Metro Vancouver ‘trucker’ food (Part 2): Boca’O Spain in a Bite and Takenaka leave you wanting more – Vancouver Sun

Boca’O and Takenaka food trucks offer a wide array of very good Spanish and Japanese foods.
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Last week, I wrote about Top Rope Birria and Lobster Shack food trucks. This week, let me introduce you to Boca’O Spain in a Bite and Takenaka — one Spanish and the other, Japanese — both worth getting to know.
But first, I visited a couple of other trucks recently and found a dish or two that spoke to me.
Shameless Buns operates out of a colourful Jeepney, a cute little bus from the Philippines.
“We are vibrant, we are kitschy and we are shamelessly Filipino” is the declaration on their Street App site. Lo and behold, I liked the fusion confusion of spaghetti lumpia, pleasantly plump, tidily bundled and tasty. And so was a sandwich with Filipino sausage, pickled papaya slaw, fried egg and condiments — not as tidy but lots of delicious going on.
And if, unlike me, you like poutine, you’ll love the poutine-like dishes with sloppy toppings over the very good sinigang fries — which capture the sour of a tamarind-based Filipino soup.
And at Rolling Cashew, a vegan food truck, the Thai cashew cauliflower ‘wings’ were really good, as were the Crockets, potato croquettes with a choice of sauce. Oh, and the vegan chocolate hazelnut mousse cake was excellent. Both of these trucks can be found on the Streetfood App.
At Boca’O Spain in a Bite and Takenaka, I’m open to a long-term relationship as I suspect you can’t go wrong with anything you decide to order. I’m keen to try more of their food.
Where: Check website for locations and their online menu for pickup or delivery.
When: Tuesday to Sunday, lunch and dinner hours.
Info: , 778-558-0064
Get a load of that $2,000 leg of jamon Iberico de bellota. I’m thinking this food truck has delusions of restaurant glamour. This jamon is the grand dame of Spanish hams from acorn-fed pigs and cured 36 months. I didn’t expect it on a food truck.
Well, this isn’t just a restaurant wannabe, it’s a restaurant-going-to-be when the pandemic backs off. Boca’O hit the street in 2019 for a test run before the owners committed to bricks and mortar.
“We weren’t sure of our vision when we opened but we found our way a year ago,” says Raquel Grebler-Quesne, part of the two couples running it. But then, bam! Pandemic.
The menu is ambitiously varied: organic beef burgers with a little bit of Spain in each; jamon Iberico bellota dishes including one on a bed of potatoes with fried egg; rice dishes like paella; a seafood dish with squid ink rice; bocatas (baguette sandwiches); bowl food with toppings over rice or patatas bravas; bikini sandwiches, grilled on white bread; Spanish tortillas; croquetas; toasts with toppings; tapas dishes; and salads.
If you go online, you can put in meal orders for two, four or more with a day’s notice. We ordered a paella for two ($46) and an appetizer platter ($48) to pick up.
The Bomba rice for the paellas is cooked in fish and prawn stock and our order came with chicken, mussels, prawns, squid and clams.
“The secret is not to move the rice in the pan so it sticks and gets toasted and crispy and gives a smoky flavour,” says Grebler-Quesne.
All the better if you order it in a paella pan for a $10 deposit, refundable upon return. We didn’t want to make a return visit so ordered ours in compostable bowls.
“We do everything from scratch and use only natural products,” Grebler-Quesne says.
The paellas, she says, sell well and I don’t doubt that one bit.
The appetizer platter looked super impressive when I unpacked them onto a plate I bought in Spain — croquettes filled with bechamel and Serrano ham, patatas bravas with aioli and salsa brava, Manchego cheese, Salchichon Iberico sausage, a round of Spanish tortilla — the potato dish, not the Mexican flatbread — baguette toasts, one with house-made chorizo and another with Morcilla (pork sausage with pig’s blood, seasonings, rice) and both capped with fried quail’s egg and piquillo peppers. Some piparra pepper, anchovies and olives added tart notes. For $94 in total, it was good value for a feast.
They’ll be adding to the menu as summer moves in — dishes like fideua, a paella copycat, only with short noodles.
“But we’ll add more seafood than in our paella and it’ll taste a little smokier. It’s cooked in a paella pan,” says Grebler-Quesne, who with her partner Joseph Quesne previously ran a small restaurant chain and bakery/cafe/deli in Santiago, Chile.
Other summer add-ons include gazpacho, non-alcoholic sangria, creme brulée and St. James tart, also known as tarta de Santiago, a gluten-free almond cake, and Spanish horchata made with tiger nuts (chufa), a nutrient rich tuber unlike the Mexican horchata made with a rice base.
By summer’s end, they plan to run a Colombian food business of some sort — food truck? ghost restaurant? — as one of the partners is from Colombia. Dishes will include arepa, empanadas and chuzos (skewered meats). Arepa? Did someone say arepa? Count me in.
Where: Coho Commissary, 1370 Georgia Street, Vancouver
When: Open daily for lunch and dinner pick-up at Coho Commissary. Check Instagram for truck schedule and locations: @takenaka_yvr
Info: , 604-802-9982
Chef Shogo Takenaka cooked at Kingyo and Raisu, both izakayas of note, prior to starting up Takenaka a year ago.
His food truck menu focuses on sushi — rolls, aburi, temaki and sushi bowls along with a handful of curry dishes, appetizers and dessert. The online menu for pickup at the commissary or delivery sets the bar higher with the bonus of a seasonal kaiseki bento box ($30) and makuno uchi bento ($28).
We ordered the kaiseki bento and the daily omakase aburi sushi set ($22) for pickup at Coho Commissary. The kaiseki bento has nine compartments each laden with appetizer-size bites, like chicken karaage, futomaki sushi, and Wagyu beef meatball. The aburi sushi had four different, really fresh seared seafood with toppings and sauces — eight pieces in all.
The makuno uchi bento comes with appetizer bites but has more of a seafood focus and some bara chirashi — sushi rice topped with cubed, marinated sashimi. The expression means ‘between acts’ and evolved from the Edo period when makuno uchi was intermission food during Noh and Kabuki theatre performances.
At another time, ordering from the Coho Commissary site, we tried Takenaka’s Wagyu beef curry over rice. I gotta say, I was happy each time with the quality, value and cookery know-how.
The big seller both on the truck and online is the aburi sushi. The Wagyu curry comes in second and the seafood bowls, third.
Next time, I aim to try some temaki — on a pick-up or delivery order, it’s roll your own temaki. The uni temaki sounds delish, with uni, snow crab and ikura, as does the yuzu sauce tuna tataki with tobiko, pickles, and kaiware (sprouted daikon seeds).
Takenaka has teamed up with Franklin Lab and should you want some very good ramen — trust me, it’s good — as part of your order, it’s on Takenaka’s online menu.
Since the uni temaki is a big hit, it’s got the team thinking of maybe starting a restaurant with a focus on uni. Maybe, they say. In the future.
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Blog: Word of Mouth
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