Dining With Denise Neil

LoLo’s Crepes bring the sweet, savory flavors of France (and Japan) to Wichita

The bacon lover’s crepe from LoLo’s Crepes.
The bacon lover’s crepe from LoLo’s Crepes. The Wichita Eagle

Smart food truck operators look for a type of cuisine Wichita is missing and deliver it – on wheels.

Manu and Austin English do it with their Let’m Eat Brats, which serves the German food Wichitans crave but can’t easily find. Kind Kravings’ Rochelle Collins does it with the clean, vegan cuisine she serves from her truck.

Now, Matthew Lo is giving Wichita a creperie. Though several Wichita restaurants have crepes on their menus, none makes it their specialty, and choices are limited.

Lo, who opened his LoLo’s Crepes food truck in early June, is serving crepes – those delicate French pancakes loved by diners around the world – stuffed with both sweet and savory fillings. His bright-red truck is hard to miss, emblazoned with an image of a golden Eiffel Tower near the window. The crepes aren’t purely French, though. He also serves cone-shaped crepes made popular by food trucks in Japan.

His business is interesting so far, he said, because he relies on return customers. Where food trucks serving tacos and burgers and sandwiches get business from people just strolling by, Lo’s business come from people who love crepes, hear he has them, search him out, then become followers. The average Wichitan, he’s noticed, is a little unsure exactly what a crepe is – especially a savory crepe.

Those Wichitans should take a chance, and they will be rewarded with a unique, European treat that will turn them into LoLo’s followers, too. Lo’s crepes are designed to be eaten on-the-go, so they’re hand-held. That approach comes with challenges, but the flavor and texture is worth overcoming them.

▪ ON THE MENU: LoLo’s savory and sweet crepe options are listed on a chalkboard menu each day. The day we visited, he had four of each. On the savory menu were an Angus roast beef crepe, a bacon lover’s crepe, a Black Forest ham crepe and a vegetarian crepe. The sweet options include the Sweet LoLo, filled with ice cream and Nutella, then topped with strawberries, bananas and whipped cream; a S’mores crepe; a chocolate lover’s crepe; and a Nutella lover’s crepe.

▪ DON’T-MISS DISHES: On a recent weekday visit to the ICT Pop-Up Urban Park at 121 E. Douglas, where LoLo’s is frequently parked, we tried six of the eight listed crepes, then forced ourselves to walk back to work to try to burn them off.

Crepes have an egg flavor, but they don’t really taste like pancakes. They’re sweeter, more pliable, and their sponginess soaks up the goodness stuffed inside.

Of the savory crepes, we tried the roast beef, bacon lover’s and Black Forest ham, all of which were dressed with cheese, lettuce, onion and tomato, folded into a triangular shape with the opening at the top, then wrapped along the bottom in foil for ease of holding. They’re served on a paper plate.

All three were good, though my favorite was the Black Forest ham, just because it seemed like the right filling for a crepe. The pancake itself was just the right thickness and had a nice spongy texture, which complimented its ooey-gooey fillings. The edges of the crepe also formed a dreamy crunch from the melted cheese oozing out onto the hot crepe grill.

A few fixes could have made the experience even better. Although I liked the lettuce in my crepe, the heat of the concoction wilted it and turned it a bit slimy. It was still good fresh from the grill to our picnic table just outside the truck, but if you take it any farther, it’s going to get pretty unappetizing.

Also, the crepe was so hot, holding the foil wrapper to eat it wasn’t an immediate option. My hand started to burn just holding it for a picture. I wanted to share each of the crepes with my two lunch pals, but the truck provides only plastic forks and spoons, so we couldn’t cut the crepes, either. We solved the problem by savagely tearing them apart with our hands and forks. Fortunately, we’re all friends. (I mentioned this problem to the owner, who agreed that adding plastic knives would be a good idea.)

Two of the sweet crepes were easier to handle. The LoLo’s special is a Japanese-style, cone-shaped crepe whose texture is more crunchy than spongy. It was stuffed with vanilla ice cream and Nutella, then topped with a ring of bananas and strawberries, with a poof of whipped cream in the center. That one was easier to share with a spoon and could have been eaten ice cream-cone-style by an individual. But a crepe is so much more satisfying than an ice cream cone.

We also tried the S’mores crepe, which was served in the cone-shaped crepe and filled with marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, chocolate and graham cracker crumbles. It was a nice combination of flavors, and the light marshmallow fluff erupted out of the top with every bite.

My favorite was the chocolate-lover’s crepe, which was folded and topped with chocolate syrup. (We added bananas for an extra 50 cents.) It was served on a plate, so we tore into it with our forks, but it was a light, not overly sweet dessert.

Six crepes was a lot for three people, and for those seeking a meal, I’d recommend one savory crepe and a shared dessert crepe. Though the way we did it was much more fun.

▪ AMBIENCE: The bright-red truck is hard to miss, and its artful, French-inspired wrap is super slick. Diners can see Lo inside constructing the crepes on his large grill, which is right by the window. It’s an interesting process to watch.

▪ PRICE RANGE: Savory crepes range from $7 to $9 apiece. Sweet crepes are $4 to $7.

▪ SERVICE: The woman taking orders had a huge smile, a friendly demeanor and offered to wait to make our dessert crepes until she could see we were almost finished with our savory round so that they were still fresh and not too melted.

Ratings reflect the critic’s judgment of the food, service and atmosphere in relation to the price. If you would like to nominate a restaurant to be reviewed, call 316-268-6327.

Review

LoLo’s Crepes

stars out of four

Where: It’s a food truck that parks various places around town, most frequently at the ICT Pop-Up Urban Park at 121 E. Douglas and at the Wichita State University food truck plaza at 1845 Fairmount. Owner Matthew Lo takes the truck out frequently and posts a schedule on the truck’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LoLosCrepes.

This weekend, he’ll be at the Andover Farm and Art Market at Andover and Central from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, and at the Kansas Grown Farmers Market at 7001 W. 21st St. from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 3.

Type of food: Crepes, both sweet and savory

Alcohol: No

Credit cards: Accepted

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