The food truck Soomsoom Pita Pockets visited the Duke University Student Dining and Advisory Committee Thursday evening.

Offering an Israeli-style menu, Soomsoom is the third food truck to visit DUSDAC this semester in hopes of being added to the food truck rotation for the upcoming school year. Since its creation around six years ago, Soomsoom has offered a variety of options including pita sandwiches and a number of sides. The food received positive reviews from the majority of the committee members present.

"There's Mediterranean food, but nobody actually puts it in a pita pocket," said Oren Wais, chef and owner of Soomsoom.

Wais explained that the food truck's name is a reference to the Hebrew word for "sesame seed." This was relevant when he created the food truck because his wife was pregnant, and the baby was the size of a sesame seed at the time.

Jimmy Keegan, general manager of Soomsoom, explained that the menu is not set in stone and that they often "switch it up" depending on the season and product availability. He added that there are typically four to six pita sandwich options on the menu, with about half of those including meat such as chicken, lamb or beef. Vegetarian options—which can be made vegan upon request—include cauliflower and potatoes in addition to eggplant, he added.

Wais added that sides include fresh vegetables, eggplant, hummus, slaw, baba ganoush and beets. 

The typical menu pricing is around $10-$13 for a full pita sandwich and $5 for one of the sides. He also emphasized Soomsoom's commitment to making the food—aside from the pita pockets, which are purchased from Angel Bakeries in Israel—from scratch.

"We're making all the food from scratch—the chickpeas, they're from dried chickpeas," Wais said. "We don't open any can."

In addition, all of the food besides the pita is gluten-free, he noted, but there is the option to purchase either standard or gluten-free pita.

DUSDAC co-chair Julia Medine, a senior, praised the food truck as serving "high quality" food, a sentiment with which many of the other committee members agreed.

Committee member Allie Rauch, a sophomore, mentioned that the price of a half-pita sandwich was half the price of a full sandwich. Because vendors do not often charge exactly half the price for half of an item, Rauch thought that this was a positive aspect of the pricing. She also lauded Soomsoom for allowing customers to make substitutions on menu items without a surcharge.

The committee also discussed the prevalence of Mediterranean vendors affiliated with Duke, yet multiple members pointed out that most of the current affiliates offer Greek Mediterranean fares, not the Israeli menu that Soomsoom boasts.

In other business

Robert Coffey, director of dining services, announced the addition of a new Latinx restaurant to the Brodhead Center in Fall 2018. The team that is designing the new restaurant will be visiting DUSDAC in the upcoming weeks to provide a concept as to what the renovated space will look like.

Although Duke Dining has developed a list of possible names, he added that the committee will need to reach out to the student body to discuss how to gather input on a potential name for the new restaurant.

With Red Mango moving to Wilson Gym and replacing Quenchers in the Fall, a decision has not been reached about Red Mango's replacement in the Bryan Center, Coffey said.

A Latinx food truck will also be visiting DUSDAC after spring break to give the committee a chance to taste their offerings.