Mixing Bowl Asian Grill

IMG_2861At the Columbus Food Truck Festival yesterday, the four of us looked long and hard at the dozens of food truck options.  Finally, we settled on the Mixing Bowl Asian Grill.  It’s a testament to the food this place offers that a committed meat-eater (me), a vegetarian (the Rising Star), a person who boasts incessantly about her California excursions and California cuisine (the Origamist), and a person committed to eating a taco at all costs (the Investor) were able to agree on a single food truck.

The MBAG was a good choice on two levels.  First and foremost, the food was great.  Second, the MBAG had a two-person bowl-building operation underway that caused its waiting line to be the fastest moving line at the Food Truck Festival, which is incredibly important if you are really, really hungry and can’t bear to smell the mouth-watering scents for one more second. 

IMG_2863The MBAG follows a customer choice approach that appeals to me.  You figure out whether you want a rice bowl, a noodle bowl, a salad bowl, a burrito, or a taco.  Then you order your protein, hot toppings, cold toppings, sauces, and crunch from a menu that offers multiple choices.  I got a rice noodle bowl with grilled chicken (including the “extra protein” option), sauteed bean sprouts, egg, some daikon and carrot slaw, and ginger soy vinaigrette sauce.  One window starts the creation process and the other finishes it and rings you up.  Prices are reasonable (the basic chicken noodle bowl is only $8, and the extra protein is an additional $3), as shown by the fact that the MBAG would have charged only $1 for bottled water where the Columbus Commons folks were charging $3. 

The resulting noodle bowl was excellent, with just the right combination of heat, coolness, and crunch.  I used chopsticks to eat every morsel, and even when looking longingly at the empty bowl felt a certain pride at my role in its creation.  The Rising Star got some appalling tofu-oriented noodle bowl, the Origamist got a noodle bowl that included kimchi with a spicy kick that made her yearn for a beverage, and the Investor got, well, a taco.  The MBAG somehow satisfied us all, and that is what Food Truck Summer is all about.

Another Really Great Story

Richard continues to hit it out of the park in his internship for the Chicago Tribune this summer.  His most recent story is a really great piece about how the recession hit the South Side of Chicago especially hard and that, years later, the development efforts in South Side neighborhoods still have not recovered.  The piece includes a well-done and easy to use interactive map that allows you to look at the impact of the recession on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.

IMG_2349This kind of story is really good reporting for two reasons.  First, it addresses a topic — the status of rich neighborhoods versus poor neighborhoods in America, with the impact of crime and teetering city finances thrown in for good measure — that is not frequently addressed in the media. It’s not a pleasant, or easy, story to report, but it’s essential to cover if we are to get a true sense of economic reality.

Second, it involves real shoe-leather reporting, which often involves digging into public records like construction permits and figuring out boring topics like tax increment financing districts.  It’s easy to call the head of a development agency, get his or her spin in a pre-packaged quote, and stop there; it’s much more challenging and time-consuming to sift through documents obtained from a municipal office and do the kinds of painstaking, but powerful and irrefutable, comparisons that Richard has done in this piece.  People might pitch things to advance their agendas, but the construction permits don’t lie, because without the permits nothing gets built.

Forgive me for a little proud bragging — although what’s a family blog for if not for a little parental boasting? — but I greatly admire Richard’s willingness to roll up his sleeves and tackle some of the tough and challenging issues found in the urban areas of America.  He has become a really fine reporter.

Still Summer

IMG_2886It’s been a remarkably cool summer — on this August morning’s walk, patches of frost were visible on the ground (!) — but it’s still summer, as these kid bikes left on the curb attest.  When you’re a kid and it’s summer, you squeeze every minute out of the experience, and that means riding your bike until it’s too dark to see, then getting up the next morning and doing it again.

Alas, the days of true summer are waning fast.  For the kids in our neighborhood the first day of school is next Monday.