Five-buck lunch: Kin Kin’s food truck in River Market mixes Mexican and Vietnamese
08/06/2014 7:00 AM
08/06/2014 8:03 PM
It’s hard to believe how many choices one little orange truck can offer.
One shrimp taco, $2.89. Fried tofu (six pieces), $4.59. Breakfast burrito (served all day), $3.49. Mexi-fries, $4.99. Bahn mi sandwich, $3.59. Falafel or meat tacos, $1.79 each.
“We wanted to have something accessible and affordable for everybody,” said Rosa Parra, owner of Kin Kin’s Little Truck Eats & Snacks.
Parra opened the truck in September with her husband, Raymond Chau. Parked outside the Chinatown Food Market in the River Market, Kin Kin’s is her first business.
“Our family pushed us to do it,” Parra said. “They said, ‘You guys like to cook.’”
The menu is a reflection of the couple’s cultures: Parra is Mexican and Chau is Vietnamese. The location is symbiotic: Chau’s mother owns the Chinatown Food Market, where Parra shops for some of the menu items; in turn, Parra can offer shoppers a place to grab hot food not available inside.
Parra and Chau have been married four years, and she has learned how to make Vietnamese cuisine. They met because she had taken a job at the grocery store. Parra has found a lot of similarities between the cuisines: “It’s the same spices, same flavors.”
About the food: If you’re starving — or, as a friend likes to say, creepy-hungry — go for the fries. The enormous portion of crinkle-cut fries is topped with ground beef, cheese and pickled jalapenos. It comes with a side of tomatillo and jalapeno salsa.
“Mexican food without salsa is not Mexican food,” Parra notes.
I recommend pouring the salsa over the whole thing as the beef is not heavily seasoned. I prefer crunchy fries, so I thought the potatoes in my order could have used more time in the fryer. But it’s hard to beat the price-to-weight ratio. I reheated leftovers in the toaster oven the next day to great success.
The six pieces of fried tofu also could have used a little more seasoning and cooking time. While the triangular pieces, served with a side of sweet and sour dipping sauce, were large and thick, they probably would only satiate someone looking for a very light protein lunch.
This brings me to the shrimp taco, which the menu deems as its “most popular taco.” The three large Cajun-spiced shrimp were served in a tortilla wrap with lettuce, tomato and cheese. I was struck by how filling the single taco was because of its bold flavors. Pair that with a falafel taco, and you can have two for less than $5.
If you visit the truck, don’t be surprised to see kids helping out. Parra and Chau have a blended family of six children, ages 5 to 14.
“My kids are learning how to work, how to be on time, how to count money,” Parra said. “It’s amazing to see them grow up like that. And a food truck gives you the chance to be with your family.”
Actually, Parra and Chau have a seventh child — the little boy pictured on the orange truck. His name was Kingston, and he was Chau’s godson. He died at age 3 about four years ago in an accident, Parra said. Orange was his favorite color.
“We carry him everywhere,” Parra said of Kingston. “He’s the motivation for us.”
The truck is generally open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week, depending on weather and events. For instance, on Saturdays, they open at 8:30 a.m. to accommodate the River Market farmers market crowds. And on July Fourth, it was open until midnight for revelers attending the KC Riverfest. Likewise, the truck is closed in the winter.
Also be on the lookout for specials, such as Parra’s gorditas and Chau’s crawfish boil. They might not be $5, but they’re authentic.
Send suggestions of lunch items that are fast (10 minutes or less), fresh, and cheap ($5 or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kin Kin’s Little Truck Eats & Snacks
202 Grand Blvd.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Sunday, but opens 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
Parking: Free in Chinatown Food Market lot
Vegetarian options: Fried tofu, falafel tacos, quesadilla without meat
Credit cards: Yes
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