Sunday, July 16, 2017

Pork & Pepper Wet Dipped Sandwich from Wet Buns Food Truck in Kirkland, WA Awarded 3 of 5 DeliciScore™ (Yeesh) - June 8th, 2017 - A rocky start

I ate this sandwich over a year ago now and was so afraid to publish this somewhat scathing review that I held back.  But I got some feedback from reliable sources that said I didn't want to be a sycophant.

To set the stage, I have been very excited about the idea of the Wet Buns Food Truck since I first heard of it.  i thought it was going to be game-changing and revolutionary and I appreciate the the owner, Forrest is focused solely on French Dip Sandwiches: hey, I had that idea.  So yes, there is some jealousy going on here but in general an objective observer and consumer of the French dip sandwich. This was the first of  two I had from the Wet Buns food truck and I am willing to go back to try other things but I do want to clear the air and get the word out about my opinions of this Seattle-area food service.

And so the review begins....

So I am quite sure that the owner of the Wet Buns food trick, Forrest, is now profiling and indeed actively stalking me since when I was outside at work today I was presented with the famous Wet Buns food truck! I was hungry and couldn't resist the sight of it, so I went for it.  It was indeed karma.  I had previously spoken to Forrest about his truck a few weeks back.  His dipped sandwich project is much like mine and I was generally impressed with his story and the effort he puts into his creations so I was enthusiastic.  He's clearly a talented and experienced cook.  When we previously spoke, he told me about the commissary he uses and all of the complex ingredients and steps he takes that go into the production of his--what is hopefully really good--food.

I walked up to the truck and said hello.  I asked Forrest what I should order and he recommended the Pork & Pepper Dip, so I went for it.  I took a quick glance at what I was getting, "Pork + Mama lil's peppers, caramelized onions and smoked paprika Au Jus".  One nice feature was that all prices include sales tax, so it was $10 grand total.  I handed the cashier a ten.  They also offer chips or soda for $1.50 and water for $1.00.  Not a lot of frills but it was nice they had choices in the type of sandwich I could get.  And they were all in the French dip category.  And authentic pre-dipped like Philippe's the Original does it.

Looking back, I should have probably just ordered the Classic Dip with beef.  But I wanted to humor Forrest.  As I waited a brief couple of minutes for my sandwich to come out (oh the anticipation), the cashier asked me how I knew Forrest and I told him, "I have a blog.  I eat and review French Dip sandwiches."  He laughed and I said, bluntly, and hopefully sarcastically and in a way that he got it, "Yeah, don't fuck it up." and laughed.  The cashier whispered to Forrest, who was making my sandwich, "Pressure's on."  Forrest finished his probably cautious preparations and handed me my very own French dip brown bag with my name, Eric, emblazoned on it in Sharpie.  I carried it off with great pride and anticipation.

As I walked to my desk, I thought to myself what a real treat I was in for.  I stopped by our beverage fridge and chose a can of Diet Pepsi as my pairing for this hot sandwich on what was a hot day.  When I got back to my desk area, I proudly showed off to my boss and a coworker my Wet Buns brown bag. I was nearly positive that this was going to be epic.  But it really wasn't.

Flashback: while ordering, I had learned that there was not an accompanying jus cup; that all of the sandwiches are pre-dipped, like what you see at Philippe's the Original.  I thought this was exciting and authentic at the time.  In retrospect, this lack of ability to personally dip my French dip into jus, made me feel very sad and forlorn.  Why did Forrest get to have all of the dipping fun and I didn't?  Had I paid Forrest extra money to dip my sandwich into jus on my behalf?  Had he thought I would not want to go through the trouble of dipping my very own sandwich into a steaming hot cup of delicious and salty jus?

The outside layer of the bread stayed crisp and in tact for the duration of the meal.  The sandhich had good, robust flavor and was spicy.  The hot peppers were good and the meat was fine.  That said, the pre-dipped'ness of it made the bread on the inside both luke (warm, not Skywalker, you inbred) and somewhat "squishy", even slimy, on the inside, a major downer for me.

The size of the sandwich was fine; not too big, not too small.  Another negative for me was that there was nothing to accompany the sandwich whatsoever.  Just my Pepsi.  I could have ordered chips but that didn't sound good or important.  I needed something to balance it out and had zilch.  I didn't think of ordering chips because they had no packaged meals, so it never came to mind.

To summarize my review of this meal, I ate a lone and spicy pork sandwich at work from a red food truck that was in our parking lot and I paid $10.  Pretty disappointing.  I need to go back now to see if I can redeem myself with the Classic Dip with Beef.  And see if Forrest has it in him to turn out a fantastic sandwich.  I mean he is specializing in this after all, so he must be great at it, right?  The pork was off my French dip mark.  It did not remind me of a French dip.

The following day I contacted Forrest and asked if it was okay to get my jus on the side and the answer is yes.  I need to get my dip on.  I may get it wet and get jus on the side, too, which as I understand it, is an additional $0.50.

Raw tasting notes (from the mind of a French dip freak as he eats his French dip sandwiches and types notes into his computer):
  • Looks quite toasty, even crisp on the outside
  • Pre-dipped
  • Sunny day out, eating from my Kirkland office
  • They were stalking me ie truck was at my office and I couldn't resist
  • Spicy
  • Doesn't taste like a French dip ie pork and paprika does not invoke FD to me
  • Can't take a "money shot" photo since I can't dip it into anything.  This makes me sad
  • No jus creates risk in the sandwich not being hot.  Jus is the great equalizer
  • The sandwich was not sopping wet nor messy to eat, per se
  • The inside bread texture was a bit slimy, even. : (
  • The sandwich was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside like a polar bear eating an igloo
The Scores:

Bread - 2 of 5 due to overall courseness and mushiness on the inside.  Nothing to me stood out about the bread other than the fact it stayed in tact (was durable) and it was even slimy on the inside.
Meat - 2.5 of 5.  It was fine but not notable.
Non-Meat Toppings - 2.5 of 5.  Hot peppers and onions were OK but I didn't really care.
Au Jus - 2 of 5.  Get it on the side.  
Overall - 2 of 5 I give him points foroverall creativity and uniqueness and flavor but I didn't like the mushiness of the bread paired with the hardness of the bread and it was quite spicy and there was no accompanying dipping jus, nor sides. : (  I desperately hope I can redeem myself with a Classic Dip.

The Wet Buns truck.  Note that this picture was taken a couple of weeks prior when I tried to get a French dip at 10 AM in in downtown Bellevue.  Very coincidentally, the truck was at my office building today so it must have been fate.



With my very own French dip bag, I nearly feel famous.  But then again, so does everyone who goes to Wet Buns.  Nice touch, though, the bag.

I selected a Diet Pepsi to accompany my French dip.  To the left of the Pepsi is the one or two napkins they provided the the sandwich, wrapped in butcher paper.

In this picture, the crunchy bread can be seen and one can be witness to the not-too-stuffed sandwich fillings.  Visible grease there to behold on the paper, which is fine, but is that appetizing?



Here's the final bite of my sandwich.  I believe the onions can be seen.  Crisp bread still remains and it encapsulates some wet/moist bread.
Thanks, Forrest, for being so festidious with your sandwich-making.  I appreciate that you are focused on this domain and I hope we can find ways to advance the cause of delicious French Dip sandwiches together some day.