Food truck “Soy Cholo” opens in March with a Mexican take on takoyaki, pho & more

The food truck will be up and running within the first couple of weeks of March.

When it comes to Asian-Mexican cuisine, Korea has enjoyed most of the spotlight. With Roy Choi of Kogi as one of the pioneers, kimchi tacos worked their way into menus across the country. However, other Asian cuisines offer untapped potential. Chef Armando Duarte plans to explore that frontier with a Pan-Asian take on Mexican cuisine in his upcoming food truck, Soy Cholo.

The name embraces cholo culture while offering a play on words. Soy refers to the soybean ubiquitous in East Asian cuisine but also means “I am” in Spanish.

Photo courtesy of Soy Cholo

Tamal-yaqi ay Soy Cholo Food Truck (Photo courtesy of Soy Cholo)

“Growing up my family [was] big on Chinese food and [I] fell in love with it at an early age and then started getting into Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai food,” Duarte said. “I would also experiment with combining Mexican and Asian style ingredients together for my family. So basically the name Soy Cholo [says]: I am a cholo and proud of it. Both cultures share some ingredients that are the same or very close to each other and some cooking techniques as well.”

Furthermore, Duarte has been involved in Tucson’s lowrider community—he has owned a couple of lowriders and has been featured in Lowrider magazine and lowrider videos.

The menu

Soy Cholo’s tacos are topped with cilantro, onions, spicy mayo, and eel sauce. Chicken is marinated in an orange juice, soy, and ginger marinade, while carne asada is marinated in traditional seasoning along with ginger and sesame oil. Slow-roasted pork and tofu will also be available as taco fillings.

Vietnamese cuisine gets a nod with the Pho-Rito, which offers your choice of protein with rice noodles, cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, and hoisin sauce wrapped in a 14-inch tortilla.

Japan’s takoyaki takes a Mexican turn here; it’s made with corn masa and shrimp instead of the traditional wheat-based batter and octopus.

Tucson’s beloved Sonoran hot dog will also have a twist; Duarte’s version features a bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with piña pico, ginger, eel sauce, and spicy mayo. Additional creative specials will be regularly available, starting at $6.

Beverage options include Mexican sodas and East Asian sodas. During warmer months, Soy Cholo will also offer a Mexican version of Thai tea.

Where to find them

The food truck is not yet serving the streets, but Duarte hopes to be up and running within the first couple of weeks of March. While they are in search of a permanent spot either on the south or west side of town, they are also teaming up with some local food truck rallies. One of their first bookings is 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on April 4 at Speedway Boulevard and Pantano Road.

Keep up with Soy Cholo on Instagram.

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 and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.

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