Picture dancing in a closet. With a partner. Fast. Now you have an idea of what it's like when Jeremy Esterly and Chris Hodgson are working side by side at Dim and den Sum, Cleveland's first gourmet food truck.
It's actually a step van tricked out with burners, a grill, a deep fryer, coolers, propane tanks and a generator. With barely enough room to change their minds, the guys stack and pack beef shank tacos ($3 each) for hungry hordes wherever they stop.
"We had 45 people in line during a thunderstorm," Hodgson reports with a mix of pleasure and astonishment. "Strangers start conversations," adds Esterly. "It's a cool little instant community. A nerdy guy will be talking with someone that probably would have beat him up in high school."
The roving restaurant has been spotted around town for lunch and late-night munching since May. Track its travels on Facebook and Twitter; then head out to score one of its amazing PBLT's. The sandwich features pork shoulder confit and thick-cut bacon heaped on a soft bun with tomato jam, lettuce and Sriracha mayo. At $6 it's one of the most expensive menu items (second only to the $7 Dim burger).
Chowing down in a parking lot isn't exactly fine dining, but I was in my happy place on the curb eating a Jjang Dawg ($5) with pulled pork, kimchee slaw, smashed Tater Tots and bourbon soy barbecue sauce. Or as Hodgson calls it, a Polish boy on steroids.
It takes just two or three minutes to get your order, but this is no McMeal. Esterly and Hodgson, who first met a few years ago while working at Fire in Shaker Square, are slow-braising, smoking and prepping sauces and condiments from scratch in a commercial kitchen and using local, seasonal, artisan ingredients like the best restaurants. But going mobile and taking service to the streets, they say, keeps the food so affordable even their friends can enjoy it. No doubt you will too.