Vikram Vij is recognized by the New York Times as having one of the best Indian Restaurants in the world. Despite having two beautiful restaurants on South Granville - Vij's and Rangoli, the accolades have brought long waits.
Vikram partnered with the Gourmet Syndicate - the masterminds behind the Roaming Dragon to bring a food truck inspired by the major railway stops in Indian and the regional specialties they each have.
Since it's launch, Vij's Railway Express has become one of the most popular food trucks - an affordable way to taste Vij's food without the wait, and best of all, it's downtown.
The food truck is located on West Georgia Street at Thurlow St. and is an attraction in it's own right.
Some of the menu items such as the jackfruit curry and lamb popsicles come straight from restaurant menus but also has it's own surprises. I ordered Seared Ling Cod in Coconut Curry with a generous piece of fresh naan and garnished it with pickled mushrooms, chili's, cabbage, and salsa. Does it taste as good as it looks? Damned right it does!
This January, Vij's food truck won the People's Choice Award for best new restaurant by Enroute Magazine. Some 35,000 people voted from a list of 35 restaurants deemed to be the best new openings in Canada by food professionals. This was the first time a food truck was included on the list.
As a foodie, I was honoured to be involved in the process of choosing where the street food vendors were to be located throughout our downtown. Locations are chosen based on pedestrian traffic, demand, proximity to brick and mortar businesses and adjacent public space. I have a unique insight into how it works.
Despite a dichotomy of rigid rules and lax regulation, Vancouver has a street food scene that not only flourishes, it is envied all over.
Applicants bring their menu and business plans to a panel of experts for review, and when approved, can choose from the locations I helped select. Dozens will apply but space is limited. Of course, the most popular spots are close to other food trucks, such as the Vancouver Art Gallery but we've seen success in other areas.
Last summer, we set up a temporary pod called "Truck Stop" at Portal Park near the Olympic Cauldron and sponsored Street Food City as part of Dine Out Vancouver with Tourism Vancouver. It's a personal joy of mine to walk the crowds and voyeuristically observe people enjoying food together. Food trucks bring amazing life to our downtown.