Asia meets Mexico on the Tigerbite street food truck
October is the fourth-annual Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2010."
The day after I read a story in The New York Times this summer about a new dining phenomenon, Korean tacos, sweeping eastward across the country from Los Angeles, I walked passed a long sleek black truck parked at the curb on Water Street, just south of Wisconsin Avenue.
The Times story mentioned that Asian style tacos are often sold as street food from trucks, just as their Mexican culinary cousins are dispensed in cities with large Latino populations.
The black truck on Water St. was emblazoned with the name Tigerbite, and Asian influenced tacos and quesadillas were on sale from a walk-up window, along with egg rolls and decidedly American sweet potato fries. Pleased and a little surprised that a hot new dining trend had found its way to Milwaukee so quickly, I stopped to investigate and discovered Tigerbite co-owners W. Chang and Noel Ly intend to be more than Korean taco vendors. They envision their new business to be Asian fusion food on wheels.
Chang and Ly, who are Hmong-American, are a romantic couple as well as business partners. The 34-year-old Chang grew up in the Two Rivers area before moving to the south side of Milwaukee while in high school. Trained in radiologic technology at UWM, he has worked at several Milwaukee hospitals, including Froedtert.
Ly, 24, is a native of Providence, R.I., but she moved here as a child and has local restaurant business experience. The partners are foodies, which explains Chang's decision to leave the stability of a medical industry job for the financially risky life of being a restaurateur.
"We wanted to do something for ourselves, and although our families are very traditional, we are not," Chang recently said. "We are American, we grew up eating burgers."
The non-traditional approach included shunning the conventional bricks and mortar approach to starting a restaurant and choosing a mobile operation that takes street food to the customer. "It made sense to us," Chang said. "Street food allows us to be more creative and representative of where our families came from."
That would be Asia in the broadest sense. "We are very multi-cultural," he added. "Our menu is taking classic Asian flavors and mixing them with others."
Tigerbite offers beef, pork and chicken tacos ($2.25 each or three for $6), with small corn tortillas and classic Asian ingredients. The beef uses Korean-style marinated and barbecued short-ribs known as kalbi, garnished with crunchy cabbage in an Asian vinaigrette.
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I love Tigerbite! On Thursdays, it often parks on the south side (Kilbourn) of Red Arrow Park. I always check their facebook page to see if they found a place. Everyone where I work that's tried their food has been back more than once. Ever since I found them (one Friday at Cathedral Square) I've been back a half dozen times. Loves the chicken tacos and the spring rolls! Looking forward to more choices!!
Just tried this truck out. It's unbelievable good. I want more, right now. So nice to have a different style of food available. Having trouble finding more to say about it, just give it a shot... especially if you're really sick of the same old, same old...
downtown mke | Oct. 8, 2010 at 2:53 p.m. (report)
Yeah... another reason for people to not go into establish Milwaukee restaurants....
YES! I have been a fan of the Tigerbite menu and people for awhile now so I am so happy to see them in the spotlight. I am personally addicted to the sweet potato fries and the Bahn Mi is amazing. I am heading to Food Truck Friday right now! Thanks for letting more people about this great Milwaukee gem. :)
When I saw their sign that said "Best Eggroll in Milwaukee" I thought "Really? Out of a truck?" But I took the bait, paid the money, and bit into...one of the best eggrolls I've had in Milwaukee. Since then I've been telling people that if they see the Tiger Bite truck they need to give 'em a try.
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