A few months ago we announced the results of the 2013 Best Food Truck Graphic Design contest. The competitors represented most areas of the country and the votes from our readers poured in from across the country. Renny’s Oki Doki out of Tampa, Florida received over 30% of the vote to pull out a victory over the other competitors.
To continue our coverage we spoke with Chef Renny Braga to discuss his his background as well as how he became a food truck owner.
Mobile Cuisine: Please introduce yourself.
Renny Braga: I was born in Iwakuni, Japan to a Portuguese father and Chinese mother. I grew up mostly on Okinawa, Japan. I am a home cook, heavily influenced by my grandmother. My Chinese grandmother lived with us as I was growing up. I would help her cook and learned how to cook from her.
MC: How would you describe yourself and the food you serve?
RB: Myself – hard working, enthusiastic, energetic, friendly. The Food – comforting, “feel good” food.
MC: So what got you started as a food truck vendor?
RB: My passion for the food of Okinawa, where I grew up. I wanted to share that food with the people of the Tampa Bay area. My love of cooking and my wife encouraged me to take the plunge and “go for it!”.
MC: You run Renny’s Oki Doki, please explain the thought process behind it’s name.
RB: Oki Doki – A play on the slang, “okie dokie” and the “Oki” representative of Okinawa. Actually one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mario Barroga came up with the name. We ran a contest with all of our friends and he came up with our favorite.
MC: How do you describe the cuisine you serve from your truck?
RB: We serve Okinawan “feel good” food. Okinawan soba with pork belly is the ultimate comfort food and the star of our truck. Pork broth with authentic Okinawan soba noodles and slices of braised pork belly, garnished with scallion, shoga (pickled red ginger), and togarashi (a Japanese sprinkle of red pepper blend).
We also make our own gyoza (potstickers), yaki niku (skewered, grilled beef), crispy pork belly, shoyu pork, katsu chicken and chuka soba (chilled noodles w/veggies and chicken or tofu). All of our items are typically $6-$8
MC: How did you get your truck and how long did it take to open your service window?
RB: We bought our truck used. It was previously a Colombian food truck. We had to do very little to in the way of equipment to customize the truck for our needs. We just added a flat top in place of grill top.
(It took) About 6 months. We bought the truck in January 2012 and had our first gig on June 22, 2013.
MC: In regards to opening your truck, what are you discovering has been the biggest obstacle or difficulty so far?
RB: Zoning laws restricting operations/parking make it more difficult to set up at will. You have to be invited to set up on private property.
MC: What advice do you have for those that might be thinking about starting their own food truck?
RB: Be ready to work long, hard hours, and sometimes for very little money. Make sure it is your passion or you will burn out quickly.
MC: Best culinary tip for the home cook?
RB: Always taste your food before serving.
MC: Proudest moment as a chef/restaurant owner?
RB: The first day we opened our truck for our first gig. Proudest moment and most nervous!
We would like to thank Renny and once again apologize for the delay in posting this profile. You can find Renny’s Oki Doki on the streets of Tampa.
Rennys Oki Doki
Okinawan Food truck in Tampa, Florida. Okinawan Soba (Ma-san Soba), Yaki Soba, Azama Gyoza, Buta Belly (crispy pork belly), Chuka Soba, Yaki Niku, Katsu. Just follow the noodles!