There seems to be no limit to what kind of food can be prepared on a truck. While mobile operations might traditionally have been associated with hot dogs, tacos, and other hand foods, chefs and entrepreneurs seem to thrive on finding ways to prepare items like pizzas or lobster rolls in the cramped space of a kitchen on wheels. Along Central Avenue, EZbachi has created its own niche with a food truck version of teppanyaki, the Japanese method of hot iron plate cooking that is a longstanding, if somewhat Americanized, tradition at chains like Benihana.
EZbachi’s food trucks operate at multiple locations through the metropolitan area, but the location at Central and Mohave, half a mile south of the light rail station currently under construction at Buckeye/Central, appears to be the headquarters of the operation. Staff routinely traverse between the truck parked there and the adjacent building where supplies are kept. Although the structure looks like it’s had years of neglect, it is tempting to imagine it one day transformed into a permanent location should EZbachi ever decide to make that transition.
The current situation, however, is for guests to order from an outdoor table next to the truck and then take their order to go or enjoy it at one of five picnic tables under a nearby canopy. When the weather is sunny, the cloth’s red color, along with the complementary hue of the wooden tables, can create an impression of eating on Mars, but the shade is most appreciated. All orders are packaged to go, regardless of where they’re going to be consumed. Online pre-ordering is offered for convenience, but it seems to be out of order as often as it is working.
Instead, customers are usually better off arriving on site, studying the laminated menus at the table, and then waiting a short while for the food to be prepared. The standard menu offers a spectrum of grilled meat dishes with some slight Asian influences. For food truck fare, it may seem pricey, but it’s important to remember that ingredients like filet mignon, shrimp, and even lobster are not typically associated with low prices and probably shouldn’t be. The best midday meal values can be found on a lunch menu with a variety of bowls that come with a drink.
The meat choices are chicken, beef, salmon, shrimp, scallops, and lobster. Each one is featured on its own in various sauces, as well as in combinations like the EZ Trio, a lunch bowl featuring filet mignon, chicken, and shrimp, and the EZ Choice, a bigger entree that combines filet, lobster, and shrimp. The menu brags that the latter item is the most popular. At nearly $40, that seems a stretch, but most items are priced a half that level and worth the money for the quality of ingredients and preparation, even if they’re enjoyed at picnic tables with a view of I-17.
The menu features six sauces, sometimes used during cooking and at other times offered as sides for dipping or mixing food. The creamy, slightly hot 666 sauce shows up in the spicy shrimp bowl with grilled crustaceans and vegetables over thick and slippery udon noodles instead of the default starch of fried or white rice. The same sauce is used successfully in the Blazing Chicken with grilled poultry and diced bell peppers. The teriyaki bowls benefit from the familiar sweet and salty flavors of that sauce, as well as a generous dusting of sesame seeds.
Salmon can be prepared in a simple format with minimal seasoning or marinated with teriyaki. Scallops are served in abundance in a grilled format with diced vegetables. The menu offers another presentation with tomato and asparagus, both ingredients have consistently been out of stock when requested over several months. Lobster is served with minced meat inside a hollowed shell and garlic butter. Like many of the larger entrees, it comes with “shrimp appetizers,” really just a few grilled shrimp, but a nice addition to the plate nonetheless.
Surprisingly, there’s no meatless option. The vegetables served with all of the entrees are themselves quite good, and the addition of tofu might provide another protein choice. There’s no dessert, and drinks are limited to bottled sodas and water. The mango iced tea is in stock only about half the time, but it’s a slightly sweet option to be favored when available. Typically, teppanyaki involves a theatrical cooking performance with a chef right in front of customers. In this case, customers need to provide their own entertainment, but the food is still the star.
1713 S. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ 85004
Buckeye/Central Station (under construction)