By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
“Two cultures, one food truck. Hawaiian Korean curb cuisine.” This is the motto of Seattle’s newest four-wheeled, food vendor. The Marination Mobile began its maiden voyage into Seattle neighborhoods in June.
The idea of Marination came from Seattleites Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison. It offers a fusion of Hawaiian and Korean marinated meats served mostly in tortillas.
In January 2009, Saxton decided to “take a leap of faith” and leave her career and education to pursue her passion for food. Her idea for sidewalk fare came from her travels around the world, where she frequented street food vendors.
Saxton and Edison were also influenced by the Kogi Truck in Los Angeles — a popular Korean BBQ truck with a rabid following. Many that have experienced the Kogi Truck wished that a similar truck would appear in this area code. As a result, Marination was created.
Saxton, a Hawaiian Korean, and Edison, a Chinese Filipino born in Greece and raised by a Japanese mom, make up Marination Mobile’s founding members. Saxton handles the daily tasks while Edison deals with administrative operations. Since starting, the duo has hired chef Catherine Calleja to serve up the dishes.
In planning the menu for Marination, Saxton says she wanted to “create a menu with some kick.”
The recipes are Saxton originals. Though Saxton does not have a formal culinary background, she prides herself with an education in the “eating industry” — referring to her penchant for good food.
Saxon draws much of Marination’s menu from recipes she recalls using since her youth.
In college, she experimented with different sauces and marinades. Saxton admits to tweaking some of her recipes based on input from her friends and family.
One of the hardest things she has found is quantifying the marinades she uses, since she had been used to mixing without precise measurements.
In making Marination Mobile a reality, Saxton traveled to Los Angeles where a company custom built the Marination Mobile. Far from a stereotypical taco truck, the Marination Mobile is new, clean, has a custom-built ‘pop-up’ window, provides a see-through display case, and operates on a wireless ordering system.
Saxton wanted a business that would be more interactive with the customers where people would not just stand there waiting to order. Hula hoops and jacks are provided by Marination so that customers can interact with each other, and mix and mingle like the sauces that marinate its food..
As far as the actual handle on the road, Saxton says she is in charge at the wheel.
“I love driving this truck,” she said.
With a menu ranging from $2 to $5, Marination’s quick and friendly service offers food for those on a budget and on the run. I had the opportunity to have the spicy pork tacos and Kalbi beef sliders. Both dishes were flavorful and contained the signature slaw that complements the marinated meat.
Reception to Marination’s succulent street meat has been good so far. Saxton says she hopes the success of Marination Mobile will mean that the truck will be traveling to more places over the course of the summer. She also sees her company catering during the winter months.
Marination’s location is posted through Twitter, a social networking tool that enables Marination to contact its “followers” through “tweets” — short text messages — that inform hungry patrons where the truck will be next. The truck currently has more than 1,100 followers.
People can also go to its web site for its whereabouts. Marination currently handles lunchtime foot traffic in the Sodo and Fremont neighborhoods during the week and in West Seattle and Ballard on weekends. ♦
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.