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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pet Peeve: High End/Upscale

freshly cooked shrimp served with coarsely ground and creamy grits.

Previously on pet peeves: the best.

A shiny metal trailer is making waves on the interwebs. It's called theModular, helmed by Josh Martinez, and it is yet another of the latest "trendy food trucks". With a difference.

Sous vide pork belly with pickled onions and Granny Smith apples. On "nori rice". The rice was forgettable.
Paul Galvani reviewed the food for, and gave it a thumbs up. Culturemap's Ruthie raved about it. HoustonPress blogs about the product.

For the most part, I agree. It's food that is not only surprising to find served out of a trailer, it's definitely a cut above, and a fair product for the price.

Tuna poke tacos. I applaud the use of wonton shells for the taco, but I think the tuna is minced too finely to be called poke. Flavors were on point, though.

The chicken thighs, in my opinion, were the weakest dish. The meat was mushy, and the flavors reminded me of an ersatz adobo. Pickles helped. The crew hasn't mastered rice making, though. 
But many of the reviewers use the terms "upscale" or "high end" dining, and how surprising it is coming from a trailer. Just what the heck does that mean? Is it the ingredients or techniques? Certainly the source ingredients that theModular's crew tend to use are of pretty humble origins: chicken thighs, duck wings, fish collars. Is it the use of sous vide? Or the compositional plating on paper boats? I don't think cooks behind this truck would themselves use the term upscale to describe their cooking - just good food. I find that the use of "High End" is one of exclusion - that this is food not all of us are worthy to partake - and that doesn't seem to be the philosophy of theModular.

So I won't insult their cooking by calling it that. I'll call it good cooking at a fair price. Just needs to make better rice.

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