Over the past several years Food Trucks have gone from a passing fad to a genuine cultural phenomenon. As I have written elsewhere on this Blog, the catalyzing moment for that transformation appears to have occurred when the Kogi Truck in Los Angeles applied guerilla marketing principals to social networking technology tools and its innovative Korean Fusion tacos went over the top (in more ways than one). The food truck movement has now caught on in all of the major cities in the country. The reasons for this are varied.
From the standpoint of the customer it is not difficult to see why. Food trucks offer a cost-effective way for busy workers – particularly white collar workers – to enjoy real food with real character and do so quickly. From the standpoint of the entrepreneur it is also not difficult to see why. In an industry that is notably expensive and risky to enter, food trucks offer lower barriers to entry, lower risk, and a genuine upside. It does not hurt that the mechanisms of promotion that work in the food truck world – social networking, in particular – are ones that legions of culinary school graduates and sous chefs already understand.
San Diego’s MIHO Gastrotruck – one of the first successful trucks in the city – is a great example. Founded by Kevin Ho and Juan Miron, two ex-pats from the Linkery Restaurant in North Park – MIHO is oriented around a farm to table concept rather than around any particular cuisine. The truck’s menus, which change on a weekly basis, might feature Cochinita Pibil Tacos one week, Lamburgers the next, Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Roasted Local Fennel and Pesto Aioli the following week.
On my most recent visit to MIHO my daughter, Gwennie, ordered the Omakase Salad with a delicious — succulent even — fried chicken protein element. The chicken was crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and was set off against some of the freshest imaginable local greens.
I ordered the Pork Belly Bahn Mi, MIHO’s version of the classic Vietnamese sandwich of meat on baguette with cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon and chiles. The Pork Belly, ridiculously luxurious with a tender richness that almost approached foie gras territory, was perfectly cut by the acidity of the pickled vegetables and precisely studded by the chile pepper.
It was not the first time I’ve been to the MIHO Gastrotruck and will not be the last.