15 November, 2019, 21:51

“American Asian” food truck serves classics & creative fusion items

Chef Randall Irby learned Vietnamese cooking from his wife Phuõng and launched Asian American.

When you hear a food truck is named American Asian, what do you expect?

If you guessed a burger and fried rice, you’re partially correct. But you’ll also find banh mi, chow mein, wonton tacos, and Asian jerk wings.

American Asian is a bit of a vague name, but “Fast Food American Food Truck with some Vietnamese” or “Chinese, Mexican and Even Jamaican Influences” is too long of a name for a food truck or any business.

American Asian owner and manager Randall Irby learned to cook from his father, who was a cook in the Air Force and a chef at a DoubleTree by Hilton. In 1972, he followed his father’s footsteps and began his culinary career with a position at DoubleTree as well.

Randall Irby and a Lemongrass Beef Bowl from food truck American Asian

Randall Irby and a Lemongrass Beef Bowl from food truck American Asian (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Afterwards, Irby cooked at and managed several other Tucson restaurants. He learned Vietnamese cooking from his wife Phuõng, and in February 2017, he launched the Asian American food truck.

Menu Highlights

The American side of the menu features hamburgers ($5 – 6), chicken strips with fries ($6 – $7), and onion rings ($3).

On the fusion side, the Dragon Dog ($5) features a bacon-wrapped hot dog cooked in an egg roll wrapper served in a hot dog bun and covered with mango salsa, salsa verde, house-made spicy ranch dressing, and deep fried shallots. The Danger Dog ($4) features a cream cheese jalapeño chive hot dog cooked in an egg roll wrapper.

Additionally, the menu offers hot wings ($9 for five, $16 for 10) in mild/hot/extreme, garlic parmesan, Asian jerk, and spicy peanut butter.

If you love peanut butter, also keep an eye out for the AA Burger ($6) with a grilled Asian jerk-seasoned Angus beef patty, pickled daikon and carrot, cucumber, and house-made peanut butter sauce on a toasted bun.

The peanut butter sauce covers a spectrum of flavors with rich peanut butter, sambal spiciness, soy umami, and a hint of sweetness.

Lemongrass Beef Bowl and Spicy Peanut Butter Wings from food truck American Asian

Lemongrass Beef Bowl and Spicy Peanut Butter Wings from food truck American Asian (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Other Asian options include Vietnamese noodle bowls ($10-$11), egg rolls (available as a combo side or a la carte, $1.50 for one, $6 for five), spring rolls ($3.50 for one, $9 for three), fried rice ($9 – $10), banh mi ($8), and steamed rice bowls ($9).

While the food truck offers a wide range of cuisines, its popularity lies with its Asian cuisine.

“The Asian side gets most of the orders,” Randall said. “The most popular items are the chicken chow mein and the noodle bowls.”

Where to find them

For now, find the food truck mostly at breweries. Visit their Facebook page for their full schedule. Also, keep an eye out for a permanent spot in the future.

“Yes, we are planning to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant,” Irby said. “We just need the right location.”

Keep up with American Asian on Facebook.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com.

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