Courtesy of LeeAnn Cottom
Three new food trailers in East Austin are not only offering a culture clash of affordable cuisines in one spot, but have set examples to anyone toying with an idea for a new venture.
Yoko Ono Miyaki, El Pollo Rey and Pachamama's Peruvian Creole Cuisine are new additions to the East Side Food Park, and according to Park Manager LeeAnn Cottom, customers have likened this variety to a “trip around the world.”
Yoko Ono Miyaki opened in January and specializes in okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancakes, which owner Michael Pearson said he discovered while in Japan.
Pearson said he wanted to be able to share the unique find with Austin, so he bought a food trailer on Craigslist and decided to go for it.
He said the pancakes aren't sweet, but savory and are actually more like a pizza. The base is made of cabbage, and its ingredients include green onion, ginger and Japanese mountain root, which he searches for in local Asian markets, but said can be tricky to find.
Pearson said the unique creation has been said to resemble a sort of monster or alien, especially while it's being cooked.
“The tuna on top dances in the heat,” he said.
The name of the business is intended to help customers learn and remember the name of the foreign dish, which he said is an extremely popular street food in Japan.
Pearson, who put himself through college working in the food industry, credits his food service experience with helping fine-tune his customer service skills, and said he is enjoying meeting new people.
“I'm excited when people come up to window because you never know where they're going to be from and what their story is,” he said.
Long-time friends and Austinites Raul Quiroga and Felipe Rodriguez, originally from Nuevo Leon, Mexico, just opened El Pollo Rey in November, but have wanted to share their native cuisine with the community for a long time.
“We came from Mexico with a dream,” Quiroga said. “Our paths took us in different ways for 30 years.”
Quiroga, who is planning to retire soon after 27 years with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, said he and Rodriguez, who recently retired from the construction industry, decided the time was right to start the business.
Their menu includes charcoal grilled chicken and al pastor tacos, which are prepared on an eight-foot grill installed in the trailer and served with rice and beans.
Quiroga said they are becoming known for their large, but affordable, chicken portions, including the whole chicken meal with sides, which serves a family of four for $14. He added that they are excited to be picking up new clientele as word about their food is spreading.
Victor Polanco and Hector Sloss, who opened Pachamama's Peruvian Creole Cuisine in January, have also wanted to open an establishment where they could share a native cuisine.
Polanco, originally from Peru, said his grandmother taught him how to prepare traditional, homemade Creole food, which he said includes “many, many forms of potatoes.”
Sloss said Pachamama's, which is Peruvian for “Mother Earth,” came about after years of receiving compliments and positive feedback on their food at dinner parties.
Their menu includes fish, meat, vegetarian and gluten-free meals and a different soup is prepared fresh daily such as aguadito, a traditional Peruvian chicken soup. They also have desserts, including the popular, Alfajores, which are shortbread cookies made with caramelized milk, coconut and powered sugar.
“We wanted to offer good, affordable food and try something different,” Polanco said.
Polanco and Sloss have lived in East Austin for five years and say their business is a good opportunity to grow along with the East Side.
East Side Food Park is also home to the Coffee Spot and Dirty Bird's BBQ.
East Side Food Park
- 2209 E. Cesar Chavez St.
Yoko Ono Miyaki
- Website coming soon: www.yokoonomiyaki.com
- Hours: Tue.-Thu. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., closed Monday
El Pollo Rey
- Hours: Sun.- Thu. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Pachamama's Peruvian Creole Cuisine
- Website coming soon: www.pachamamascuisine.com
- Hours: Mon., Wed.-Thu. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.