!) and West Los Angeles. I checked in with chef Sumant Pardal.
1) Indian food in a taco truck? Are you serving Indian tacos? What’s the deal here? Why a truck?
Our speciality is a FRANKIE. This is an Indian wrap from the streets of Bombay. Sort of an in between of a taco & burrito, but has no rice & beans. It is an egg washed roti (like a tortilla) with marinated sauteed meats, chopped onions, cilantro, special chutney and a spice blend. Once you have one, you want another one. A truck is exciting. And I have location, location, location.
2) Do you have any regional specialties? Where is the chef from? What’s your background? How’d you decide on the menu? How does real Indian street food impact what you choose to sell?
I am from Jaipur, India, 33 years of experience, and have owned 12 restaurants in LA in the last 22 years,
including East India Grill, which I opened on 8.8.88.
3) How much of an influence was the Kogi BBQ truck? How did you decide on your route? Do you have a set location/route? Being from Santa Monica, I approve of the Westside.
Kogi has been a big influence in showing us that there is a lot of business to be done by way of a catering truck. They are heros of this world. Routes are decided, by invitation, office complexes, night clubs and various events in the city. We are also now hooked up with Bluebird Cafe in Culver City, where we have a beautiful courtyard and every Thursday night we serve food and Bluebird sells beer & wine and shows movies and videos on a big screen.
4) What’s been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about operating a truck? Did you buy or lease it? How much harder is it to work in a truck kitchen than a real kitchen?
All businesses are hard work. But everything is working out beautifully.
5) What happened with the LAPD tickets two weeks ago? What will you be doing differently in the future?
It was not against me alone. It was a sweep to get us all out of there. I just caught the worst of it. Everything is fine now.
6) Thums Up or Limca?
One day. Need to find a wholesaler. Can’t buy retail and sell cheap.