This rolling phenomenon has found its place in the city

From buttery pancakes to Venezuelan cheese rolls and everything in between, mobile traders are raising the bar for the capital’s food trucks.

cover_story_01

Over the last couple of years, there’s been a new player in Abu Dhabi’s culinary scene as food trucks have rolled into the city.

From burger trucks to tasty taco vans, there’s now a decent selection of mobile food outlets in the capital. But food trucks aren’t a new phenomena.

In fact, according to the New York Times, the industry originated way back in 1872 with a man called Walter Scott.

Parking a covered wagon with pre-cut windows in front of a local newspaper office in New York’s Rhode Island, Scott sold sandwiches, pies and coffee to the hardworking newspaper journalists. Before long, word spread and the industry was born.

Fast-forward to 2008 and the beginning of the modern food truck craze – as millions of people lost their jobs on the back of the worldwide recession, ambitious culinary minds in cities across the world turned their struggles into a chance of becoming business owners, and began to serve food on their own terms, from their own mobile diners.

In the UAE, the trend really only began about two years ago.

Moe Bittar, co-founder of The Shebi food truck and of trailer customisation company The Foodsters, was one of the early adopters.

“The Shebi was a way for me to leave the corporate world behind,” explains Moe.

Along with four friends, he created an innovative fusion menu that combined Lebanese and Indian dishes and launched with a solitary trailer. As the truck gained in popularity, the group began to come up against some hurdles.

cover_story_07

Moe Bittar

“As we grew, we wanted to get more food trucks but we could only find quality ones in Europe or the US,” Moe explains.

“We bought some from the States and tried to do one locally. In the end, the one here not only took longer, but the workmanship was really bad, too. That’s when we decided to open our own customisation workshop.”

So what makes a good quality food truck? For The Foodsters, it’s all about functionality.

“As a food truck operator, we have insider knowledge of being able to design the most efficient work flow for a specific menu. One of the most important elements for success is how many orders you can produce per hour. From a consumer point of view, the external design is hugely important – people eat with their eyes first.”

And with creativity at the heart of the industry, the company has worked on some amazing designs.

“We enjoy every project, says Moe, “but we get more excited when the clients are as crazy as we are. My favourites have been transforming a Mini Cooper into an ice-cream car and building a Transformer-like lobster roll concept. Every truck has a story to tell,” concludes the Foodster.

cover_story_09

That’s something that Dana AlSharif, food truck owner and founder of Urban RetrEAT, agrees with.

“As a huge fan of Mexican cuisine and having spent time living in LA, I noticed that the best tacos were usually sold from food trucks or street vendors. So, once food trucks were regulated in the region, we opened the Calle Tacos truck to bring a similar story to the UAE.”

cover_story_05

Dana AlSharif

She continues, “Food trucks are more personal. Owners are present and serving food and chatting to customers. There’s the freedom to go to different locations – parks, festivals or events – which adds excitement as you’re not confined to one space.”

Dana’s latest project is Urban RetrEAT, a unique concept in Yas Mall that has a focus on authentic street food. Through this, she aims to give local businesses a space to thrive, and provide a community space for foodies.

“Urban RetrEAT is a place where homegrown food vendors sell their favourite dishes in a fun environment. We offer a great variety and our vendors change every three months. It’s also a space for local artists to showcase their talent, something that’s very much in keeping with the whole community spirit that surrounds food trucks.”

It’s a spirit has been fostered further with today’s onslaught of social media which has made trucks much more accessible. When it comes to trucking, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to follow the crowd.

While it’s hard to pin food trucks down – after all, that’s the whole point of them – here are a few of Abu Dhabi’s best-loved trailers to keep your eyes peeled for.

Get your food truck fix 

While it’s hard to pin food trucks down – after all, that’s the whole point of them – here are a few of Abu Dhabi’s best-loved trailers to keep your eyes peeled for.

Buns of Steel

cover_story_03

Al Ainites, this one is for you. A project of Restaurant Secrets Inc. you’ll find this trailer parking its giant wheels on the side of Al Foah road. Try the breakfast sandwiches and bagels, signature sliders or cheesy Cheeto crunch. Search for Buns of Steel UAE on Facebook.

Salt

cover_story_06

Salt sprouted from an airstream trailer at Dubai’s Kite Beach as the brainchild of two Emirati women. It now calls itself a lifestyle movement and while it’s settled into its permanent home at Umm Al Emarat Park, it’s still a gleaming silver food truck serving some of the city’s best sliders. Umm Al Emarat Park, Al Mushrif. Contact: 055 996 7381, find-salt.ae

Saddle

cover_story_010

Homegrown in Dubai, Saddle now has trucks on Abu Dhabi’s Al Hudayriat Island and in The Square, Al Ain. It’s all about the speciality coffee at this joint, although if you’re hungry, the crêpes won’t disappoint. Search for @saddledubai on Instagram

Black Café

cover_story_02

This jet-black, bullet-shaped vehicle parks up on the sand at Al Bateen public beach. Speciality coffees, slushies and iced drinks are on offer as well as ice-cream, donuts and classic milk cakes. Search for @blackcafe.ae on Instagram

Churros by Yellow Brick Road

churo2

This offshoot trailer is housed in a 1970s food truck that’s usually spotted at Al Bateen Beach. The smell of freshly baking churros is sure to draw you in and with recipes and know-how passed down through three generations of one of Spain’s most famous churros makers, you’re in for a treat. Visit: followybrd.com

WORDS Hayley Skirka

 

Posted in Features | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Explore your city

  • Food & Drinks
  • Education
LEARN MORE