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Restaurant Review: Hisham’s Food Truck

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Hisham’s Food TruckAll photos by Taijuan Moorman.
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Hisham’s is a food truck with a story. Then again, it’s worth acknowledging that plenty of food trucks have good stories. It comes with the territory, as it takes a certain sort of character to decide it’s a good idea to drive around town in a big box and feed people.

That said, Hisham’s still feels a little special. It’s run by a husband-and-wife team who met while dancing at BalletMet. Dancers, like all artists, are interesting people, generally. There’s something from years of physical training that often distinguishes them from regular mortals: they move differently. This is sadly hard to assess through the window of the food truck, but not for lack of trying.

But, it’s not just the whole ballet angle. Hisham’s truck sells South African Food, because the husband (that’s Hisham) is from South Africa. Let’s put a finer point on that, it’s actually Cape Malay food. According to the internet, it’s an ethnic identity in South Africa with complex origins in Asia, Madagascar and East Africa.

So, the food is going to be a little different. Hisham’s offers a menu with items you don’t often find at other places in Columbus.

Case in point, let’s start with the Ground Beef, Potato and Pea curry (served with basmati rice for $8). Like most of the options on the menu, it has some heat. It’s not a boring hot-sauce kick, but rather something else, something with pepper and cumin that seethes in the background. It keeps the humble, stewed mixture of beef, potatoes, and peas intriguing.

There are other curries on the menu. There’s also a Chicken, Potato and Chickpea option ($8), providing that same intriguing combination of spicy heat and comfort textures.

Of course, the menu expands beyond the world of stewed things. You can add a salad to any order ($2), and you’ll get one with lots of crunch: iceberg, green onion, apple, avocado, cucumber in a creamy dressing that binds its divergent textures and flavors together.

There are Hand Pies too, rectangles of flaky pastry in flavors that include beef, chicken, and vegetables. The veggie one edged out the others as a favorite. Inside it is a soft mix of traditional stew-veggies such as green beans and carrots, with that now-familiar kick of cumin-spiced heat again ($5 each).

There is a house-sauce that teams well with both hand pies and curries. Yogurt based, it’s especially appropriate-feeling in these warm months ($1, but buy more than one).

Koeksister is the dessert option (3 for $5). It’s (yes) interesting too, fresh fried, with a little syrup that helps some vaguely sweet coconut stick to the top. The description warns you that it’s “not too sweet.” They tell you it’s not sweet, but it looks like it will be, so it’s easy to get the wrong idea. If you can get over the fact that a Koeksister is a fresh-fried, heavy bread that is truly not sweet, you’ll be okay. Think of it as an experiment for a sophisticated palate or a conversation piece.

Because, you know, Tim Horton’s and Krispy Kreme is everywhere, but you don’t get to try a Koeksister every day. You don’t just find Cape Malay food all over Columbus, or even Ohio. This little truck seems to have cornered the market on this niche. And you can find it by following its trail here.

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