Something Stuffed food truck
By Becky Krystal
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
If you happen across the bright purple Something Stuffed food truck, you might first notice its logo, with a Muppet-esque character sporting appropriately full cheeks. Consider it a preview of what you’re in for when you order a lunch dished out by co-owners Gauri Sarin, 24, and Michelle Nguyen, 29.
Life imitating art, or art imitating life: When you bite into one of their generously filled, crisp-crusted empanadas, you won’t care.
“The crust actually took us several months” to develop, says Sarin, a recent George Mason University grad. She studied communications, public relations and, apparently, doodling. (The logo is her design.) Nguyen left a software company job to work with Sarin, who’s dating Nguyen’s brother.
Despite being professional culinary newbies, the Fair Lakes residents know how to use what we can only assume is a hefty amount of South Mountain Creamery butter in the empanadas. They prepare the four-inch-wide pastries in a commercial kitchen in Alexandria and fry them on the truck in a canola-based shortening. That means you might not get your food instantly, although the wait is generally only a few minutes. A batch discount (three for $9 or $3.50 each) is hard to resist, but we recommend finding a friend to eat your third empanada.
The Gabz, a Thai-inspired option, benefits from moist chicken, still-crunchy green beans, a bit of heat and Thai basil. The Dough Boy, a Lebanese-style concoction of ground beef, cinnamon, carrots and onions, proves bland in contrast. A dunk in the house-made yogurt-and-cilantro Gorilla Sauce helps.
The Hensley, a Vietnamese combination of pulled pork, cabbage and lemon grass-caramel sauce, threatens to burst with all its tender meat. The sauce doesn’t live up to its concept, with an off-putting floral flavor and fibrous bits.
Although officially fusion fare, the food reflects Sarin’s Indian and Nguyen’s Vietnamese heritage. Vietnam would be proud of their palm-size steamed dumplings ($7 for five beef, pork or chicken; $9 for seafood). Our beef order had no hint of exterior rubberiness. Sarin said they chose the brand of wonton wrappers specifically for their thinness -- to allow for more filling, of course.
Something Stuffed offers a variety of sides which, like the empanadas and dumplings, rotate into the daily menu based on the availability of locally sourced ingredients. Last week, the chilled salad of sesame noodles ($5) was too oily for our taste, though its green beans and red peppers retain a nice bite. The pickle-y cucumber salad ($2) was a refreshing accompaniment to the empanadas.
The food truck has been making the rounds in Northern Virginia and the District for about two months. “We eventually both have bigger goals,” Sarin says without elaboration, generously filled with confidence. How fitting.