Vellee Deli food truck serves fusion cuisine curbside


Vellee Deli's slick black truck has been winding through Minneapolis and Saint Paul streets serving a combination of Mexican and Asian cuisines.  The new mobile kitchen is owned and operated by William Xiong and his partner/executive chef Joyce Truong.  Turning out interesting twists on familiar food like a Korean burrito, stuffed with rice, bulgogi-style beef and kimchi or a tasty take on a traditional Bahn Mi, Vellee Deli is worth a visit.

The Hot Dish recently caught up with Xiong to talk to him about how they got into the business and where they found that badass truck.


How did you get involved in the food industry?

My experience with the food industry stems back to my days in Texas.  We had a small family restaurant that served a mix of Chinese and Thai food. It was there that I developed my culinary skills.

This was years ago.  Now I'm currently a full-time Clinical Microbiologist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, but Vellee is where my  heart is.

As for Joyce, she has no formal culinary training, but has been cooking since the age of 9.  With both parent's working, she would be in charge of having dinner ready every night during the week.  Even at that young of an age, she has always enjoyed cooking.  She is a rarity and a real natural culinary artist.

How did you decide to do a fusion of cuisines?
Being from Texas, I was always a huge lover of Mexican food; stuff from the small mom and pop joints you can find any Texas city.  I was also was pretty intimate with Thai cuisine, but until I met Joyce, I had no idea what deliciousness I was missing out on with Vietnamese cuisine. My knowledge at the time was limited to Pho, but now the gates have burst open. I love Vietnamese BBQ! And Joyce has the best BBQ pork marinade hands down.

While sitting around, daydreaming about our future restaurant, we had the Food Network playing in the distant background and that's when a truck called Kogi made a cameo.  They were talking about the fusion of Mexican and Korean.  The bulb lit up and everything we knew about Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Hmong and Mexican food came together in a mashup.

Is there a menu item that you're most proud of?

They're all good, honestly.  Each one has their own distinct delicious taste, but if we had to chose, there would be have two winners.  Joyce is most proud of her Korean BBQ Burrito.  I was a little skeptical at first with the kimchi in the burrito but after the first bite, I knew it was a winner.  The short ribs are by far one of the most tender cuts you can get, but the secret also lies in Joyce's marinade.  Then you have that roasted Roja sauce to provide a perfect balance.  There's a lot of goodness going on in that burrito. 

And for number two, the one I'm most proud of is my Chicken Currito.  I love curry, specifically Thai curry.  When I make curry, I lean more towards savory than sweet.  The key is to have the right coconut milk to curry ratio to get that perfect consistency.  It's also spicy, but not painful spicy.  Enough kick to keep you up after lunch rather than causing you

to doze off.    

You've been to both Minneapolis and St. Paul, do you plan to spend more time in one city or the other?
We're a food truck and we're made to be mobile.  The game plan is to go where people want us.   We want to represent Minnesota as a whole and show the nation that Minnesota is just as hip as any other large metropolitan city.  You don't have to move to the coast to find these great food options. The trucks are here to stay.

Your truck is pretty pimped out. Where did you get the truck and design?

We picked up our Vellee beast down yonder in Miami, FL.  It was a hefty price, but we wanted the best.  As for the design, I told them to paint it black and I'll take care of the rest.  The design, marketing and website came from crazy imagination.  I'm also an art freak in the closet so I wanted an image that came from my own hands.  And being the kind of person that I am, it wouldn't have felt right to hire someone to do it.  Every image came from a paper and pencil drawing scanned to Adobe Phototoshop.  Pain in the butt, but fun.

Anyway, this was probably the hardest part during the developmental stages of our business.  I knew the food was awesome, the equipment was top notch, and my team was solid, but trying to manifest an image that represented Vellee was a daunting task.  After many drafts, color schemes and sleepless nights, you have what you see on the streets.  I keep my other draft designs secretly stashed under my bed for whenever I need a good laugh.