Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chez Yasmine

Because food trucks are such a large part of Philly’s food culture, it’s always exciting when a new one pops up. Chez Yasmine isn’t so new anymore, but it is certainly one of the newer ones, having only been around for a few months. And it’s on Penn campus, which is even more exciting because it is so accessible to students. So when I received an email about it from the Penn Gastronomy Club, I searched the food truck online, looked over the menu, and finally decided to check it out.

The owner, Jihed Chehimi, was extremely friendly. He welcomed me to the truck with a warm smile, while continuing his conversation with the three people ahead of me in line and putting together a sandwich. He chatted with regulars as if they were old school friends, knowing what they wanted and addressing them by name. He also explained to newcomers the inspiration behind his truck; both the names and the ingredients of each dish represent the places he has lived, worked, studied, and traveled— like Tunisia, France, and Philadelphia. After he finished preparing each customer’s order, he told them to pick a fruit and a mini water bottle to make their sandwich or salad a meal for no extra charge. He then took a picture of his new customers. I honestly found the photo a little strange, but he said he wanted it for a keepsake.

Unfortunately, the food wasn’t as outstanding as the service. I ordered the Wistar: Brie, sautéed mushrooms, avocado, basil/walnut pesto, and herbes de Provence on a baguette. When I got it, I thought it would be warm, like a French twist on a grilled cheese sandwich. But it wasn’t. So the brie was cold, not soft and melted. It was tasty, as well as smooth and creamy. But the rind was left on, which gave it a very pungent flavor. Although the rind is edible, I personally think it overpowers the flavor of the actual cheese, especially brie because it has a mild flavor. However, the mushrooms were seasoned well and the texture was agreeable because they were cooked. But again, I think that they would have been better warm, especially because they weren’t raw. The avocado would have provided a nice cool contrast to the warm, melted brie and mushrooms. However, since the cheese and mushrooms were as cold as the avocado, there was no variation in temperature. Also, the avocado was not evenly distributed, but randomly placed throughout the sandwich, providing either a mouthful of smashed avocado or a mouthful completely void of the ingredient. Finally, the baguette had a nice crunch on the outside, but the inside was a little tough instead of soft and tender. To fix this, I think the bread should have been toasted. On the other hand, the pesto sauce was tasty. It had a bold garlic flavor and was distributed evenly and generously. But the herbes de Provence shaken on top of the pesto sauce were overwhelming. There were too many, providing a grainy texture on your tongue, and tasted heavy on the thyme. Overall, I think that the Wistar is the right blend of ingredients, sans the herbes de Provence, but would only make me come try it again if the mushrooms were warm, the brie melted, and the baguette toasted.

At Chez Yasmine, the food truck experience was much better than the food itself. I would go back only because I would like to support Mr. Chehimi since he seems so good-hearted. You can tell that he really puts his heart and soul into his enterprise. Perhaps something other than the Wistar would be more satisfying. After all, the dishes are very innovative, which I admire. For now though, it is really the owner that has left an impression on me, not so much the food.

1 comment:

  1. The Wistar should have been warm as described in the first Penn Appetit article-Take Five with Chez Yasmine- ("a sizzling pan of mushrooms"). I guess it was a horrible mistake.
    The Wistar is a French inspired sandwich,and cutting the rind of white "mold" will be the ultimate mistake, the ultimate sin for that kind of brie. In fact cutting the rind will never happen in France, never. But we are in Philly. One rule is to eat both the rid and the soft part together, that way you will feel the contrast in texture as well as in taste. The rid by itself might be a little bitter.
    To eat or not to eat the rid? Personal preference



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