Meet the Asian American chef behind Huntsville’s hottest food truck

Prepare to have your notion of hotdogs remixed and elevated. The tubular processed meat is primarily linked with dadbod summer season cookout fare, and beer-absorbing ballast at stadium sports and arena concerts. In Albert Toh’s hands even though, the hotdog is a vessel of culinary creative imagination and eyesight. And f—ing tasty.

Toh is the proprietor and chef driving New South Hotdog & Sushi, Huntsville’s hottest food items truck. By transposing sushi’s flash presentation and vivid supporting components to hotdogs, as well as providing properly-executed sushi rolls also, New South does what the best meals vans are likely to do: Give punters tasty and interesting foodstuff that no 1 else (or at the very least no 1 else in that sector) does.

At local gatherings they get the job done, New South typically commands tenting-out-for-Stones-tickets-in-’89 size queues. This kind of was the circumstance at Panoply Competition of the Arts back again in April. Alas, other get the job done stuff beckoned. A handful of months later, I last but not least bought a opportunity to consider New South, at a lowkey midweek celebration at the Huntsville Botanical Backyard.

We eat with our eyes 1st, specially in the Instagram era. I’d viewed pictures of New South’s stuff on the internet, and genuine lifestyle did not disappoint. Refreshing, clever and colorful, all all over.

New South Hotdog & Sushi

New South Hotdog & Sushi’s Volcano Puppy. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

I checked out three ‘dogs and a roll, which seems like a Steven Tyler lyric but is not. New South’s Volcano Pet dog jumps with avocado, bacon, cheddar, refreshing jalapeno, sesame seeds, wasabi mayo and sriracha. Texture for times, 3D-monster-movie sized taste, finished off with some negotiable heat. The Mojito Pet dog with its cilantro, lime, provolone and avocado is the initial hotdog I’ve ever had that could be explained as “refreshing.” Meanwhile on the Crunch Puppy, pork rinds provide the signature adjective, with a supporting forged together with eel sauce, spicy mayo, bacon, avocado and cream cheese.

New South Hotdog & Sushi

New South Hotdog & Sushi’s Mojito Dog. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

In addition to the bold fixings, two important things about all New South scorching canine: One particular, they’re served on a toasted connoisseur hoagie bun in its place of typical problem hotdog bun, so they can bodily aid the ingredients and do not get swampy and drop apart, even as leftovers hrs afterwards and two, Toh only uses quarter-pound Nathan’s hotdogs, resulting in juicy, satisfying eats. Every ‘dog is a meal on to itself.

New South Hotdog & Sushi

New South Hotdog & Sushi’s Crunchy Dog. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

All a few New South hotdogs I attempted have been just seven bucks each individual. It all would make for solid mobile foodstuff value, specially to anyone who’s at any time shelled out $14 for two tacos from a food stuff truck. Other New South hotdogs include a Bama Massive Canine tricked out with pulled pork, slaw and barbecue sauce ($9). A entire menu and extra facts can be identified at newsouthhotdogandsushi.com.

New South Hotdog & Sushi

New South Hotdog & Sushi’s Tiger King Roll. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

Sushi sensible, I tamed the Tiger King Roll ($10), which debuted final spring all over the exact same time as a selected common streaming collection. Thankfully, New South’s Tiger King is a great deal extra tasteful than the notorious zookeeper depicted in Netflix’s “Tiger King.” Tempura shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, crab-ish, crunchy onion, spicy mayo and eel sauce. Crunch situations crunch. I’d be happy to get a roll that seemed and tasted like this from a posh cafe, let by yourself a 12 by 6 trailer pulled powering a truck.

New South Hotdog & Sushi

New South Hotdog & Sushi chef/proprietor Albert Toh. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

About 15 several years back, Albert Toh moved to Huntsville from his native Malaysia to attend faculty. Like lots of university learners he supported himself by functioning in dining places. Gravitating to Asian eateries, like Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese ventures, Toh claims, “I generally had a passion for understanding about sushi.”

Quick forward to a small about two yrs in the past. Now doing the job a stable but soul-crushing job at a college with a 401K, condition pension and the whole 9, Toh understood, “I was just not for that kind of way of living. I had this idea of performing a thing for myself.”

Precisely, he wished to offer hotdogs, for the reason that he assumed he could get artistic with them and also due to the fact hotdogs are not raw, hence less difficult to deal with in a mobile context. He didn’t want to do a hotdog cart, for the reason that of storage and maneuverability issues there. He observed a food items trailer in Kentucky and plunked down 9,000 bucks for it. He’d shortly study the trailer would need substantial updates, such as air flow hood, to be street-meals authorized below.

