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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Kickin' It Old World

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Don't let the slaw fool you, there is a LOT of chicken in this monster sandwich. - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Don't let the slaw fool you, there is a LOT of chicken in this monster sandwich.
Our weekly bite explores the city's food trucks, one at a time, highlighting our favorite mobile dishes and snacks.

The Truck: Old Word Food Truck

The Cuisine: East European and Jewish Comfort Food

Specialty Item: Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich

Worth the Wait in Line? Yes.

The Bay Area has no shortage of fried chicken sandwiches: Cotogna's Friday-only Tuscan version, Naked Lunch's unbattered fried thigh, 4505 Meats' market-veggie-dressed Chicken Yum Yum, and the benchmark that put Bakesale Betty's on the map. Rolling up to the Old World Food Truck for their Chicken Schnitzel-wich ($8), we expected a variation on the same theme, but were instead rewarded with something so different, delicious, and well-integrated it took us by surprise.

Kenny Hockert, who describes himself as "owner-chef-mensch" of Old World Food Truck, set out to make a bahn mi-style sandwich with Eastern European ingredients. The result is something unique. A crisp Acme torpedo roll is dwarfed by the patchwork of large, juicy, and crunchy pieces of breaded fried chicken, topped with a mound of vinegar-and-oil cabbage slaw that cuts the richness just enough. Horseradish mayo is mostly a wallflower, adding a hint of heat but politely sitting in the background instead of assaulting your sinuses. Not being a shlemeil, we opted for the optional chopped liver schmear ($1, liver, onions, sherry, lemon, schmaltz), which adds terrific richness.

The most suprising element, the smoky, toasted caraway seed-infused honey, is what nudges the sandwich into greatness. Not only does it create the wonderful salty-sweet contrast, it also adds some umami-like earthiness to enhance the slaw and chicken. The honey's sticky intensity has the same effect as fish sauce: it perplexes in the first bite, and becomes addictive in the rest.

Hocket's East European and Jewish soul food is a concept that shows how universal comfort food can be. Is this an evolution of the fried chicken sandwich? Hopefully. Sometimes to move forward, we have to look back.

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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