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On a sunny Saturday in mid-March at Phoenix Public Market, Chef Brian Webb stands over a charcoal grill inside his van, the Hey Joe! food truck, wiping sweat from his brow and espousing the virtues of Filipino street food.
Dressed in blue jean shorts and a maroon T-shirt with cartoon sushi on it, Webb reaches into the truck's freezer. "Here, I want you to try this. This is a mung bean popsicle," he says, holding out a thick, white frozen cylinder embedded with little green dots. "You won't find those anywhere else in town. My wife makes those."
The sweet and creamy popsicle (made with coconut milk and rice, among other ingredients) is just one part of the Filipino menu available on the Hey Joe! truck. This remodeled 1982 truck — with a yellow logo and colorful wrap that proclaims things like "White meat!" and "Sorry, No Taco" — has been on the streets only since February but already has built a reputation for delicious food.
Webb, who previously worked at the Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix and helped launch Pure Sushi North in Scottsdale, met his wife Margita in Phoenix five years ago. He got the idea for the Hey Joe! truck after their wedding in her hometown of Lapu-Lapu, Philippines, where he saw everyone cooking on the streets with robata-style Japanese grills.
The food truck's called Hey Joe! because during Webb's walks around Lapu-Lapu, that's what all the natives called him. "It used to be something they just shouted at G.I.'s, but now anybody who's white hears it. It's really meant as kind of a greeting," Webb says. "It's like, 'Hey, how you doing?'"
Brian and Margita Webb make everything on the Hey Joe! menu from scratch, using such ingredients as banana ketchup, coconut vinegar, and Filipino soy sauce. One of Brian Webb's favorite dishes is his sizzling pork sisig, in which he buys a pig head, de-bones it ("it sounds gross, but it's fresh," he says), boils it, grills and sautés the meat, and serves it on a sizzling fajita platter. "It's one of the best dishes I've ever cooked, and one of the best in the Philippines," Webb says.
The Hey Joe! food truck also serves chicken asses and feet. For those with less adventurous palates, there are things like ground pork egg rolls, BBQ chicken on skewers, and deep-fried bananas. "Filipino food is really under-appreciated," Webb says. "Our main goal is to make Filipino food well-known. It's just as good as Japanese food, and we want to bring it to the mainstream."
The Webbs, who recently had a baby, work hard toward that goal — even when a tire falls off the truck. Last month, just a mile from the Scottsdale Arts Festival, a wheel went flying and the truck's back axle collapsed. Rather than give up, Webb got permission from the festival to be towed into the fray and set up on concrete blocks. "One major challenge of having a mobile restaurant is keeping it mobile," Webb says. "You never know what's going to happen."