Epic Eatz’ owner, John Adams, is an experienced chef who loves San Diego and expresses it through his self-described surf cuisine. The colorful truck, which opened in January 2012, serves tempting dishes like Hawaiian ahi poki, fish tacos, local Halibut ceviche, carnitas tortas and teriyaki-yaki tacos. He and his team take care to create fun, new dishes with Mexican, Asian and Polynesian influences using lots of local ingredients. John took the time to answer some questions for SDFT in this interview.
SDFT: What did you do before you had the food truck? Tell us a little about yourself.
JA: I grew up working in the restaurant business, working every position in the industry. At the age of 17, I became sous chef at one of northern California’s best restaurants. I was very involved in the culinary scene until I graduated college and switched gears from food to technology.
After having a very successful career in technology, I joined up with acclaimed restaurateur Taro Arai and opened an 8,600 square foot sushi bar called Mikuni. In 2010, I moved to San Diego as I was intrigued by the food truck scene in LA. After a lot of research, I purchased a truck and started working on a concept for San Diego. I wanted to start something that would be fun and have no boundaries with my food. That’s when I coined the term “San Diego Surf Cuisine” and started Epic Eatz.
What’s your favorite thing about running the business and what is your biggest challenge?
My favorite thing is meeting new people every day. San Diego has really embraced the food truck scene. I meet a lot of wonderful people who get really excited about our food. My biggest challenge is keeping up with the demand. We are turning down a lot of events because we are booked pretty far in advance.
How do you come up with menu items?
I have a great culinary team and we are constantly doing R&D in the kitchen. We create several new dishes a week–first we try them ourselves and if we like them, we run them as a special.
What is the best reaction someone has had to your food?
A lot of people roll their eyes into the back of their heads when they take their first bite. I also get a lot of customers that ask for recipes. I am happy to share our recipes with them. Pleasing people is one of my greatest pleasures when working on the truck. We also like to change things up to keep our regulars satisfied.
What would you say is your most popular item?
Our most popular item is the Spicy Wahoo and Crab Torta. We use fresh crab meat, then we tempura wahoo, then we add avocado, cabbage, tomatoes, lime crema and it’s served on a telera roll.
What is something “off the wall” that you would love to put on your menu but aren’t sure people would go for?
We’ve been playing around with a Sweet and Sour Fish Burrito. It has a lot of Thai flavors, we have some regulars that I’ve been making this for. It’s very different but the flavors explode in your mouth.