By Kathy Chouteau
The Mashallah Halal Food Indian and Pakistani Food Truck recently rolled onto the streets and if its flavorfully spicy Indian and Pakistani dishes are any indication, it’s the hottest thing happening in the Richmond-El Cerrito mobile food scene right now.
The Rich Life recently stopped by the Mashallah food truck—usually parked on the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Cutting Boulevard in El Cerrito across the street from Jack-in-the-Box—to taste for ourselves what’s on the menu.
This reporter received a warm welcome from owners and husband-and-wide-team Mohammad and Rabia Waqar, who opened their food truck in September.
Launching a food truck business is the fulfillment of a longtime dream for Mohammad, who spent many years rubbing elbow grease at eateries like Weiner Schnitzel, Dominoes and Pizza Hut.
“Since I came to this country, I worked in the restaurant industry; I started liking and loving it, and then it became a passion,” said Mohammad.
Eventually, he opened up his own restaurant, Taj Mahal, in San Francisco, but the recession took its toll.
According to Mohammad, good fortune came his way in 2007 when he met his wife, Rabia. “She’s my lucky lady,” he said.
Time, patience and an eye on their end game eventually paid off for the Waqars when Rabia spotted a suitable food truck for sale. “This corner [San Pablo Ave. & Cutting Blvd.] was my goal,” said Mohammad of his preferred spot for their mobile business.
Both Waqars do the cooking for the Mashallah food truck, which features their own recipes from their home country of Pakistan using all fresh ingredients. “No prepacked masalas,” said Rabia of their food. “All fresh—fresh onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, chili and pepper…You can feel it [when you eat it]”.
Since opening, business has been good with lots of repeat customers, including Chevron Richmond, which often calls them to come onsite to help feed their workers during lunchtime breaks.
During this reporter’s visit, I ordered my family the Chicken Tikka Masala and also the Channa Masala dishes, both of which included rice and naan on the side; the Beef Chapli Kebab, which included a side salad; Samosas; and the Kheer (rice pudding). Mohammad also gave me a sample of his Lamb Korma to try and it was warm, hearty and delicious—an especially apropos choice for this time of year.
While the spices were quite prominent in each of the main dishes, the seasoning was by no means over-the-top. Everything tasted very fresh and flavorful and I highly recommended trying it for yourself.
While the Mashallah food truck typically can be found on the corner of San Pablo Ave. & Cutting Blvd. in El Cerrito for lunch starting at 11:30 a.m., occasionally it joins other food trucks via Off the Grid, Food Mafia and Taste of the World at other Bay Area locations.
The Waqars advise customers to check their Yelp page in advance, which they update with their location and hours regularly. However, the Mashallah food truck can always be found on its corner serving dinner from 3-8 p.m. Mon. through Sat. A small outdoor table is available onsite. The food truck is closed Sundays.
Catering and online ordering is available. Call 510-685-5254 or visit www.mashallah-halal-food.com for more info.