Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Lovash Nosh

As food connoisseurs, we’ve painted an idea in our heads of the fundamental nature and purpose of food. It is more than just a means of sustenance; it is a form of recreation, pleasuring us with endless possibilities of tastes and textures. But as the carefree days of summer end and the stress of exams, papers, and internships mounts, this idealistic view of food begins to fade, giving way to a bleaker prospect: we must pepper our hectic day with some form of nourishment that will keep us going. Unfortunately, taste and texture give way to convenience and price, as we try to sustain ourselves as quickly and cheaply as possible. At Penn, such a task is made easy by the abundance of food trucks on the streets of our campus, cheap, often ethnic, in-and-out venues for food in a rush. But what if we could get the best of both worlds? What if students didn’t have to sacrifice a quality meal in order to get cheap, quick food? With the opening of Lovash Indian Cuisine Food Truck on 37th and Spruce Streets, this prospect, for me, suddenly seemed attainable.

I visited Lovash’s in a situation like the one described above: swamped with impending project deadlines and mounting reading assignments. On the way home from class I picked up the special of the day advertised colorfully on a whiteboard just outside the truck, the mattar paneer--a traditional Indian dish of fried, curdled cheese with peas in a sweet, spicy sauce. Lovash’s version seemed consistent in its preparation from the other versions of the dish I had enjoyed before. Aiming for maximum nourishment to get me to the end of my jam-packed schedule, I opted for their "platter" size, a dollar more than their regular size, featuring as accompaniments a generous serving of soft, buttery roti bread and a heaping of basmati rice. I handed the smiling and efficient truck-tender a five, grabbed my food and headed on my way, preparing for a brief stint at my dining room table with the food before tending to my academic duties. I was greeted by a more than adequate serving of food in a characteristic white take out container. Each compartment was filled the brim as I began my journey into the latest version of one of my favorite Indian dishes. So, how did this rendition stand up?

The mattar paneer was nothing special: only mildy flavored, crumbly cheese cubes soaked in an overpowering tomato sauce that brought upon, no matter how hard I tried to resist them, after-school childhood memories of Chef Boyardee SpaghettiOs. Gone was the rich, creamy, succulent texture of the paneer I fell in love with. It was replaced with a weirdly tangy taste that dominated anything provided by the mushy peas and insignificant cheese cubes. The yellow-tinged basmati rice seemed even more irrelevant, proving its role as a simple filler in order to provide a justification for the dish’s "platter" status. Not fully cooked and slightly hardened, the grainy bits that remained in my teeth certainly didn’t help alleviates the qualms I had about my main dish of paneer. The one saving grace (maybe too generous of a term) of my meal was the three slices of roti nestled in the upper-left compartment. Although indistinguishable from the flour tortilla used in at least three other food trucks on Spruce, it had the perfect balance of softness and crispiness; lightly buttered, it was a great vehicle for soaking up the now homogenous cheese-and-pea slop that the paneer had degraded into. A solid roti does not a quality Indian dish make, though, and after the my white take-out dish was reduced to a smattering of oily sauce, I was full, but certainly not satisfied.

All in all, my expectations of a quick, cheap, delicious Indian meal were not provided by Lovash, much to my disappointment. However, I haven’t given up on this newcomer to Spruce Street, and would love my opinion to be reversed with my next outing to the truck, which is sure to be during the next week as I explore other options on their menu. The truck is also an extension of the actual Lovash restaurant on South street, where I plan to visit to give the eatery another chance at delighting my very picky taste buds. My experience at the truck, however, didn’t exactly make me want to catch the next rickshaw down there. The final verdict? Try these so-called gurus out, but don’t expect nirvana.

1 comment:

  1. My experience has been very unlike yours. I have never eaten at the truck though I visit their restaurant very often. I think it is the best Indian food around town. They have the widest and the best variety of breads. All their dishes are freshly prepared. Its my favorite indian restaurant.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...