Sights from the 1st Annual L.A. Street Food Festival

Hungry people eating and waiting for food. © 2010 Michael Kang

Food trucks, mobile kitchens or roach coaches, whatever you call them, they have become quite a phenomenon.  Long lines often form at the most popular trucks late into the night outside of bars and clubs.

One day some enterprising folks must have wondered,  “what if we brought all these food vendors together in one place at one time?”

Well, the result was the L.A. Street Food Festival.

While the event was certainly a major success for the organizers, it was a mixed bag for the attendees.  There were long lines everywhere. The line to enter the event stretched well around the block and once you got in you waited even longer (most times were over an hour) for your food.

What I found really fascinating about all of this was that so many people were content to wait and wait and wait, just to feel like they were part of the event.  I admit I was one of those people.  While I was waiting 90 plus minutes in the line for Dogzilla, Japanese style hotdogs, I made friends with the other captives around me.  While we waited we discussed the different foods we had experienced that day, all the while numerous friends who had been waiting in other lines brought food from other trucks for us to try.

Friendly staff checking people into the event. © 2010 Michael Kang

There was a friendly family from Irvine in front of me.  They had their young daughter with them in a stroller, which happened to make a perfect mobile TV tray.  We shared sesame chicken wings and Hawaiian pork sandwiches.  The group behind me were from different areas of L.A. proper–Century City, Silverlake–and beyond.  They each carried a piece of a cardboard box to use as a tray to carry any food loot they managed to score.

Vendor Fry Girl serving delicious mini doughnuts in the V.I.P. area. © 2010 Michael Kang

The ridiculousness of the situation was certainly not lost on any of us.  We all imagined the genius food vendors that set up shop outside the event serving the poor souls who were still waiting to enter.  We wondered how many tables at restaurants there were with no waiting all around the city now that so many thousands of foodies were here.

I met a very drunk, but infinitely funny USC student from Russia (“I’m front St. Petersburgh, the Soviets used to call it Leningrad”) in the V.I.P. area who refused to wait in line for food.  Why?

Look at these unhappy people. What are they doing? Waiting in long lines.  It reminds me of Soviet Russia, unhappy people waiting in long lines.

Lucky diners moving toward their next target. © 2010 Michael Kang

And yes, I did finally got my hotdog. It was delicious.

Enjoying a Dogzilla Dog

Nom, nom, nom. A Dogzilla dog. © 2010 Michael Kang