Jimmy Nguyen and his wife Chau Vo are the delightful pair behind the wheel of one of the most popular, and cheekily named, food trucks in the city. Hot Asian Buns, as the name suggests, specializes in bao – handmade bao – which they make in small batches using all-natural ingredients free of preservatives.
It's a five-hour process from start to finish, but that sort of dedication to quality comes naturally to Nguyen, a Le Cordon Bleu Orlando graduate. After honing his skills under the tutelage of Kathleen Blake at the Rusty Spoon and Henry Moso at Kabooki Sushi, Nguyen set out on his own with his wife, who left the corporate world for the food truck life – and they both couldn't be happier, or more committed.
"We're trying to bring back a sense of what a food truck should be," says Nguyen. "We felt the true essence got a little lost in the city's food truck scene over the years, but we know it's got to be food you can't find in most restaurants. It should be exclusive, affordable and taste good on the street."
If you've sunk your teeth into their KFC bao with gochujang, nori, scallions and a creamy slaw, you know their food tastes damn good on the street, or anywhere else for that matter. There's an undeniable sense of craftsmanship and direction in their approach, and Nguyen gives praise to one person in particular who helped influence his style and ethic – our 2018 BITE Award winner, the Rusty Spoon's Kathleen Blake.
"She really shaped who I am today as a chef," he says. "I started as an amateur line cook fresh out of culinary school and worked my way up to sous chef in the three years I was there. She taught me how to respect ingredients, farmers, techniques, and instilled a sense of discipline and leadership in me." It's no wonder Blake is considered one of our finest culinarians and Nguyen, arguably, is well on his way.