Flaming cart, average kabob.
I can think of many an appropriate royal analogy to go along with this review, but truth be told, King Kabob is not really worth that much energy. King Kabob is not the ultimate king of the kabobs. It is more akin to an anemic distant relative of the supposed King, but I suppose on a campus with barely a kabob in sight, this truck just about satisfies the craving some of us have for a juiced–up skewer.
January was a dreary month, made slightly better by the punctuated return of that familiar yet pleasantly garish truck. Now, jaunts along 38th and Spruce streets bear more than the familiar post–apocalyptic sights of grey Wawa customers and even greyer water spewing from oft–burst pipes. This stretch of campus has gained a fiercely flaming truck, a razzmatazz vehicle doling out kabobs to hungry passers–by. However, it would seem that this truck is all razzle and no dazzle when it comes to its own fare.
The man who works within King Kabob’s confines was delightfully chatty, but almost put a damper on my appetite when he told me that until Feb. 14, the truck was only going to serve a very limited menu. Therefore, with only chicken fajita, teriyaki chicken or classic steak kabobs on offer, I chose the last, hoping it would achieve delectable perfection in its simple composition. Well, it did not. The classic steak kabob ($5) came on a skewer with onions and grilled bell peppers. I opted to have my kabob served on a bed of rice (for an additional $1) rather than wrapped in a pita. It was nice to be asked how I liked my meat cooked, for that is a definite rarity.
The kabob itself was tasty, although slightly chewy for a medium–cooked piece of meat. However, there was a definitive lack of seasoning. The King Kabob special sauce is only applied to the dish as an afterthought, so the potential of the sauce penetrating the meat and bathing it in a bold flavor was a missed opportunity. Rather, the special sauce — which, by the way, is KK’s flamboyant naming of a basic BBQ sauce — overpowered the meat and rice. Although I finished my kabob, I found myself looking for the remnants of sauce to add any semblance of flavor to the dish, finding the leftover rice to be bland in taste. The teriyaki chicken wrapped in pita ($5.50) had somewhat of a stronger flavor, although it wasn’t overwhelmingly better.
King Kabob emphasizes the freshness of its fare, easy to do when you get the kabobs assembled and the accoutrements prepared off–site and delivered daily by a catering company. Some of the regal mysticism is maintained when you see the kabobs cooked in front of your very eyes, but that wears when you’re faced with a slightly longer wait than you had previously anticipated.
Sure, the kabobs were fine, and the rice they were served on was fine, and the pita was fine and the prospect of a peach kabob ($3 but not on offer till the 14th) was fine, but nothing wowed me. Perhaps it was due to the freezing weather on the day I sauntered over to the truck. Or perhaps my disappointment stemmed from the ridiculously high kabob standards I set, a vestige of my Middle Eastern roots. However, I am sad to say that king of the kabobs King Kabob was not. But I will concede that it can definitely hold its ground as a viable alternative to the breakfast sandwich trucks littering the block and provide a satisfactory meal for those in need of something mildly different.
38th and Spruce St.
Don’t Miss: Chatting with the dude who works there. He’s got a great tattoo of the Philly skyline…
Skip: The classic steak kabob