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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New on Little Rock streets: the Royal Kabob Wagon

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Royal Kabob Wagon at Boone and Park streets

Had to jet home during lunch and take care of a couple of blah-tasks (bills, cleaning, etc.), so I was just planning to dump hummus on spinach and call it a salad. Luckily, the Royal Kabob Wagon has taken up residence in a parking lot near my apartment, changing my plans on the spot.

Little Rock newest food truck is owned by Roy Windham, a Pulaski Tech culinary school grad and self-professed hippie. He met a couple of guys from Vermont at Wakarusa, hopped aboard their food truck and went to a few more music festivals, then stole all their recipes, came back to Little Rock, bought and revamped an old lemonade truck and parked off Boone St./Markham, across from Arkansas School for the Deaf. And that's how Burlington's Ahli Baba Kabob Shop came to Little Rock, disguised as Roy Windham's Royal Kabob Wagon, in a nutshell. Or rather, in a pita.

The menu is pretty basic — chicken kabob and veggie curry pita for $6, falafel pita for $5, handcut fries for $2 and a Chicago style gyro sandwich for $8. (The difference between Chicago style and New York style, according to Windham, is that Chicago style has spicier meat...I find both styles strange, since neither Chicago or New York are what I would call "Mediterranean.")

And the meat actually is from Chicago, said Windham. Everything else he makes himself.

The Royal Kabob Wagon has been puttering around Little Rock for a solid three weeks now. Windham parks in the Sirius Spa (Boone and Park streets) parking lot daily, he's in front of White Water on late-night Saturdays, and he plans to be at the Arkansas Earth Day festival on Main Street on April 20, if anyone wants to check out the eats.

I thought the fries had a good texture — not too crispy or too soggy — and Windham shakes a bit of rosemary salt over them, which lends an almost meaty flavor.

I also had a soft pita slathered with homemade tahini sauce and folded around yellow curried cauliflower, carrots and something green and mushy (cooked spinach and celery, maybe?), raw lettuce tomatoes and tangy raw onions. The veggies had a bit of a grilled flavor, and this was actually the mildest curry ever — not even a hint of heat — but everything seemed fresh. You could call the flavors subtle or you could call the sandwich bland. It needed a dash of salt to be sure, but I enjoyed it because I could actually taste the difference between the veggies. (In my experience, this is a rarity when soft veggies have been cooked together.)

It tasted like hippie food. In fact, it tasted like hippie food from the '90s. Or maybe it's just that I couldn't get the music festival thing out of my mind...

Veggie Curry Pita

Rosemary Fries

Roy Windham of Royal Kabob Wagon

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