Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Vietnamese Food Truck at Stanford

Working at a new company, one of the most difficult things is to find some regular places for lunch. I tend to eat alone during lunch because of my unstructured schedule. I could go to lunch at 11.30am one day, and at 1.30pm on another. Unless someone asked me, I seldom go out with others. As a result, I don't go to a sit down place very often. I hate sitting on a table waiting for food to be served.

Unfortunately around Menlo Park, there isn't really anything quick and easy. I spend about two to three months going to Safeway to get their prepackaged sushi for lunch. The sushi is fresh and tasty, and there are usually some tables to sit outside the grocery store, but it just isn't satisfying.

About a month ago, I stopped by Stanford University to visit a open house for the new Huang's Engineering Building. On my way back, I decided to stop by the Tresidder Union to get a Subway sandwish. After the quick lunch, on my way to my car, I stumbled upon a food truck which seemed to sell Asian food.

Few days later, I took the trouble to drive to Santa Teresa St, and went into the truck for the first time. The truck is set up to have a rolls of food on each side. Most of the items are identical on each side. You would pick up a container, add rice or noodle, and any of the ten or so entrées and come out from the back of the truck. Then the container will be weighted by a Vietnamese lady on a scale, and she will tell you how much it costs. She also has a few coolers of drinks, in can and bottles. To my surprise, a can of coke only costs 50 cents. I would have to pay close to 30 cents sometimes at a grocery store.

There are a big variety of food served by the truck. I almost always ends up with the same items, like green curry chicken, fried fish, teriyaki fish, some vegetables and an fried egg roll. But I am not exactly consistent with the amount I take. Sometimes my lunch only cost $5.50 but other times it goes up to $7.

It is not exactly easy for me to come here since there is limited visitor parking around. The parking isn't free either. It cost $1.50 to park for an hour. A few times, I drove around to all the visitor parking areas and ended up leaving and eat elsewhere.

Once the food is purchased, I could walk just a couple of minutes to the eating area outside Tresidder Union. There you can see all kind of people. Students, university staffs, construction workers and may be others like me. There are always plenty of seating and I feel at ease enjoying my lunch.

This past week, I happened to park my car in front of the truck. It was very late, almost near the time they were leaving. Luckily the lady told me that's still food left. When I came out of the truck, she gave me a discount saying because I was late! I didn't mind of course. Half an hour later, when I return to my car, the truck was still there to my surprise. It turned out the truck battery was drained, and since I happened to be in front of the trunk, I helped the owner jumped started the car. I was glad to help, and because of that, I think they recognized my face.

Since then, every time I purchase food from them, the lady just ignore the scale and gives me a good price. I started feeling bad and did ask her if she was sure.

I am glad I can find a place to relax and enjoy good food during lunch time. There are plenty of other places at Stanford I have yet discover. But I will sure try out the other ones very soon.

Here are a couple of links if you wish to check them out:

http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/physics/related/eateries.html

http://www.motif.stanford.com/dept/visitorinfo/activities/dining.html

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