Add: 20 Dong Hu Road, Shanghai 东湖路20号
Tel: +86 (21) 5404 8085
Hours: [brunch] Sat-Sun 11:00am-3:00pm; [lunch] Tue-Sun 11:00am-3:00pm; [dinner] Mon-Sun 6:00pm-10:30pm
Price: [special brunch set] RMB250; [à-la-carte] RMB200-300
Visited: April 2016
Will return: Yes
Shanghai is definitely missing out on the food truck culture, thanks to our food safety authorities. Fortunately, Dumbo Truck came rumbling (figuratively speaking) to our rescue last summer. Brainchild of the el Willy group, this engine-less truck is permanently parked in the terrace of elEfante, one of Chef Willy Moreno’s numerous dining concepts across the city, making it the easiest-to-find food truck in the world. True to its roots, Dumbo serves a selection of tapas, as well as some classic long drinks and cocktails.
Last weekend, however, Dumbo Truck deviated from its Spanish roots and forayed into a fusion with Korean and South African flavors, cooking up a special pop-up brunch in collaboration with guest chefs Bina Yu of Chi-Q and Kim Melvin of The Commune Social. For RMB250, the set menu included a Bloody Mary and six courses by three amazing chefs. The “Sweet and Spicy” theme was expertly woven into the menu.
Sweet: Braaied Mealie with Herb and Caper Dressing was a surprisingly rich dish to start a meal with, and set the tone for the entire menu. The braaied mealie (a.k.a. grilled corn on the cob) was very sweet and buttery, but it was balanced by the capers and lifted by the herby dressing and the salty cheese.
Spicy: The Smoked Salmon Salad with Crunchy Potato Noodle was a most effective wake-up call for my palette. This simple-looking salad was surprisingly complex in both flavor and texture. My taste buds were greeted by the citrusy, crunchy greens and salty smoked salmon, then assaulted by the boldly spiced crispy potato noodles, and finally soothed by the creamy smooth dill crème fraîche. Refreshing and exciting.
Sweet: While the Vetkoek with Bacon Jam and Scrambled Egg may look like a plain old breakfast sandwich, it was anything but. The Vetkoek, a type of fried bread from South Africa, had a soft and chewy dough encased in a crisp exterior, and the scrambled egg was very nicely done. But the star of the dish was undoubtedly the bacon jam. Expertly riding the line between sweet and savory, it was the highlight of the meal for me. Best breakfast sandwich ever!
Spicy: This simple-looking Korean BBQ Chicken Taco packed some serious flavors. The tender BBQ chicken was already delicious on its own, but it was the salsa that brought this dish to life. Although at first taste the salsa was pleasantly acidic and only mildly spicy, the heat built slowly but surely, only slightly tempered by the light and creamy guacamole.
Sweet: After the heat from the taco, the sweetness of the Bulgogi with Ginger Rice and Pickled Veggies was most welcome. The tender, succulent beef was enriched by an amazing marinade and enlivened by the light pickles. However, the rice was just a little too sweet and sticky for me.
Sweet and spicy: Finally, a trio of South African traditional desserts that managed to incorporate the spicy into the sweet. The Malva Pudding was infused with a hint of vanilla, the Koeksisters was flavored boldly with cinnamon and aniseed, and the Hertzoggies was a delightful marriage of apricot and coconut.
The three chefs managed to pull off a masterful three-way fusion. Each dish alone was a study in balance, and all six dishes came together into an incredibly coherent meal. Kudos to three amazing chefs!