Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sam's ChowderMobile - Fried Calamari

Part of the draw of Sam's Chowder House is its location in Half Moon Bay. It sits right on the waterfront, and on a sunny day or during a warm sunset, there is nothing like sitting on the deck and eating food while enjoying the breeze and sound of the Pacific Ocean. But in addition to the beautiful locale Sam's also offers up some tasty seafood fare, reminiscent of some of my favorite restaurants back in New England. Their most notable offering is the famous Lobster Roll, which has won numerous awards. And while that is worth trying, it shouldn't overshadow their other dishes, which are also tasty enough to stand on their own.

For those folks who can't get down to Half Moon Bay, Sam's serves up selections off their menu from a fleet of roaming food trucks: Sam's ChowderMobile. From what I can tell they spend most weekdays in the South Bay, but the regular Sunday spot is outside of the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park. This past Sunday was sunny enough to head down to Music Concourse and get something from Sam's truck. I will admit it was hard not to choose the Lobster Roll, but my son kept requesting calamari over and over, so I chose the Fried Calamari, instead. It is made fresh on the truck, and by the time I was done eating my lunch they had already sold out of it.

The Fried Calamari is tossed in a flour and cornmeal coating and cooked until it is a nice golden brown. Like most calamari appetizers, the pieces are cut into small, flat rings, which keeps them tender and not chewy, and is served alongside the tentacles with a garnish of lemons. For $8.00 you get a huge portion, so it's a good choice if you're very hungry or sharing with a few friends alongside a couple cups of chowder. The calamari is served with two dipping sauces: a traditional cocktail sauce and a tartar sauce.

I thought the calamari was great—it wasn't greasy, and the batter retained a nice crunch without overpowering the fish. It was fried the right amount of time so that the fish practically melted in my mouth. My son enjoyed it, too. Calamari might just be his favorite food, so I take his opinion in fairly high consideration. I liked the cocktail sauce, which was on the sweet side and not too tangy, but the tartar was a big miss. It was way too heavy on the mayonnaise without enough of the relish, so it didn't work for its intended purpose. As a flavored mayonnaise it might have been fine, but I was looking for a tartar sauce. But it really didn't matter, as the calamari was tasty enough to enjoy sans dressing.

Rating: 3.5/5 (ratings guide)

Sam's ChowderMobile (@chowdermobile) $8.00 for a large container

Does reading this make you want to try this vendor? Tell them that you saw them at I Left My Cart in San Francisco and support San Francisco street cuisine!

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