Food & Drink

Review: Hale Yeah Kitchen has surf & turf food truck fare that’s unexpectedly elegant

Find a New England-stye lobster roll among other offerings on the Hale Yeah Kitchen food truck

Hale Yeah Kitchen food truck's owner/chef Patrick Hale speaks about his New England-style menu.
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Hale Yeah Kitchen food truck's owner/chef Patrick Hale speaks about his New England-style menu.

In the past four years, I’ve sampled the wares of more than 50 food trucks. I’ve nibbled, gnawed and slurped my way across the colorful and ever-changing gastronomic landscape, from barbecue to beignets, from Chinese dumplings to Lithuanian chicken pastry, from Venezuelan arepas to Israeli shakshuka.

I’ve tasted a rainbow of flavors, textures and styles: sweet, savory, spicy, creamy, crispy, chewy and comforting, just to name a few.

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Hale Yeah Kitchen’s pan-seared scallops are served three to an order over Asian slaw. Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

But I can think of only one dish I’ve ever gotten from a food truck that I’d describe as elegant: pan-seared scallops at Hale Yeah Kitchen. Mind you, I’m not talking about the presentation. The scallops are served over Asian slaw in a foil-lined paper tray. This is a food truck, after all.

But you could close your eyes after biting into one of these scallops, and easily imagine that you’re sitting in a fine dining restaurant. I mean, these beauties are huge (U-8 to U-10, for you shellfish aficionados), and they’re cooked precisely to the point where the innermost part of their briny-sweet flesh turns opaque beneath a textbook sear. Served three to an order, they’re pricey by food truck standards ($16), but a bargain compared to restaurant prices.

You’ll also get your money’s worth if you spring for the $15 New England lobster roll. The lobster — mostly sizable lumps, lightly dressed in mayo — is so generous that it spills out of the traditional grilled-to-order split-top bun when you pick it up.

If you’re so inclined, you can opt instead for a warm lobster roll — an offering that will come as no surprise when you learn that owner/chef Patrick Hale grew up in Connecticut, where the warm version is favored.

Hale started the truck a year ago with his wife, Cheryl, who works at Research Triangle Park by day and is the friendly order taker in the truck’s window in the evening.

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Hale Yeah Kitchen sells both the New England lobster roll and a warm lobster roll an offering that will come as no surprise when you learn that owner/chef Patrick Hale grew up in Connecticut, where the warm version is favored. Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

Scallops and lobster rolls are just a couple of options on a menu that Cheryl Hale aptly describes as “surf and turf.” You’ll typically see a handful of sandwiches (fried flounder, grilled chicken, 7-ounce rib-eye) and a hodgepodge of other nibbles (corn dog, pork egg rolls, and a very good cucumber salad with feta cheese) listed on the whiteboard by the window.

Missing from the menu when I was there was a cheesecake that I’d heard rave reviews about. Now that I know that it’s made from Patrick Hale’s grandmother’s recipe (he describes it as “an old English recipe, lighter than New York-style”), I’m more eager than ever to pay a return visit to Hale Yeah Kitchen. Maybe next time I’ll venture into the “turf” side of the menu.

Who am I kidding? There’s no way I’ll be able to resist an encore performance of those scallops. Or maybe the lobster roll. Okay, both.

Hale Yeah Kitchen

Prices: sandwiches $8-$10, lobster roll $15, scallops $16

Social media: facebook.com/haleyeahkitchenllc and twitter.com/haleyeahkitchen

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