At a Monday night food truck roundup in downtown Hollywood's Young Circle people walk by David Peck's Box of Chacos truck and squint their eyes trying to grasp what the former Tap 42 chef is serving.
"This is too much for me," one woman concedes before walking away.
That "too much" includes a five-spice pork taco with a spicy green salad and spicy mayo for $3.50. It's also a Phuket Duck ($3) with quick pickles and a creamy aioli.
Peck began his career in South Florida working for Mark Militello. He left for stints at Nobu in Dallas, TX and restaurants in the Florida Keys.
It was at Nobu where Peck said he developed a passion for Asian food.
"The attention to detail, the focus was something that really stood out," he said. "I started to grown fond of Asian food and the great thing about Dallas was how you could get a great taco anywhere.
"I've always been one of those guys who, for a quick snack, would slap something into a tortilla," he added.
The Asian taco concept evolved naturally. Each of Chacos' tacos are sold a la carte. The five-spice pork was far and away the best, filling your head with the taste and scent of Chinese five-spice powder; a combination of ground star anise, clover, Sichuan peppercorn, cinnamon, and fennel seed.
The Shaolin Veg ($2.50) is a vegetarian's dream. A crescent of avocado is breaded, deep fried and topped with quinoa and spicy mayo. It's got texture thanks to the frying, and plenty of the spiciness you want in a taco.
Peck said he was looking to open a restaurant after leaving Tap 42 in the spring, but the $200,000 to $300,000 initial investment for a brick-and-mortar spot was just too much. The food truck, as is common, has a lower hurdle to jump -- in Chacos' case about $50,000 -- and allows him to test the concept.
Like all food trucks Chacos doesn't skimp on the guilty pleasure, only here it can be mildly terrifying. Two fat slabs of Spam are grilled and topped with Colby Jack cheese and a spicy kimchee slaw. It's taste isn't much different than that of deli bologna, but there's the added tinge of hating yourself as you do it.
$6 gets you two of these "Spammers" and if you plan on eating the second one just do it in a private place, far away from prying eyes.
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