A Hamburger Today
Boston: Asian Street Food from Fugu Truck
I like to think that Bing Liu and I had a symbiotic goal for Boston street food. He wanted to serve the dishes he grew up eating in China, I wanted to eat them. Perfect.
Fugu, his bright blue truck based out of Malden, was born this past spring after Liu wrapped up stints working in France and at a couple Michelin-starred restaurants in New York and rallied some college buddies to go into business with him. What came of their creative thinking (and successful Kickstarter campaign) was a menu of noodles, buns, fresh rolls, and rice-based preparations that rotates regularly. I have yet to try a dud dish, and some plates made me downright weak in the knees (I'm looking at you, chewy, smoky grilled rice cakes). Here's the 4-1-1 on a handful of their mainstays (which, regrettably, doesn't include a few of my favorites—namely, those grilled rice cakes and the coconut rice pudding with fresh mango, both of which seem to be hard-to-come-by specials):
Their sesame noodles ($7) bear no relation to the usual gluey or, worse, grease-slicked versions that put me off of this dish before. The springy wheat strands are lightly coated with a roast-y, creamy-textured sesame paste that's mixed with chile oil. That combination, plus the crispy bits of pork (or chicken), might be cloying if it weren't for the mellow heat and the abundance of julienned cucumbers and carrots and cilantro leaves that make it feel more like a light summer salad.
A truck that serves braised pork belly buns ($6) isn't newsworthy, but this particular sandwich bread, if you will, is delicate and fluffy—a distant relative of most tough, chewy steamed buns. The pork itself is about average, even a little on the dry side, but the bean sauce nails the sweet-savory balance.
If you can get past the idea that this bibimbap ($8) isn't the ok dol variety and, therefore, lacks the crusty base that a stone bowl delivers, this is a great option. Lightly sticky rice topped with sweet-spicy shredded beef, barely cooked broccoli, really tasty kimchi and pickled onion, a perfectly hard-cooked egg half, bean sprouts, and sesame seeds add up to a lighter take on this wintertime staple.
About the author: Liz Bomze lives in Brookline, MA, and works as the Senior Features Editor for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. In her free time, she freelances regularly for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian, and Martha's Vineyard Magazine; practices bread-baking and canning; takes photos; reads; and watches baseball. Top 5 foods: fresh noodles, gravlax, sour cherry pie, burrata, ma po tofu.