By Heidi Zemach for Seward City News
Just when you thought we had it all with two new Thai places opening recently in Seward including Woody’s Thai Cuisine restaurant, and Mark T’s Boombai Thai: Curry Up truck, and of course the two local Chinese restaurants downtown, what should come along but another bright shiny red food vehicle, also with an Asian theme. How will we ever stop eating out this summer?
The red converted cargo trailer, dubbed the Rickshaw, arrived here earlier this week. It is parking in just one location, tucked into the corner of Paul Tougas’ five dollar harbor parking area on Fourth Avenue, near the corner of Van Buren Street past the Small Boat Harbor. Its owner, Phu Ngo, (pronounced foe n-go), originally from Los Angeles, says it’s still good for people to have a lot of different Asian food choices in Seward. He had actually planned to offer Thai food too, and had gone to Thailand to research the food last fall, but when he got here recently, he discovered that we already had two Thai food places, and decided to change the menu somewhat.
His trailer is focusing on Southeast Asian rickshaw style-food; snacks and entrees that one might find anywhere were they still have rickshaws such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippians, Thailand and Hawaii. Like the new Boombai Thai van, the Rickshaw is offering a limited number of dishes, but Ngo promises to change the menu, and offer specials every week to keep people returning.
Ngo worked as a seasonal employee for five summers in Seward at the KFT Glacier Lodge and also at Alaska Wildland Adventure, and knows how expensive eating out here can be on a low budget. He appreciates his new business’ low overhead costs, and the help he received from Tougas, so he hopes to transfer some of those savings to customers by making his prices affordable. “I’m trying to provide a good value. I know it can be costly here,” he said. The Rickshaw will cater to the seasonal workers and local residents who will enjoy a food they can pick up and walk away with fairly quickly for $8-$11, but hopes that the summer tourists also will notice his trailer and come try it.
He will try to operate most days of the week and during the weekends, except when he needs to leave for more provisions. The hours are from 11:00 a.m-8:00 p.m.
Ngo has no official training in cooking, but he likes to cook what his mother taught him to make, and she ran a restaurant in LA, where they lived. Thus the Rickshaw currently offers dishes such as Loco Moco, an island comfort food consisting of rice topped with a beef patty, topped with gravy, topped with a fried egg. It’s also offering Lemongrass Pork Chop, a huge chop served over rice and Kim Chi. My own personal favorite, although admittedly the only dish I tried, was the Vietnamese savory crepe, a crispy fried crepe stuffed with shrimp, onion and bean sprouts that you add slices of cucumber to, wrap inside crunchy pieces of lettuce, and finally dip in a miso-peanut sauce or a fish sauce. There’s also a great coconut water from Thailand, which is very refreshing on warm summer days like the ones we’ve been having.