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Keep on Truckin: The Modular

The "Tin Can."
The "Tin Can."

I woke up Sunday morning with a hankering for the comfort of some food truck sustenance -- it had been a long Saturday night. I drove by the one spot I can always count on for just such an occasion, next door to Agora, the former semi-permanent home of Eatsie Boys.

Instead of the colorful truck, in it's place was far humbler trailer, referred to as the "Tin Can." The Modular Trailer is about a month and a half old and just started setting up shop next to Agora at the beginning of July. Owner, Josh Martinez, formerly of Kata Robata, is at the helm and chef Lyle Bento, former sous chef of Feast was cooking up the goods.

The short menu seemed very Asian; specifically, Japanese influenced. Along side the menu a taped up sign displayed that they proudly served local products.

I decided to sample all four items on the menu and the special, which I had eyed greedily as the patron beside me was eating, but was told they had just run out of grouper cheeks but still had salmon collars left.

The Crispy Tuna Poke Tacos ($6) came out first. The sashimi grade tuna was hand chopped and simply garnished with sesame seeds, daikon sprouts and a wasabi mayo. The "taco" shell was a deep fried wonton skin. The fish was well seasoned with soy and sesame oil. Garnishing it with the mellow daikon sprouts made for a more delicate flavor and the wasabi mayo was not overpowering. The "taco" shell was a tad bland and I kept thinking how great this would be on a shrimp chip.

Pork Belly Up.
Pork Belly Up.

The Pork Belly Up ($6) consisted of two large slabs of pork belly shining with a glaze atop a bed of nori-seasoned rice. Pickled red onions and thin slices of green apples accompanied it. The pork belly is sou vide for 48 hours rendering it extremely tender. Eating a little bit of each ingredient together formed a union of sweet, sour, spicy and tangy that exploded in my mouth. The only complaint about not just this dish but all the dishes that came with it, was the rice, which was slighty dry and gritty. These dishes could have been over the top served with Korean or Japanese sticky rice.

That Chicken Got Thighs ($5) was the next dish. Like the pork belly, the thigh meat was cooked sou vide and then glazed with a yakitori sauce. It was served with the same nori seasoned rice and whole peanuts were sprinkled on top. Pickled radish cucumbers added some zest to the dish.

The fresh Gulf Shrimp and Grits ($7), made from Way Back When Dairy products, would do any Southerner proud. The grits were perfectly cooked -- they were creamy but still had a wonderful texture and slight crunch to them. I enjoyed that the shrimp were cooked and served head on; I ate them whole and they were flavorful and juicy.

Copper River salmon collars.
Copper River salmon collars.

Finally, the special, Copper River Salmon Collars ($7) were a sight to behold. The collars gleamed with a glaze of soy and mirin. They were served with fresh Animal Farm oyster mushrooms and baby bok choy. The collar meat was fatty and unctous and the skin was crisp and caramelized. I couldn't stop eating the mushrooms. The mild flavored mushrooms soaked up the sauce, making the each bite better than the last.

This is going to be one of the most exciting food trucks to follow, as Josh rounds up different chefs and finds new local ingredients, to bring their "food from the restaurant to a parking lot near you."

Find them at Agora on Sundays or follow them on twitter @themodular for other locations.



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