Boungu Kenken's Parking Lot Oasis
The low edibility level of things normally found in and around a Shell station, where Boungu Kenken was parked the day I visited, made the sight of the candy-colored Haitian food truck all the more delightful. (The truck can usually be found at the Shell at 9796 Holman Road.) Owner Mackenson Noel invited me into his mobile kitchen, which was cozy with the rain pattering on its metal roof. The truck filled with the smell of bananas when he cut up fresh plantain, but once they were fried, the dense golden slices had only a hint of sweetness. He used a homemade tool that looked like a hinged cheese board to squeeze the fried plantain into crispy medallions. They were excellent dipped in legume, a buttery, slightly spicy blend of sautéed eggplant and onions.
Mackenson grew up in Haiti, then moved to Seattle and began cooking at Waid's, a Haitian restaurant and dance club in the CD. "Kenken" was Mackenson's nickname in school, and "Boungu," he says, means "Good, happiness. If it tastes good, then you feel good." Haitian food is scarce in Seattle, and Boungu Kenken is certainly its only Haitian food truck. This apparently causes confusion. Someone walked up to the truck and asked Mackenson for $10. "One customer asked me to cook him some Asian food," he said. But as long as you're not looking for cash or pad thai, Boungu Kenken will not disappoint.