Sometimes, it can feel like "street food" is synonymous with "what people are eating in Hanoi."
That's not always the case. Gerald Luna's b.street waffles make use of a Belgian waffle recipe from the city of Liège -- a yeasted dough not unlike brioche -- to replicate what vendors once cooked up in specially gridded irons and hawked from church steps in the seventeenth century.
With imported pearl sugar folded into the dough after it rises and toppings such as TCHO chocolate baked in, b.street goes for old-timey street cred. Luna, a Dutch speaker, once toured Belgium for six weeks, stepping off trains and following his nose around various towns and villages to gain insights into all the regional variations of the iconic dish.
And the results of his aimless wandering are pretty conclusive. Thick and chewy, b.street waffles are moist enough not to require any syrup, and hearty enough to stand on their own as a full meal.
Having begun with street fairs and appearances at Alcratraz Landing during Fleet Week, b.street has since graduated to "start-up pop-up" status, with larger, more regular clients such as Dropbox. (A brick-and-mortar location is in the pipeline, with pan-galactic conquest to follow.) In the meantime, these hand-held treats show up Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon at the Castro Coffee Company.
"The idea that Americans would ever eat waffles in their hand" strikes Luna as a personal victory of sorts. In nine months, he's sold over 10,000 of them, from maple bacon and salted caramel to customized flavors (think Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or seasonal specialties like pumpkin and gingerbread), and all for only $3.
Belgium might still be waffling over whether to remain one country, but these should become a fixture.