The most tantalizing Thai foods carry a uniquely complex balance of sweet, sour, spicy, and tangy. For Thai Fusion Tacos, the trick is to capture the complexity of Thai cuisine in dishes that are simple to carry in hand.
“You can eat it standing up, you can eat it walking around, you don’t need utensils,” said Keith Miller, who launched the Thai Fusion Tacos food truck early this year as an extension of his West Hills restaurant, Thai Fusion Bistro.
Keith and his wife, Nok, opened the restaurant over two years ago with an ambition to give people new ways to enjoy and explore Thai flavors. Taking the fusion route offered a path to broaden its appeal. At the Bistro, Thai tacos got their start on the appetizer menu. And with the demand growing beyond Taco Tuesdays, Keith was driven to take this specialty on the road to share with more of Los Angeles.
Inspired by a range of Thai dishes from appetizers to desserts, the truck offers eight to 12 tacos incorporating fresh and familiar Thai ingredients and sauces. Of all the choices, the chicken larb may be the most traditional Thai course, which is akin to a ground chicken salad and usually served in lettuce cups or with rice. But Thai Fusion Tacos folds their larb into a light tortilla, enhancing the mildly spicy kick of the meat with fresh basil and a twist of lime juice.
Likewise, you’ll find Thai-style duck ducking out of the usual curry or soup bowls to tuck into a taco under a layer of mango salsa. Also paired with the mango salsa is the soft shell crab, which is carefully fried, preserving its gentle meat and sweet and briny flavors.
With more choices like tri-tip, pulled pork, fried oysters, ahi tuna, or tofu, Thai flavors come through in the spices and splashes of lime juice or fish sauce. Some tacos are also topped with Thai slaw or drizzled with a spicy aioli made with Sriracha sauce, which originated in Thailand. And then for dessert…
“Believe it or not, one of our most popular ones is our mango sticky rice,” said Rich Armas, manager of the Thai Fusion Tacos truck. This uncomplicated dish is exactly as its name describes, with a bit of coconut milk added to create a distinctively sweet taco. It’s a popular dessert at Thai restaurants that seems more delectable when it’s easy to lift the entire treat up to your face.
Some items lean more fusion than Thai, such as the fried avocado taco, which is among the vegan options on the menu.
“There are so many things to choose from that something will appeal to everybody whether you’re vegan or gluten free or something else,” said Keith. “There’s always something on the menu that you can eat.”
The taco fillings are served on grill-pressed flour tortillas, purposely made thin so that the dominant flavor of the taco is the filling itself. “I really want to accent the ahi, and I really want to accent the duck, and the tri-tip, and the soft shell crab. Those are the flavors I want people to taste,” said Keith. “I don’t want them tasting flour or corn.” Notably, Thai Fusion Tacos also offers corn tortillas as a gluten-free option.
The truck takes full advantage of the kitchen at Thai Fusion Bistro to make the fillings for the tacos, a luxury that many local food trucks do not have. The restaurant gives them plenty of extra space to prepare and store food for the truck. Some items, such as the pork, are smoked and slow cooked, while others, such as the tofu, are marinated for long periods of time at the Bistro before hitting the streets.
“We could always replenish at the restaurant and get fresh ingredients so that our food comes out tasting fresh every time,” said Rich.
On Sunday nights throughout the summer, the Thai Fusion Tacos truck will be attending the Woodland Hills’ Concerts on the Green. You can also find them at Odd Nights at the Autry, held on the third Friday of the month through October, or every Saturday at Malibu Wines in Malibu. For updates, check the truck’s website schedule.