The Fare: A hybrid of Hawaiian, Vietnamese, and Mexican sandwiches and fare.>"/>
The Fare: A hybrid of Hawaiian, Vietnamese, and Mexican sandwiches and fare.
The Stop: Hybrid taco trucks are nothing new to the food truck scene - and neither is Fusion on the Run, which started in the winter of 2009 after a year of planning - but its owner Cassandra Seaman has done something notable. She, with her surfer-Hawaiian-Portlandia roots, has managed to create a beast cuisine that's best coined as "Hawaiiamesicorean." This beast makes the sweet flavors of Hawaiian fare play nice with the herbs of Vietnamese cuisine, and become best friends with the flavors found in Korean and Mexican foods. The results? A peaceful marriage of simple flavors that go together just right, in the form of banh mi sandwiches and tacos.
Seaman, who grew up in Hawaii and Portland, became influenced by both place's ties to food. In Hawaii, where she spent her summers visiting her mom, she frequented the food trucks that rolled up to her surf spots. While volunteering at youth shelters, she often cooked traditional Hawaiian food with the teens she was helping. In Portland, she watched the food truck scene buzz and rev its monstrous engine; she even helped a friend start a sandwich truck. Seaman, who says she's constantly eating, worked in the professional catering industry for ten years before deciding to take her own leap.
When Seaman was searching for a truck to make her own, she spotted an old SWAT truck on Craigslist. It was made of steel and was bullet proof. These were perhaps excessive qualities for a food truck, but Seaman was already dreaming up punny names that fit her menu and the truck's history - she bought the truck on the spot. The phrase "fugitive on the go" turned into "fusion on the go," which later turned into "fusion on the run," an homage to its hybrid of Hawaiian-Mexican-Vietnamese cuisine.
Instead of carting around heavily-armed people, Seaman carts around a menu complete with items she developed in her own kitchen and tested out on hungry friends.
The Kahlua pork sandwich, with slow-roasted pulled pork, grilled pineapple, cilantro, surfer sauce, a sesame slaw, and pickled red onion, is tangy and juicy. What makes this sandwich a winner, though, is the surfer sauce - basically a sweet and sour aioli - that Seaman proudly concocted. During the time she was playing around with sauce recipes, her roommate-at-the-time despised mayonnaise. She cajoled him into trying her aioli and turned a hater into a lover - he began eating that sauce with everything.
One of Fusion on the Run's most popular items is the marinated short rib sandwich that has a Korean-Vietnamese twist. The ribs, which are grilled to order, are marinated with an adapted Kalbi sauce that Seaman says is less salty than the sauce commonly used on traditional Korean short ribs. Then they're assembled into sandwich form on baguettes - Vietnamese banh mi style - with a sesame slaw, daikon, jalapeno, cucumber, and carrots. Interestingly enough, the banh mi, with its bagette, is a piece of fusion itself that sprang about during the French colonial period.
But what're her plans for the future?
Although Fusion on the Run has a small customer base, says Seaman, it has a loyal one. In coming weeks, Seaman says that Fusion on the Run will set up base downtown near the Seattle Public Library, which she hopes will spread the word.
"I've always kinda had a dream of having a small sandwich shop - that's been my ultimate dream," says Seaman. "But realistically, the next big steps are to really be focused on catering."
Still, her truck will roll on, turning haters of things like mayonnaise into lovers with her Hawaiiamesicorean menu.