Austin is pretty well-covered when it comes to Asian food; there are dozens upon dozens of Korean, Japanese, Sichuan, Shangainese, Thai, and Indian joints spanning the city from top to bottom. However, according to Aleksandr Karpets and his Taiwan-born wife Shirley Yang, Taiwanese food is woefully underrepresented.
Enter Song La, the couple’s food truck dedicated exclusively to traditional Taiwanese street food. A year in the offing, the truck will feature pork belly buns, braised pork fried rice, tofu fries, and bian dang, which is essentially a Taiwanese bento box.
"Taiwanese food is heavily influenced by southern Chinese food," says Karpets, who traveled to his wife’s home country to do research and build up his cooking skills. "But because Japan is nearby and controlled it for a while, there is that influence as well."
The pair plan to have Song La up and running by the end of June or early July, and are hoping to serve office parks at lunch time near the truck’s commissary kitchen in north Austin. They are actively seeking options for dinner service.
Yang and Karpets also comprise indie-pop band Into the Grove and Through the Vines, so it's only natural that music is part of its business model. As of now, they're inviting musicians to come play during dinner service on Mondays. "Because it’s hard to make any money as musicians in Austin," says Karpets. "We wanted to give back to that community." Stay tuned for more updates on Song La., and follow on Instagram and Twitter.
— Melanie Haupt