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Downtown Food Truck Fridays finishes its fourth summer

Downtown Food Truck Fridays finishes its fourth summer

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With an orange and purple backdrop that is adorned with illustrated bamboo trees and cartoon-like lettering, the Sticky Rice Express food truck may not win awards for subtlety.

But sisters Cami Seng and Loni Banhavong are more interested in authentic Asian cuisine that they are mobile eatery art.

Originally from Laos, Seng and Banhavong started Sticky Rice Express at the end of May.

"This is our first summer and we've been really busy," Seng said, prepping Asian wings, crab rangoon, egg rolls and, of course, sticky rice in a compact kitchen, a few hours before lunch.

"My sister and I love cooking together," Banhavong interjected. "(Owning) a food truck lets us do that."

Sticky Rice Express is just one of the local or regional on-the-go eateries that turn up from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., every Friday, as part of Food Truck Fridays in Pearl Street Park at the intersection of Seventh and Pearl Streets.

This Friday will mark the final Food Truck Friday of the season and, according to Sam Burrish, one of the volunteer organizers, it has been a banner year for the popular event.

"We've been up in both attendance as well as in the number of food trucks," he said. "People are really embracing the concept."

That's certainly true for budding entrepreneurs like Seng and Banhavong, who sell Asian comfort food at Food Truck Fridays as well as the parking lots of various home improvement stores, around the Sioux City Public Museum as well as near the Blue Bunny Ice Cream plant in Le Mars, Iowa.

Mallory Schroeder is simply happy to benefit from Sticky Rice Express' ever-growing footprint.

"Oh, I love Sticky Rice Express plus I love Robles Taqueria (an on-the-go eatery specializing in south-of-the-border tacos, tortas and burritos)," Mallory, a 12-year-old Sioux City girl said. "They're both new (to Food Truck Fridays) this year."

On the other hand, mom Deb Schroeder is a partisan for the potatoes served up at Fries on the Fly, which served kicked-up fries, nachos and choripapas (fried topped with a blanket of white queso and Mexican chorizo).

"We like trying new things," Deb Schroeder said, adding that she, Mallory and many of Mallory's friends come to Food Truck Fridays as often as possible. "This is a lot of fun for us because the food's good."

While the Schroeders enjoy experimenting with food, Benny Maylor is a stickler to tradition.

The 7-year-old Hinton boy insisted a hot dog needs a wiener, ketchup, a bun and that's it.

Wait, no mustard? Uh-uh. Pickle relish? Nada, too green. Onions? Overkill.

Just ketchup, meat and bun," Benny, a soon-to-be Hinton Elementary School first grader said. "Doesn't need anything else."

According to mom Elissa Meylor, Food Truck Fridays is terrific for families with finicky kids.

"There's plenty of choices," she said. "You can always get what you want."

Well, how about a hot lunch with some even hotter jazz? Burrish can help set you up.

Indeed, Food Truck Fridays will ends its 2019 season on a high note ... literally.

In addition to a full lineup of food trucks, Sioux City-based jazz trumpeter Justin Kisor will providing a musical soundtrack suitable for noontime noshing.

This is exactly what Burrish wants Food Truck Fridays to be. 

"Food Truck Fridays is a quality-of-life project that promotes food culture, entrepreneurship and the downtown district," he said. "It allows more people to enjoy downtown in the summertime."

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