Superheroes come in many forms. Some wear capes, some battle bad guys, and some take on the plague of, well, bad salads.
That’s where Mike Ham comes in. He moved to Seattle eight years ago and immediately noticed we have a real problem: Our salad game is seriously lackluster in the Emerald City.
“I just felt like there were no good salads,” Ham told me. “Which was pretty shocking actually. You’d think there’d be much better options with the healthy and active lifestyle people have here.”
Ham doesn’t have any formal culinary training, but he decided to take on the challenge of creating fresh, tasty, healthy salads for the citizens of our fine city. And, boy, did he succeed.
I visited Ham’s food truck, Lula Salads, on one of those rare sunny days in January where the sun is out and so is basically everyone in the city. Parked in South Lake Union, the truck had a line full of the usual tech crowd competing for the best lunch. The menu is simple: 6-8 chopped salads with the option of adding a protein. Everything is ten bucks or less.
I ordered the Ensalada (greens, avocado, tomato, black bean, jalapeno, pickled red onion. queso fresco, cilantro, tortilla chips, lime juice, mojo rojo) with steak and the Winter Harvest (kale, wild and brown rice, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted parsnips, radish, bacon, dried cranberry, lemon juice, red wine vinaigrette) with chicken. I didn’t NEED two salads, but I just had to try more than one.
They were perfect.
So what makes a perfect salad? For me it’s the same as what makes a great Asian meal: The perfect balance of umami, salty, spicy and sweet.
“The key to a good salad is all about balance,” said Ham, agreeing with my assessment. “A great dressing should complement the salad, it shouldn’t be the star. For example, if you have a more bitter or acidic salad, you need a sweet dressing. And vice versa. We really try for that.”
And he achieves it. You get a little bit of balance in each bite of salad at Lula Salads. You’re not left digging around for “the good stuff.” And there’s just enough dressing to be flavorful, but not soggy. It’s truly a lunch delight.
“I’m very happy with the product,” Ham told me. “We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback. And the food truck scene has been very welcoming.”
So what’s Ham’s next goal?
“Oh, I’d love to get the word out more and one day have a brick and mortar store,” he said. “I really think healthy foods are going to get bigger and bigger in the next few years. Vegetables will be more of the star and I’d like to help make that kind of food more accessible to the general public.”
- Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: SLU, Terry & Thomas
- Tuesday, Friday: Downtown, 2nd, between Marion & Columbia