After a week of subsisting on pastries and pate, I was yearning for some of the delicious Thai food I had grown so accustomed to eating in Los Angeles. When I stumbled across Tooq Tooq, a food truck claiming to serve the best Pad Thai in Paris, I knew I was on to something.
May, the head chef and co-owner, makes the noodles herself, and they are perfectly soft with just the right amount of chewiness. These were clearly the work of an expert. I later learned that May honed her cooking skills in Phuket, Thailand, while working as a chef at Thip Samay, a restaurant famous for its Pad Thai. After the tsunami hit Phuket in 2004, May and her husband, Enzo, decided to move back to Enzo’s hometown of Paris. May was offered a position in the kitchen of several Thai restaurants, but she and Enzo decided to start their own business. When Enzo saw the success of food trucks in Paris selling hamburgers, he figured Thai would be a perfect fit since it’s the mother of street food. Enzo and May opened Tooq Tooq in January 2014, and have used fresh vegetables and meat from local farms since the day they hit the streets.
Once I sampled the specialty of the house, I figured the green curry would be the perfect second course. As soon as it was ready, the first thing I noticed was the large serving of food I received. In a city known for its small portions, this truck definitely breaks the mold. Tooq Tooq’s green curry hits all the right notes of creamy and savory, but it’s slightly spicier than a typical curry, and it includes pea aubergines (ma-kheua puang) which give the dish a satisfying hint of bitterness. For dessert, I had green tea pudding made out of banana cream. It was an interesting cross between mochi balls and tapioca pudding.
Not only are Enzo and May serving top-notch cuisine, they’re also helping to pioneer the food truck movement in Paris. Since Parisians, like Angelenos and New Yorkers, want delicious food served quickly and conveniently, there is enormous potential for food trucks in the French capital. Though the potential is apparent, Enzo has voiced concern about the rigid business administration of France, which has blocked the possibility of more food trucks without taking the time to understand the opportunity they present.
To help jumpstart mobile cuisine in the city, Enzo and May founded Artisan Ambulant, a collective composed of seven trucks that promotes high-quality, homemade food as well as cooperation between its members. Since flavor is the ultimate test of quality, Tooq Tooq leads the charge to transform Parisian food culture one Pad Thai at a time. Even though a Thai food truck may represent a shift in thinking for some, for me, it was the perfect taste of home.
-Traveling Guest Contributor, David Martin Cohen