Eat, Drink, Savor: The Hapa Bros. bring an Asian twist to food truck favorites

Based in San Juan Bautista, brothers Aaron and Jason Ricketts are making it.

The best sign the Hapa Brothers have One of the best chicken sandwiches? Crowds of customers standing in the rain outside a food truck parked by Vertigo Coffee on Fourth Street in San Juan Bautista.

“It shows that what we’re doing is working,” Aaron said. “We have a big following in San Juan, I would say 85% of people are regulars. When I’m so busy, I want to turn around and say ‘hello’ to everyone and have a little chat, but I can’t do it at that pace.” .

Considering Hapa Brothers (Aaron Ricketts and Jason Ricketts) just opened last August, this was an amazing success story. special event.

“It’s funny you know everything is still so new, right?” said Jason. “We don’t have data to compare with last year. I don’t think I could have done more.”

The word “hapa” means “half-breed” in Hawaiian, referring to the Ricketts brothers, who are half Japanese and half Norwegian, and a menu steeped in rich Asian flavors.

Savor the instantly famous chicken sandwich, lightly breaded and golden brown, topped with kimchi coleslaw and a drizzle of caramelized soy sauce, and served on a brioche bun.

“I’ve noticed people love fried chicken,” Aaron said. “Unless you want to catch up with Popeye, you can’t get anything like that in the area. And you’re still getting the fast food version. It’s about the kind of food I like to eat.”

There are so many things to unpack in every bite, like salted chicken, pepper kimchi, salty soy sauce, and sweet bread, and they all work.

“Aaron made sure we had balance in the flavor department,” said Jason. “He hinted at all the sauces and ingredients, and even I was skeptical at first, thinking they looked like different flavor profiles. was incredible.”

Aaron said some customers were hesitant about the idea of ​​putting kimchi coleslaw in their sandwiches.

“If people are hesitant, I give them a taste,” he said. It should be enjoyed that way.Kimchi is often thought of as spicy, but it is much more hearty than spicy.Kimchi is traditionally served with almost every dish.Cut the fat off and enjoy it. It just adds a little brightness to the food.”

And customers clearly love it, taking nearly 100 orders on a rainy San Juan night when I cooked it for a drenched customer, including an early supporter, ex-councilor Dan DeVries. As can be seen from the

“They’re a great addition to San Juan, and it’s a calm thing,” he said. People alone tell how popular it is, and we come here as often as possible.”

Their success has led them to consider ways to expand their business with another food truck or brick-and-mortar restaurant, but for now, they’re caught up in existing demand.

“We’re literally three with my mom, Linda, doing the surgery,” Aaron said. “And now we are open three to four days a week on average. But we still need time to prepare.

Considering that Aaron spends about three days a week making sauces and preparing ingredients for other dishes, he doesn’t have much time elsewhere.

“All things considered, there’s no such thing as a five-day work week,” says Aaron. “It’s like eight days a week. Our bandwidth stretches very thin and we’re getting more people quickly. I never dreamed of opening one, but it’s a great business model and I think we can rely on its success.”

A Hapabros favourite.

Hapa Fried Chicken Sandwich – “The focus of everything I do in the kitchen is making sure there is balance in the flavor department,” says Aaron. “This sandwich is very well balanced in terms of sweet, salty and savory, with a little tangy.” The first thing you’ll notice is that the chicken itself is huge. I still haven’t finished these sandwiches in one sitting with him. It’s not that it’s heavy, it’s the opposite. The cured chicken is insanely tender, and the breading is very light and perfectly crisp. Brioche buns are flavorful, light and airy, and almost fleeting when compared to standard hamburger buns. The kimchi is sharp without overpowering the rest of the flavor. And the caramel soy sauce adds depth and sweetness. It’s a full meal and clearly a must – try their menu.

Bulgogi Steak Egg Roll – “I make my own bulgogi marinade,” said Aaron. A delicious carne he uses asada meat, topped with caramelized onions, carrots and cabbage, and simply rolls it in his egg roll his wrapper. I didn’t want to do tacos that took too long in the truck. So is our method of simplifying it. The rolls are served with a garlic he aioli sauce, which adds tartness and lift to the caramel-colored dark sugar tones of the bulgogi, but I recommend trying it without it. The complex flavor combination of steak and vegetables is impressive on its own.

Mochi Waffle – According to Aaron, waffles are the second most popular item after chicken sandwiches. “We went to Farmer’s Market in the morning,” he said. “It really didn’t work because people who came that early weren’t coming to us craving a chicken sandwich. I tried it out and developed this recipe.” Thanks to the rice flour, the waffle has a sponge-like texture and is just the right amount of sweetness. The surroundings are crispy and topped with strawberries and fresh cream. Light yet solid, this is a pleasure.

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BenitoLink thanks the underwriters. Hollister Supermarket and Windmill Market, helped expand the Eat, Drink, Taste series and provide readers with interesting stories. Hollister Supermarkets (2 locations in Hollister) and Windmill Market (located in San Juan Bautista) support reports about the inspiring and creative people behind many of the delicious foods and drinks made in San Benito County. I’m here. All editorial decisions are made by BenitoLink.

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