Wednesday, June 6

inspired by locals: juan from MIHO gastrotruck

all photos courtesy of MIHO gastrotruck

Last week, I was privileged to meet with Juan Miron, co-founder of MIHO Gastrotruck [my favorite place to eat...ever]. Besides making the best food [again...ever], it was a particularly special meeting because Juan is essentially my idol and role model, a local celebrity, if you will. I was probably more excited to talk with him than if I ever in a million years had the chance to chat with Johnny Depp...or someone like that. I have been a ridiculously huge fan of MIHO for years and despite Juan's growing business with several new projects in the works, he happily agreed to meet me for a beer [Societe The Apprentice] and we chatted food and business for a good hour and a half. Best. Day. Ever.

How did MIHO Gastrotruck begin?
My wife [Farra] and I met in college at explored our passion for farm-to-table food. We would host underground beer dinners as a creative outlet.We charged people just to break even but it would include four courses and beer pairings and was more more like a six hour party where people would come hangout out and sample cheese and meat boards and 10 or so beers and special kegs. We presented it like a pop up restaurant in the living and dining room of a house with white linen silverware and glassware. Kevin [co-owner] and I met in 2008 working at The Linkery and when we told him about the dinners, he was in.

[Umm... can I do that? Who's with me?]

You mentioned that you worked at Starbucks for a while. How did you decide to up and leave a stable job with benefits in order to follow your dream for MIHO?
I left Starbucks and just decided to go and work with no bar tender experience, I just moved up. It was fun to be in the night life, getting to taste beer, wine and good food. It was nice meeting people and then going out with them until 2 or 3 a.m. and not waking til 10 a.m. I didn’t worry about it. I just hoped something would work out.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when starting your business?
Money. We took out a personal loan. It was a big risk, but it was fun. We worked for three months, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at my house on a business plan and then worked at The Linkery at night to raise capital We used to say whenever we launched a truck and it's super sunny and we don’t feel like cooking…we'll just go to the beach and not cook!

How has MIHO evolved over the years?
The menu used to change every two weeks but it was cost restrictive and challenging. The menu has always been inspired by international street food sourced from local farms.

What were the original menu items?
A harissa burger [grass fed beef, caramelized onion, bib leaf lettuce, harissa aioli and a bun] as well as chicken banh mi, tofu banh mi, cochinita bebil, Yucatan slowly grazed tacos, which we're bringing back during anniversary week, salad and fries.

Currently, what is your long-term goal for MIHO?
Our biggest goal is to tap into traditional catering without the truck. We get a lot of truck catering and we really want to establish MIHO as a food entity and not just a food truck.

[MIHO will most definitely be catering my wedding. Nom.]

Your truck is pretty, your food is always presented beautifully and all MIHO-related stuff just looks so....good! What is your secret?
Kevin and I are both into fashion,music and design and we wanted to incorporate that into our product. We didn't see ourselves slinging food off of a truck but creating a "MIHO Experience..." like you're listening to music, you have eye candy, you get to know the staff and most importantly you get there a break from everyday life.

Where does "MIHO" come from? I always thought it was a reference to "my son" [hijo] in Spanish.
You're sort of right, but it's mostly a fusion of me and Kevin's last names [MIron/HO]

So where do foodies like you go out for dinner?
I love El Take It Easy, their fried oysters with peach oil sauce and fried ham or their fish tacos with kimchi and chevre OR their carnitas tacos. Plus they have amazing cocktails. They get credit they deserve. They're putting out Baja cuisine, which makes sense with the TJ and Ensenada influences here. I also like Starlite's brunch, Jayne's Gastropub, Farmhouse Café and Gabardine [Chef Chad White is amazing].

What about food trucks? Who does a good job?
Neither of us have ever eaten at another food truck in San Diego!

"We're not out for making money…. but we want to watch people enjoying the product and inspiration." 
Juan Miron 
Co-Owner of MIHO Gastrotruck

{Stay tuned for MIHO Gastrotruck's anniversary the week of June 18 for special menu items
and new and exciting project announcements!}


Robyn said...

mmm-so hungry now

Shannon said...

The food looks so good! You're making my tummy grumble.

Dilan Dilir said...

such a lovely post! it looks tasty :D

Allie said...

oh it sure is! if you're ever in san diego you must check miho out!

Meagan Murtagh said...