Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Taco Crawl (Part 3) Tacofino Commissary

The next stop on our taco crawl adventure took us east, to Hastings and Nanaimo to

Tacofino Commissary for:

Cauliflower; Serrano chile, turmeric, crispy rice, spicy fish sauce $7

Chicken Karaage Taco; Avocado, radish, black chile oil, cilantro $6 per taco

Tacofino Commissary on Urbanspoon

The Food Crawl basics:
Four participants. Each participant picks a taco joint OR a specific taco dish they've been wanting to try. I drive the taco wagon (aka my Honda Fit) and come up with logistics, scheduling, route that makes sense. At each stop, we either have done our research and picked a taco OR ask our server for their most popular taco/ their recommendation. One taco per crawler per venue.
Let the adventure continue!


I’ve eaten from the Tacofino trucks before and LOVE their food and the commissary is in my ‘hood so when____ picked this place, I was very pleased.

This spot is on Hastings near Nanaimo with Red Wagon and Campagnolo Roma as neighbours and has some truly cool d├ęcor details, especially massive hanging light installation network. There are a few tables for two but most table are long, large, and meant for sharing. Old school hip hop was pumping and right away we were charmed by the uber friendly staff AND uber friendly other customers who were quick to tell us about their favourite dishes. I had my heart set out hoping that ____ would order up a round of Tuna Ta-tacos but instead he followed the recommendation of our server and neighbouring table and opted for the Chicken Karaage.

He also heard the cauliflower was dynamite, so he added an order of that appetizer for us all to try. This cauliflower is my kind of dish! I adore Nuba’s crispy cauliflower and didn’t think it could be as good but it definitely is just as delicious and different. Despite a tough looking Serrano, it wasn’t very spicy but it was certainly big on bold salty flavour from the generous amount of fish sauce.

On to the taco…. Each taco is $6 which is steep, but they are a larger taco than the other establishments and they do have a lot going on inside. Tacofino serves their some of their tacos on corn tortillas and some on flour tortillas depending on what they think is the best flavour accompaniment for the taco filling. The CK taco came in a flour tortilla. This was a fantastic taco! The chicken was beautifully cooked, tender and soft with a feather light crispy exterior and a slight spice and a hint of ginger. With avocado, radish, chile oil, and cilantro- there is a lot going on in this taco and it all works really well with flavours and texture that make beautiful Japanese meets Baja-california inspired music in my mouth.

The Leggy Redhead:

The whole experience here was great...server - super sweet & helpful; couple at the table next to us - helped us chose our final taco choice based on their favorites; the taco - who knew Japanese inspired taco would win my heart for the evening.  Lightest karage breading, perfectly cooked, and then paired with a fabulous avocado spread & black chile oil paste...need I say more.  And of course we had to have the roasted cauliflower appy while we were there (highlight from the last time I ate at the Commissary).


Located in the Hastings Sunrise area – the first permanent location for the legendary fish taco food truck hailing from the namesake BC surf town.  Love how the real estate developers are trying to brand this neighbourhood East Village – more like Crow Village according to some friends living in the ‘hood.  Upon entry one’s bound to notice the groovy tunes and splendid lighting – a web of faux Omer Arbel globes connected by copper tubing.  Table layout is mainly a series of communal tables making for good chatting with your neighbours.

Tacofino has quite the creative menu – including 3 vegetarian options.  We embraced the unusual and ordered Habanero Margaritas (served in salt rimmed mason jars) and four chicken kaarage tacos.  Served on a single flour tortilla (points deducted for no double stack), the tacos were filled with multiple tasty toppings:  Pea shoots, radishes, guacamole and chopped green onions.  An artistic smear of black chili oil added to the visual sensation – although I didn’t pick up much flavour.  I found the chicken juicy and tender covered in a light kaarage batter which wasn’t overly spiced.  Much better than the average karaage fare on offer at local Japanese restaurants. 
One note of caution – the taco was big.  Substantially larger than those at our other stops– which at least corresponded to the hefty price tag.  If you normally eat three or four tacos for a meal – I’d only order two of these. 

The service was friendly and engaging – as were the neighbours sitting next to us.  We ordered a side of the fried cauliflower with chilis and other goodies ($9) which I heartedly endorse.  One knock is that the management seems to take issue with the Beastie Boys – they interrupted them in funky mid-track!  Why the hate for the Beasties, Tacofino?  Overall, my second favorite taco of the night.

The Glib:

A sit down version of the legendary taco food truck Tacofino, the Commissary was my pick. Located in the heart of Hastings Sunrise, this eatery boasted an atmosphere unrivalled in the nights tour. From our table neighbours and their friendly, food recommending ways to a delightful service staff that went out of their way to ensure we had a great time, this place is all about community. 

I choose the Chicken Karaage taco. Outside of the box, yes. Outside of delicious, absolutely not. If this were a Chicken Karaage tour, I would likely be declaring this the winner of the tour, based on the Karaage alone. Grease, none. Chicken, tender, so deliciously tender. Flavour, wow. Peashoots, perfect crunchy leafy balance. Painted on sauce of sesame amazingness. Yes please. Size, large. And thankfully so, as this much deliciousness should go on and on.

It was with a full belly and a happy heart that I left the Commissary, and I will be back.

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