Who are the best food trucks in Baja Arizona? We asked, and you answered! We’re counting down the four food trucks who received the most votes during our food truck shout out, and today’s profile is of a truck serving up Mexican-Asian cuisine as attention-grabbing as the vehicle’s bright red paint: Bam Bam Truck.
Tucson is basically synonymous with great Mexican food. Every time my dad comes down to visit me at the University of Arizona, he always insists on eating at least two traditional Mexican meals and a Sonoran hot dog. But despite my dad’s love for all the Mexican food that Tucson has to offer, he’s never had anything quite like Fernando Sanchez’s Mexican.
Sanchez is the owner and chef of Bam Bam Truck, which offers Asian twists on Mexican staples. His inspiration, Sanchez said, comes from his grandmother, who got him interested in food at a young age.
“I was, all the time, in the kitchen with her cooking, so that’s why I love cooking,” Sanchez said.
Though Sanchez doesn’t have any culinary training, he said that he has several friends who are professional chefs who have helped him make his Mexican-Asian food truck dream a reality. A dream, Sanchez said, that started ten years ago.
One of Sanchez’s favorite chefs started the Mexican-Asian fusion idea in Los Angeles, which Sanchez describes as having “similar-different flavors.” He loved the combination so much that he decided to bring it to Tucson in the form of a food truck, thinking a restaurant would be too risky, and has been amazed by the success of Bam Bam.
“For us it’s crazy!” Sanchez said. “Especially with the students…We are the only one in town doing this fusion, and this is hard to find in a restaurant, so that’s probably why it’s good for us.”
Though Sanchez was initially wary of starting a restaurant, he said that because of the strong customer following Bam Bam has, he is looking to open one next year, either close to the UA or downtown.
Some of the unique combinations that Sanchez serves up at Bam Bam include the ramen burger, which features a bun made of fried noodles, and the Korean burrito, which is filled with yakisoba noodles and kimchi instead of traditional Mexican rice and beans.
The Korean burrito, which Sanchez said is his favorite thing on the menu, came about because of his desire to try something new.
“Everywhere is doing burritos with rice, so that’s why one day I decided that I needed to do something different with my dishes, something special, like my signature,” Sanchez said. “I decided to change the rice for the noodles. And when I was doing it, cooking it and everything, it was amazing, so I thought, oh this is it.”
The Bam Bam food truck is easy to spot – bright red, with a painting of Buddha wearing a sombrero hat – but so small, it’s amazing that it doesn’t burst from all the delicious cooking that occurs within it. Similarly, it’s amazing how so much creativity resides modestly within Sanchez.
When I asked him how he came up with his ideas, it was hard for Sanchez to articulate his process. “I don’t know… In my mind,” Sanchez said, searching for a way to explain it.
It seemed to me that Sanchez couldn’t describe his creativity because brainstorming was something natural and constantly occurring in his brain. “All the time I am trying to learn,” Sanchez said.
However he does it, Sanchez creates truly unique and flavorful food by “twisting” traditional Mexican cuisine, and it is one Tucson food truck that Mexican and Asian food lovers alike shouldn’t pass up.