Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ta Bom! A Model Food Truck

LA's first Brazilian food truck was just a few months old when I first came across them. I eagerly dashed over to Wilshire Bl. one afternoon to check them out. When I saw pastel and coxinha(pronounced co-sheen-ya) on the menu my heart skipped a beat.

Coxinha(a chicken croquette in the shape of a chicken thigh) is't done very well by the Brazilian restaurants here in LA. The best ones,at Woodspoon and Rio Brazil Cafe, are the mini-sized ones you get for birthday parties in Brazil.These are great but don't have the usual moisture. There's just something about that hefty coxinha you get from the many lanchonetes in Brazil.The only full-sized one in town is at Bossa Nova, which is tainted by a coarse, KFC flavored breading. The flavor and texture are all wrong.

A pastel, the flaky skinned savory pastry? Only came across one, at Cafe Brazil, which is more like a baby rattle with its paltry filling.Again, other restaurants do them, but they are the mini-sized variety and look more like baby empanadas.

Ta Bom was started at the prompting of Ilse Marques' Brazilian-Korean daughters, Jaqueline and Juliana Kim.

Ilse comes from Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, a southern state in Brazil, where super models are plentiful. A top designer could show up at the Iguatemi mall in Florianopolis and hold an impromtu fashion show.Ilse came to Sao Paulo where she graced the catwalks of the professional modeling scene and even did some television and film.

When here daughters were born she left her modeling career behind to focus on her family, which ultimately led Ilse to move with her husband to the US where she believed her daughters would have a better future.

Ilse was always a great cook, and had a catering company for a while, but the slowing economy left her without work. She had been out of work for a year when Jaqueline and Juliana convinced her to move her operations to a food truck, with the two girls as her assistants. The girls take orders, prep, slave over coxinhas, and are the face of Ta Bom.

Ilse, Cesar Coutino, Juliana, and Jaqueline.

They hired Cesar Coutino, a cook from Chiapas, Mexico to round out their crew and hit the streets of LA.

The new food trucks can be hit and miss. At times there is much more business going on than great cooking, but Ta Bom is a mom and daughter operation that cares about the food and the quality of their ingredients. All their beef comes from La Estancia, which they proudly display on their window.

As for the coxinha? Well, that's what I'm here for. I am a coxinha addict. I fly to Brazil and ritualistically down a a coxinha when I arrive to Brazil, and it's the last thing I taste before I board the plane.

Ta Bom's coxinha is excellent. The breading is as it should be, more fine than course, which comes from using Brazilian bread crumbs, and a well seasoned filling. Coxinha qualifies as one of the many Brazilian foods that costs in labor, well more than its retail value. A labor intensive snack that is gone in seconds.

Ilse serves it with a pico de gallo like salsa that is called vinagrete in Brazil. But, you can also ask for ketchup or mustard to put on it, which is how most Brailians enjoy coxinha in Brazil. Some malagueta pepper sauce, simply referred to as pimenta, will work too.

Since it is so time consuming to make, it's only fitting that I drive 45 minutes to where Ta Bom parks just to partake in 5 minutes of dining from ordering to finish.

These go fast so better get your bunda(butt)to the curb when they park and place your order.

The pastels, while appearing to be a simple food,are another labor intensive food that have to be made to order.They don't really exist in LA in this form. Ta Bom has savory pastels of cheese, pepper jack cheese, chicken, and beef.

A pastel is a street food that should be eaten with two hands, where a light and tasty crust gives way to something special inside. It should be explosive.

One of the highlights is the pepper jack, an oozing cheese filling with a mild bite of spice.

The ground beef filling is fantastic. Each pastel has a lovley flakiness, and the juicy and rich ground beef is extremely pleasurable. Stands in Brazil can have over ten fillings, these are a true Brazilian street food.

For dessert there is the decadent banana with Nutella pastel, dusted with cinnamon. This is reason alone to come to Ta Bom.

The cachorro(ca-sho-ho)quente, Brazilian hot dog will really knock you out. The formidable hot dog packs corn, stick fries, mustard, mayo, and ketchup. South American dogs are loaded with ingredients, and Jaqueline says that this is actually a minimalist version compared to the usual Brazilian hot dog. The textures and composition of flavors are what make this such a delicious bite.

The hamburgao(ham-boor-gow) takes the Brazilian concept of abundance up another level by adding a fried egg into the aforementioned gathering of toppings.

This is one serious hamburger, and a popular very item with Ta Bom's male customers.It's a must for you burger aficionados out there.

The have burritos and tacos too, no worries, there is a Mexican chef on board, too. Although I haven't tried them, I got a glimpe at another customer's plate one afternoon, and thought they looked very inviting.

About now, you're wondering how this Brazilian diet produces a looker like Gisele Bundchen. Well, Ta Bom has the Gisele wrap, a little something for the lighter side of dining.

A traditional Brazilian style chicken salad is cloaked in a spinach wrap. When I say a traditional Brazilian chicken salad, I mena to say their seasonings and little additions that make it unique. Brazilians love chicken salads, potato salads, and pasta salads, which you may have taken notice if you've ever paid attention to the salad bars at churrascarias. There's nothing dull about this cool, and well-seasoned treat.It's a fine option during this Brazilian bikini season.

The sweet obsession of Brazil, the brigadeiro, named after brigadeer, Eduardo Gomes is here too. Sweetened condensed milk, coco powder, and butter are mixed together, a simple dessert, but after one bite, a strong salute to the airman of note is in order.

Ta Bom means it's good, or everything's good in Portuguese. Many an argument and misunderstanding is resolved this way in Brazil. A thumbs up aften accompanies the phrase.

Ta Bom is what a truck should be, not a business model, but a model food delivery system.This is authentic Brazilian street food from a family that cooks together and cares about their customers. The cooking and seasoning are consistent throughout the entire menu, with the balance in flavor display the mark of a real home cook, and the the food is put together 100% Brazilian.

Give them a try and find out why everything is good at Ta Bom!

Ta Bom

Ta Bom on twitter for truck location and business hours


nelehelen said...

bill, the food looks delicious!! Good to see a Brazilian food truck otu there now!

streetgourmetla said...

Nelehelen-Agreed!Let's go.

gourmetpigs said...

Looks good. Seems like they're around Abbot Kinney a lot, which is pretty doable for me. I should try those coxinhas soon!

streetgourmetla said...

Gourmet Pigs-Yes, the coxinhas.I'm worse than the Cocoa Puffs bird when I get around those things.