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First Impressions: Asian Persuasion Food Truck and Companion Bagel

Asian Persuasion offers Filipino and Thai dishes from their food truck
Asian Persuasion: I grew up as a kid with Filipino cuisine as a staple, and I never really had to search too hard or long for it back in the San Francisco Bay Area. Central Ohio has been a whole other story, however, with options few and far between (the Mya's Fried Chicken food truck special Filipino nights and Red Velvet Cafe's Filipino fusion sandwiches being notable exceptions.) So it was only natural to feel excited when I heard a new food truck featuring Filipino staples was launching in the area in the form of Asian Persuasion.

Cleared to launch operations last month, the truck initially put in a few stops in Dayton, but has now set up regularly in the Columbus area the past couple weeks. One of those locations happened to be at the festivities leading up to an event we were attending (the Cleveland Browns Orange-Brown Scrimmage at The Shoe on The Ohio State University campus last Friday.) Obviously, we were both quite happy to see them and couldn't help but stop by to sample their wares.

On this day, Asian Persuasion featured some Thai dishes such as Thai Beef Jerky and a Papaya Salad; however, we were here to test out the Filipino items, which were represented by a select number of basic staples such as Lumpia (egg rolls), Pancit Bihon (the Filipino version of chow mein), and Lechon (spit-roasted pork). While Lechon was also available in an additional "Americano" sandwich form, we went with the more traditional three dishes.

From top left: Asian Persuasion's mascot Lil' Baboy stands guard; chunks
of spit-roasted Lechon, fried Lumpia rolls, Pancit Bihon
For the most part, I'd say these are all well-done and tasty versions of the dishes I grew up with. The Pancit had a nice lightly garlicky flavor and sported a additional vegetables (in the form of chopped bell peppers) along with what I usually expect in the dish such as cabbage, carrots and scallions. The Lumpia was fried up crisp and to the edge of being burnt (the way I prefer it) and sported a very uniquely fine, almost puréed texture with its meat-filling. Meanwhile, the Lechon was for the most part moist and fatty, just like it should be (kinda' wished there was a sarsa dipping sauce to go with it, but the pork by itself was perfectly fine.)

Service was just a touch slow, which seemed to be due to a combo of factors including many diners asking questions about the dishes, the sheer number of diners itself, and a backup of orders for those who went with Pancit (out of the three dishes I had, this one takes the most time to whip up a new batch.)  Also, I imagine that just sheer experience should help the Asian Persuasion crew process their food much more quickly and efficiently in the upcoming months.

Asian Persuasion can be found stationed at various locations and events around the Columbus metro; please consult their Facebook page for the latest updates.

Asian Persuasion Food Truck
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Companion Bagel is quite happy to be a small local vendor
at the Clintonville Farmers Market

Companion Bagel:  Even in the limited sphere of bagel providers in the Columbus area, bagel bakers can find it tough to break into the local scene, with the presence of local stalwarts like Sammy's and Block's (Toledo-based Barry Bagels has also recently entered the market), and their bigger chain competitors such as Einstein Bros, Panera and  Breugger's. Perhaps Jake and Jess Hollår, brother/sister founders of Companion Bagel, have the right idea by going in something of the opposite direction: stay small, think big (as in a Bagel CSA(!)), and lure the public in with baked goods featuring uniquely novel flavor conversations.

Based on a brief chat with Jake at their stand at the Clintonville Farmers Market, Companion is definitely a labor of love: not many people are willingly rising at 2 AM in the morning to get their baking process going. Jake himself has been involved in numerous other past food-focused efforts, including stints with The Cheesy Truck and Alana's as well as the Gourmet Picnic, a Columbus-area monthly supper club.

Flavor profiles in Companion's Bagels products, from bialy to bagels
to beyond, are both unique and focus on area ingredient providers
The bagels we sampled from Companion may not satisfy the bagel purists from a texture standpoint - they're a bit bready though negligibly so when compared to a similar offering from Einstein Bros. However, those who are seeking unique flavor profiles will be more than satisfied with their creations. From their Serrano and Date combo, to their changing seasonal variety (in our case, it was a Trumpet mushroom baked with Blue Jacket Dairy's wonderful Gretna Cheese) to our favorite of the first three we brought home (the wonderful olive-y Castelvetrano and Cracked Pepper, featuring North Market Spices port-brined smoked peppercorns), we were more than happy to make these typically breakfast-oriented items our dinner for one night.

While the plan is for Companion Bagel to stay small and sustainable, Jake mentioned that growth may be in the works in the form of their Bagel Chips, which he's hoping to have available in a couple of Clintonville-area markets in the near future.

Companion Bagel
Regularly found at the Clintonville and Jefferson Township Farmers Markets
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  1. Have you tried Izzy and Mo's yet?

  2. Bethia - yes we have; their offerings are pretty delicious in their own right. Wish we lived closer