Friday, March 14, 2014

Southern Salt is worth seeking out

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 6:32 AM

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As Little Rock’s food truck scene continues to expand, we are fortunate to see people doing more adventurous things with food. Many trucks work with a regularly changing menu—making it easy to stretch their imaginations every once-in-a-while and provide new, exciting dishes to diners. The food truck becomes a playground for palettes, and it becomes relatively easy to see what works with diners and what doesn’t. One of the newest trucks on the scene does just that, offering a variety of items you won’t find anywhere else in Little Rock. Southern Salt Food Company has quietly been creeping up on Little Rock diners over the last few months—and while they are definitely still building a following, those who’ve hunted them down are making plenty of noise about how much they’ve enjoyed their wares thus far.

It’s slightly difficult to slap a cuisine-type on Southern Salt. As their name implies, they’ve taken steps to channel some classic southern dishes (barbecue often comes into play), but also incorporate the globe-spanning flavors of Korea, Italy, or Mexico. It’s probably safe to consider it “fusion,” but it’s done so in a seamless manner—the flavors come together naturally in new, exciting ways.

On our first visit to Southern Salt, we sampled a dish we’ve seen on their menu a few times now, the “Vietnamese coconut curry ramen” with short ribs. Ramen shops have been popping up across the nation, with patrons sometimes waiting for hours to slurp down fancier versions of what many of us were forced (financially) to choke down during those humbling days of college. Of course, Southern Salt’s version is a far cry from the four-for-a-dollar microwave-and-eat versions many are used to. They take nicely cooked, long, flat noodles and sit them in a rich, slightly spicy sauce tempered by coconut milk. To this is added crunchy carrots and bean sprouts, whole leaves of basil, and lime. The whole pork short ribs were served laying in the broth, and while flavorful and tender, they were a little difficult to eat with nothing but a plastic spoon and chop sticks (although we were happy to see they’ve recently changed the recipe a bit, and are now serving this dish with shredded pork—a much easier-to-eat and better option overall). The dish could have also benefitted from a bit more noodles, but overall we were pleased with the flavors and execution of our first meal here.

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Recently we sampled a few of their sandwich options. Their version of “cheesesteak” did not actually feature any beef, but instead was made up of shredded pork, with provolone cheese, onions and peppers, all on a long, soft hoagie roll. The sandwich was well balanced, with warm melted cheese, tender vegetables, and slightly sweetened pork. The sandwich was a hefty and generously portioned, and we’d definitely order it again when needing a quick lunch on the go. We also got a sample of their “vegetarian BBQ sandwich,” and while those terms would seem completely at odds with each other, Southern Salt managed to produce another surprisingly tasty option. This was a crispy-fried tofu patty topped with onions, marinated cabbage, bell peppers, and lettuce, all tossed in a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. It wasn’t enough to make us swear off meat forever, but we were surprised to find such a nice balance of texture and flavor—another winning item from the truck.

Perhaps our favorite dish from these folks so far has been their “loaded brat.” It’s certainly not the prettiest thing to look at, but it gets the job done. They take a toasted white roll and lay within it a perfectly cooked brat with a soft, tender inside and snappy outer casing. This comes “loaded” with sautéed onions and mushrooms, tangy and crunchy sauerkraut, red bell peppers, and is sauced with mustard and barbecue sauce. It’s a wonderful and (again) generously portioned dish—one we’re happy to order again on our next visit.

Southern Salt is doing a fine job for being such a young truck. They’re producing an imaginative and well-executed menu and it’s clear that these are folks experienced in the kitchen. They keep the menu small, but expect a rotating selection of unique dishes—they’re definitely making a name for themselves among our already strong fleet of food trucks.

Follow Southern Salt on Facebook or Twitter to find where they are serving for the day.

click to enlarge Loaded Brat
  • Loaded Brat

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