The food industry is a numbers game. What separates success from failure does not often lie in the food but in the overhead cost of the restaurant. Staff, rent, power and food costs can be astronomical. Pair that with a weakened economy, and the game gets even tighter. But a culinary movement of roving chefs in vehicular kitchens is changing the game, and with it, ushering in a new generation of chefs and diners.
The advent of the food truck is the epitome of American ingenuity. After all, what is more American than a truck—and fast food? Mix food and truck, add a dash of American entrepreneurial spirit and you have a recipe for delicious mobile eats. The romantic notion of the open road paired with gourmet grub has created a whole new genre of eating on the run.
One such panel truck-turned-kitchen that has caught the Palm Beach Illustrated office’s collective eye is Spring In, Roll Out, which set up shop near the Marathon gas station on Dixie Highway in downtown West Palm Beach. This whitewashed truck with two smiling panda faces grabbed our attention not because food trucks are somewhat of an anomaly in downtown West Palm, but because it serves up authentic Vietnamese cuisine, making this one of the only places in the county dealing strictly Vietnamese.
The brainchild of Maky Huynh, Spring In Roll Out wheeled up to Marathon in June. While most food truck operators are restaurant vets or recent culinary school grads, Huynh, who hadn't worked in a restaurant, was more of a food fan who saw a need and an opportunity.
“I had no experience before I started [Spring In Roll Out],” says Huynh, who quit his job to open a food truck. “When I was thinking about opening the truck, I was looking around and noticed there were taco trucks, burgers, pizza, nachos—all these different things, but no Vietnamese. So I started one.”
Cooking since he was a child, Huynh got his recipes from his father, a native of Vietnam and a cook in his own right. The menu items are "all traditional, with some tweaks," he says as a queue of patrons patiently waited for bánh mì’s and spring rolls.
With everything made fresh to order, the menu is pretty simple. It constists of a handful of bánh mì options, each featuring a different meat (barbecue pork, lemongrass pork or lemongrass chicken, plus pork pâté as an additional request) built atop the traditional bánh mì makeup: a fresh baguette cradling a mix of pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber, jalapenos, cilantro and garlic mayo. The ultimate sandwich, it's sweet, spicy, crunchy and savory. The lemongrass pork sandwich ($4.99 for half, $6.99 for whole) is a thing of beauty: spicy, downhome and exotic all at once.
For a light bite, the spring rolls (four for $5.50), available in pork or turkey, are fried to golden perfection, while the summer rolls (three for $6), available with pork, lemongrass chicken or shrimp, are light and refreshing—the perfect bite for a warm day. The housemade peanut sauce topping is a crunchy, delicious feather in the cap. For the traditionalist, any of the meats can be prepared with rice noodles for a street side version of pho.
As season brings unwinds, Huynh plans to unroll more menu items, so be on the lookout for expanded eats and the smiling pandas on the side of the truck.
- Location: Marathon gas station on the corner of 8th Street and Dixie Highway in downtown West Palm Beach.
- Food: Authentic Vietnamese cuisine; bánh mì; spring and summer rolls; pho.
- Price: Inexpensive.
- Service: Made-to-order. Amiable.
- Follow: On Facebook: facebook.com/springinrollout; on Twitter: @springinrollout.