“Roaming Dragon” Set To Turn Page On Vancouver Street Food

4691267798_d19e5233a3_bphotos by Erin Simkin

A new company called Gourmet Syndicate is poised to make a move on Vancouver city streets if City Hall’s mobile food truck pilot program doesn’t ruffle any No Fun feathers next month. Their first mobile catering brand is a pimped out, 25 foot pan-Asian looker called Roaming Dragon.

It’s a fully equipped kitchen on wheels, starring the consultative talents of none other than Don Letendre, formerly the long-time executive chef at the Opus Hotel. His menu showcases panko crusted Chinese sausage and shrimp stuffed rice balls; chicken karaage with passionfruit and palm sugar; hoisin pork belly slider steam buns; duck confit salads with pickled pineapple and more. I just got off the phone with company principal Jason Apple, and he promises restaurant quality food on the streets very soon. Too good to be true? Nope. It just debuted at the Richmond Night Market this week, and folks from city council have already been given a full walk-through and taste.

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The coolest thing about Gourmet Syndicate is that it’s basically a turnkey operation for prospective truck owners.  You explain your concept and they guide you through the process step by step, navigating all the red tape and rigmarole that might trip up neophytes. They pimp your ride with whatever it is you need to fit your menu requirements (burners, fryers, etc), et viola…you’re rockin’ a fly food machine, welcomed wherever you drive as a demigod.

From the sound of it, they may also provide maintenance and storage. Perhaps within a year or three they’ll have a base of operations housing a whole fleet of trucks that venture out every day. When I asked Apple to elaborate, he tried thusly, “Ok, imagine if Refuel had a truck…” He didn’t get far before I started thinking about walking down Hastings two-fisting buttermilk fried Polderside chicken. It screwed with my ability to concentrate, so I stopped listening then and there. This is too rad. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

  • Jonathan Ross

    You know man, when I was a younger person there was a Chinese Food truck that used to park on St. George street at the University of Toronto. I used to eat there all the time. A little greasy, but still tasty.

    They had a daily special: St. George’s chicken. It was really good…

    Then one day we noticed that we used to see a lot pigeons flying underneath that truck while we sat on the steps eating…but we hardly ever saw pigeons fly out.

    Maybe they were just going out the other side of the truck. Yeah. That’s the ticket. That’s it.

  • Scout Magazine

    I think I remember that same truck from my days at UofT. That shit was gross…

  • AIC

    Is that seriously styrofoam in those photos? It must still be 1984 where we all think that’s still okay to use polystyrene in takeout containers.

    I really hope I’m just misinterpreting the product in the photo, but if not, that’s seriously lame.

  • http://www.roamingdragon.com J Apple

    The products seen in the photo are sugarcane fiber trays, 100% biodegradable…

  • http://deliciousness.posterous.com Col

    Best news ever!

  • AIC

    I stand 100% biodegradable, err… corrected.

  • Stoked Reader

    We saw them at the night market in Richmond. It’s ok, a little pricey for that space and not the right clientele for them, but I can see it being very successful in the right location. It’s a great step forward for vancouver street food!

    I am curious however where you found chinese take out boxes that are biodegradable?

  • http://www.RoamingDragon.com RoamingDragon

    We’re at the Summer Night Market as we wait for the green-light from the City Hall. We’re catering and participating in special events, and as soon as we’re able, we’ll be hitting the streets of Vancouver and other municipalities!

    The flat trays are sugarcane fiber (100% biodegradable), and the takeout boxes are standard fold-pak boxes. The majority of the menu items are served on the sugarcane fiber trays…

    Any great ideas for events we should be attending?

  • Greg Phillips

    tried their food on Friday evening at the Richmond Night Market – totally fantastic and one of the best foods that evening. Looking forward to seeing them around Vancouver this summer (here’s hoping!)

  • Morty

    The Chinese food truck on St. George (in front of the bookstore) was terrible. Forget Spadina; I’d have walked to Woodbridge first. The chip truck in front of Sid Smith, on the other hand…

  • Ash

    Hah there’s probably about 3-4 different chinese food trucks around the U of T campus now, there is one sitting in front of robarts 12 hours a day.

    That being said, going to go check out the roaming dragon truck in about half an hour. Stoked!

  • http://zacscookingschool.cloudprofile.com Zac

    Sounds like a fantastic idea! Me and a few others at Zac’s Cooking school in vancouver went down to Portland to check out the street-vendor scene there. Not only will this give us a new way to get fed in vancouver, it lends itself to quick tastes of interesting ethnic food that are not front & centre here! Bring it on!

  • Jonathan Ross

    > I think I remember that same truck from my days at UofT.
    > That shit was gross…

    Well, I rather meant “good” in the sense of greasty, overfried, overoiled cheap student chinese food. It was definitely not “good” in the sense of good dining, but instead of a hot dog? Sign me up.

    I’m sure my stomach couldn’t handle it today, after years of substantial refinement.

  • http://www.apollocarts.com Apollo Carts

    If you need a well out fitted cart to go with your trucks. We are in Surrey.

  • jerry bradley

    great stuff at kits

  • Hanna Apple

    GOod for you. Sounds like something I would love to see in Henderson, NV.