Chef Ludo Lefebvre is one of those eponymous celebrity chefs. We certainly got a lot of ‘em our here in LaLa land. Fortunately, he’s pretty damn good at what he does. At the end of the day, isn’t that point?
The first place I heard about the Ludo Truck was (of course) the Los Angeles episode of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. At the time, I thought of him as the scrappy up and comer. A guy (with an incredibly hot wife, and adorable newborn) fighting his way through the Los Angeles Food Scene on the margins.
Ehhh…not so much. He was never really a scrappy up and comer…at least not in this country. At the time of the Layover, he already had a well regarded Cookbook on the shelves: Crave: The Feast of the Five Senses. He had worked at the apparently legendary restaurants Saint-Étienne (now closed) and L’Arpège in the mother country. He emigrated to Los Angeles in 2009, and turned the kitchen at Bastide on Melrose Place in an award winner. After that, he launched the Ludo Truck. So in the end he’s an incredibly savvy businessman. But what that doesn’t tell you is if his food is any good.
Well…duh…it is. And it’s worth driving to find it.
Ludo Lefebvre loves him some chicken. In fact, he seems to have fallen in serious, serious love with Southern Cooking, particularly Fried Chicken, which has been his specialty since the launch of the Ludo Truck. Now, this is my first successful encounter with the Ludo Truck. I first tried to get some of his chicken a couple of months ago when he was in Glendale, but lack of parking forced me to find alternative eats that day. I finally got hold of him in late December, intending to get myself some Chicken Balls (I know, it’s hard for me to even type that), but alas…I had to settle for Chicken Strips.
And they were good, real good…with a slight caveat that applies only to me and maybe my father. (See below)
Would I have it again? Hellz yeah. Would I drive to find it again? Absolutely.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, I think you should have yourself some Chicken. Now, during his appearances with Bourdain, Lefebvre has emphasized how spicy recipes are, and how much black pepper he uses. Well, he does use a goodly hunk of black pepper. The problem for me is, since I was raised by Texans…you can never use enough black pepper. So, I didn’t get that spicy hit I was promised, but the chicken was damn tasty. On top of that (and I don’t think this gets emphasized enough when it comes to food reviews), the meat was impeccably prepared. I mean…flawless. Moist, tender, tasty, flavorful…superb. If nothing else, the amount of times Lefebvre has looked into the camera and said he loooooves chicken, it’s been an understatement.
So rule number one, get anything on his menu that’s hand dipped and batter fried (which means the Chicken Strips).
I also got the Garlic and Honey Glazed Chicken Wings. Which also comes with a caveat.
First, give him credit, you’re not getting two little Buffalo-style micro wing drenched in sauce, you’re getting two actual farm cut whole chicken wings drizzled in that glaze of his. Aces. And like the Strips, the meat was prepared perfectly.
But once again, as a Texan, I have a lower regard for sweet BBQ or sweet Fried Chicken (syrup drizzled Roscoe’s being a notable exception). So, this stuff was very sweet, so initially I found it disappointing. But then I checked out the generous drippings at the bottom of my container. I got myself a spoon and started enjoying myself. It was there I tasted me the garlic and black pepper in the glaze. It was there that I actually coughed. When you cough, that’s how you know you’ve added enough black pepper for a Texan…or someone who was raised by Texans.
Still, I made one mistake. I forgot to order one of the Lavender Honey Biscuits. Big, big mistake, and one I need to rectify in the near future.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: I’m going to expand my piece on Food Trucks, but I will say three things that have greatly improved things for the consumer. One, the Trucks websites have improved greatly, so finding them is way easier than just turning to Roaming Hunger. Two, they seem savvier about picking locations where there’s some parking so people can drive to them. After all, it’s a business and they can’t just depend on walk-up traffic. They need people like me, hunting them down and driving their way. Three, a lot more of them have mobile laptops and are taking credit cards, which makes your life easier.
I will say, that the Ludo Truck has a big splashy TELEVISION SET showing off the menu. It’s bright, it’s beautiful and clear as a bell. The one thing not on that menu is their drink selection. They have one, but you may have to ask your cashier on what they have. A very minor detail.
PARKING: Depends on where the truck is that day. For today’s visit in Universal City, they were hugged up against a Park, so I was able to get a space. The bad news was…I was totally parked illegally at the time…so I’m glad I got my grub and got the [BLEEP] out of there. But you have to be aware of where it is you’re going and where you’re going to park when you get there.
Well, here’s where things get complicated. It’s a Food Truck after all. Kinda rolls around on four wheels, so pinning it down at any given time requires a bit of research, so please turn to the Ludo Truck website for all the latest.