It's a new month, so we're back with new Food Truck Friday reviews, sponsored by Citizens Bank of Edmond. Each month, you can find this truck and a fleet of others at Heard on Hurd, which returns to downtown Edmond 6-10 p.m. September 15.
Never underestimate the power of a clever name.
Owners Damien and Megan McCullough learned a lot about food trucks from Damien’s former boss, David Greggs of The Flying Pig BBQ. Lesson No. 1: people need to know what your truck sells as soon as they see it.
The plan was always to open his own food truck and the apprenticeship on Greggs’ truck yielded many more lessons about foods that are good, but not appropriate for mobile dining, and how to use ingredients in multiple dishes to maximize the amount of space in the tiny kitchen.
But give it up to the McCulloughs for taking what they’ve learned and making Mission In-Pasta-Bowl a winner right out of the gate. Nailing flavors and textures is no easy feat, and doing it in a truck doubly so. Wait times are short and the variety of flavors available from the mixing and matching of ingredients means they can hit just about every palate.
And that name… Every time I hear (or say or read) the name Mission In-Pasta-Bowl it makes me chuckle. Their social media posts emphasize the “missions” available for the week. It’s just extremely well thought out.
A name will get your foot in the door, but it’s the food in the mouth that turns a one-time sale into a long-term customer. And on that score, Mission In-Pasta-Bowl (heh) has no worries.
One of the easiest options available is the loaded mac and cheese ($7), which lives up to its name.
Elbow macaroni is tossed in a cheesy sauce and topped with chopped bacon, green onion and tomatoes. The sauce is super-luxurious, like an alfredo sauce with cheese melted into it, and the bacon really drives the flavor. The tomatoes and green onions give a lightness and crunch that balances well with the heavier sauce.
Kudos to Mission In-Pasta-Bowl (hehe) for their restraint here. So many restaurants go overboard on their mac and cheese, shooting straight for the richest flavors they can get. The problem with that is you can eat maybe a bite or two before you’re dragging. This blend of creamy heaviness and light freshness makes for an easy-to-enjoy meal that you won’t want to stop eating even when there’s none left.
The build-your-own bowls are great for any picky eaters out there, or just anyone with a specific culinary vision. Each one comes on a bed of rotini, which is a great shape for just about any sauce. The spiral catches just enough to give you the flavor without getting too bogged down.
I tried the creamy cajun sauce with meatballs ($9) and was pleased as punch. Meatballs are hard to get right. We’ve all had tough, rubbery meatballs or those that fall apart as soon as you touch them with a fork. These have a nice crust that holds them together with an interior that is meaty, but still light. Add some basil for a bright herbal remedy to the heavier creamy cajun sauce.
That sauce is a spice-infused alfredo, but don’t worry about getting your taste buds burned out. The real foci of the dish are the meatballs, which I recommend diving up so you get a little bit with every few bites.
If you’re aching for marinara, I understand completely. The option is available on the build-your-own, of course, but it’s also an integral part of the Italian meatbomb sub ($10).
Four meatballs come slathered in marinara, stuffed into a tender roll. The marinara has a lovely dark tomato flavor and some zippy spices that really bring the meatballs to life.
On the side, you’ll get some plain mac and cheese, which I absolutely loved. As much as the bacon and tomato and green onions made the loaded mac a main course, the straightforward cheesy creaminess of the plain mac and cheese was a wonderful companion to the meatbomb sub.
But if you’re really looking for the on-ramp to Flavor Country, I recommend pairing buttery spiced shrimp with alfredo sauce with jalapenos ($11). Shrimp is a $2 upcharge on the build-your-own, but it’s worth it. These medium shrimp are seasoned and fried in butter on a skillet when you order and the tender pop of these guys just elevates an already impressive dish.
The alfredo won’t disappoint any of you. It’s creamy and decadently rich with that nuttiness that is so prized in those hard, granular cheeses that go into the sauce.
Jalapenos aren’t strictly necessary, but I love the green flavors they bring and the slow-building heat.
It’s a joy, honestly, a joy to tell you about Mission In-Pasta-Bowl (snort). I’m not sure if these are second- or third-wave food trucks we’re seeing now in Oklahoma City, but it’s great to see so much thought and care going into this recent spate of newcomers.
OKC has had excellent food trucks from the beginning, but there were also a lot of people who thought running a food truck would be easy or that customers wouldn’t expect much from their cuisine. Mission has the catchy name and the fun concept backed up with genuinely tasty food and quick service. These guys are the real deal. Try for yourself and you’ll see.
Food Truck Friday reviews are brought to you by Citizens Bank of Edmond, which presents the monthly street festival, Heard on Hurd in Downtown Edmond. Heard on Hurd is an authentic block party style festival that features three dozen food trucks, a live concert with local artists and retail pop-up shops. Edmond has a special vibe of its own and Citizens Bank of Edmond provides an outlet for the Edmond community to shine. Heard on Hurd highlights the importance of supporting local eateries, artists and retailers. At the heart of Heard on Hurd is Citizens Bank of Edmond which is proud to provide the means for so many local thriving businesses.
The next Heard on Hurd is 6-10 p.m. September 15 at the corner of Broadway and Hurd in Edmond. For updates, follow @HeardonHurd on social media with hashtag #JointheHurd