Thursday, April 25, 2013

Where are the Ethnic Trucks? In Stockton!

In May of 2012 I posed the question, "Where are the Ethnic Food Trucks?". Almost a year later, I'm here to tell you they are in Stockton. 

Laab from Green Papaya

I still lament on a weekly basis the serious lack of ethnic diversity in the Sacramento food truck scene. We have an abundance of burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and tacos. But where are the Thai, crepes, piroshkis, Filipino, Caribbean, pasta, African, and other ethnically diverse foods? 




Food Truck Frenzy in Stockon
Thank goodness Om Karmabile rejoins the streets this week. Their beautiful newly wrapped truck will come out with more Indian fusion. And there is an Asian truck about two months out as well. (I know every detail but am not at liberty to share. Sorry.) Sometime this summer we will hopefully get to see the new Mikuni sushi truck and Rudy's Hideaway's seafood themed truck.  But for now, the ethnic trucks are a bit of a drive south to Stockton.

The following four trucks are the newest to hit Stockton and San Joaquin county streets. Let me introduce you to Green Papaya, Spicy Grill, The Mamas and the Tapas, and Wok n Roll



Green Papaya is actually a trailer, not a truck. This trailer is serving up Lao/Thai food that is freshly made to order. I talked to Mony Vangsoulatda, who said that she's trying to stay away from having things pre-cooked in bulk, even though it would speed up the order-to-serve time. It's a family affair where they had been part owners of a Thai restaurant in Stockton for some years. Mony's experience had also been from managing a Panda Express for several years. After her mother retired from cooking at the restaurant, it was time to think of next steps. She went to a food truck gathering in Elk Grove and saw how social, family oriented, and fun it was. When asked why trailer versus truck, Mony explained that she needed to have open flame burners for all the wok cooking and so buying a food truck would have been too constricting with how they are typically fashioned. The trailer is custom built to the specifications she wanted to make her style of cooking and prep easier.

Another family affair is the mother/daughter team on The Mamas and the Tapas, a Caribbean themed truck based out of Manteca. Christine (mom) and Ashley (daughter) wo-man this truck by themselves most days, but sometimes enlist their cousins as well. The menu includes empanadas, flautas, jerk chicken, bread pudding, and more. Christine said that her background is half Puerto Rican and they decided it would be more fun to include favorites from other Caribbean islands as well.  Christine and her husband had many years of experience working for Marie Callendar's and then in the Safeway bakery. Ashley went to culinary school and has several years of management experience via The Cheesecake Factory. 



Out of these four Stockton trucks it's Wok n Roll that is the oldest. When Som Phet started his truck in 2011, he was just doing it on a part time basis. This year he decided to go full time. He serves Pan-Asian cuisine with an emphasis on Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese. Som had worked in restaurants before, but the last 12 years he had been slogging the commute to the Bay area. He had enough of that and is now enjoying his self employment. His most popular items are his pad thai, pho, and Asian sandwich, his creative take on a banh mi.




If you are looking for Pakistani/Indian food in San Joaquin county, then you need to search out The Spicy Grill. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to talk to Naveed, the owner. His dishes include samosas, curries, biryani, and more.



You can catch Spicy Grill and Green Papaya at SactoMoFo 6 on Saturday, april 27th.







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