New South Hotdog & Sushi

New South Hotdog & Sushi’s Albert Toh. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

“Right prior to I started off the truck,” Toh states, “I did a ton of testing. I’d have a style check party at my dwelling, put mad ingredients on hotdogs and have good friends in excess of to attempt them.”

When he launched New South, he started off at a Chevron gasoline station and just hawked hotdogs. “Most of my loved ones and close friends considered I’m outrageous,” Toh suggests. “In Asian tradition, the expectation of us is like, you go overseas to examine and then be in incredibly revered profession. I guess I’m just unique. I usually liked foodstuff.” In man or woman, Toh arrives off as genuinely nice and earnest.

As a boy or girl in Malaysia, his good aunt Cecilia Xia cooked for him pretty much each and every day. “She was the a person the sparked my really like for foods,” Toh states. Because his family members is of Chinese descent, the food stuff he ate in his youth generally mixed cuisines. “Malaysia so multicultural,” he says. “We place things together. We in no way adhere in one particular delicacies, with 1 established of substances.” His loved ones resided on Borneo, an island wherever Toh claims, “the most renowned detail about it are the orangutans.”

Toh’s willingness to crossfade cuisines manifested in New South. His spouse Melizza Toh (yes, her to start with name is constructed with two Zs), makes tips much too. She’s the a person who gave him the idea to set pork rinds on a doggy. “He’s really artistic,” Melizza states. Her favored meal Albert cooks at residence is Korean barbecue brief ribs. Albert credits Melizza, who often assists out on the truck, for staying “super supportive” of his extraordinary profession pivot.

After New South’s 2019 launch, the truck received early excitement following a massive July 4 party at South Huntsville marina Ditto Landing. Toh claims they offered out of foodstuff that day … 2 times. New South menu objects are labor intense for Toh, who prepares each purchase. For instance, sushi-style avocado should be sliced to buy. That can take a small more time. But the care place into presentation pays off on various degrees, including getting self-advertising food stuff, and not just on social media. Additional right away, Toh says they commonly have customers order from the truck following they’ve witnessed other shoppers strolling around with New South meals.

New South Hotdog & Sushi

New South Hotdog & Sushi food truck. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

Outside of common buyers, New South has uncovered enthusiasts in the Huntsville food items neighborhood. Jeremy Esterly is co-owner of downtown fusion restaurant Phat Sammy, and a single of Huntsville most gifted and imaginative chefs.  “Albert is just killing it,” Esterly suggests. “They’re performing good company and individuals are embracing it. A handful of years back, hotdogs and sushi on a meals truck would not have worked in this town at all. But it’s so fantastic and so effectively introduced. Ideally a lot more men and women will abide by Albert’s direct and not just do the similar attempted and correct items more than and around. We want more variety.”

Toh is grateful for enjoy New South has obtained from foodstuff bloggers community (RickyHSV) and over and above (BallNine) and states that is been essential to his business’ development. That may well be so, but as Melizza factors out, with all the time he places in, Albert has manufactured his personal luck. “He’s normally out there,” she states. Most weeks, New South does between eight and 12 appearances, which includes corporate and community gigs. A two-hour service time is really a six-hour affair, as set-up and breakdown each and every get yet another two hours.

New South Hotdog & Sushi

New South Hotdog & Sushi chef/owner Albert Toh and wife Melizza Toh with their a few kids. (Matt Wake/[email protected])

“I have to be out there performing,” suggests Toh, who credits his grandfather, a photojournalist, with inspiring his work ethic. “We form of just take the immigrant strategy to tell the reality: If we have far too a great deal time on our palms, we’re not performing something suitable.” And since he posts the truck’s schedule consistently early each individual 7 days on Facebook, it’s simple for folks to come across him. Employee Matt Sturgis has been with New South about 18 months. “It’s good to do the job someplace that most people loves the food items,” Sturgis suggests. “People will journey to try to eat with us.”

Toh does not have much fascination in scaling New South up to a brick and mortar cafe. “Food trucks are a wild sport,” he says. “And this is what I enjoy about it, unpredictable.” But hardly ever say never. At age 37, Toh feels he has “maybe a few more very good a long time to run a foodstuff truck mainly because the toll on the human body is preposterous.” Besides getting on your toes all that time, like most back-of-home meals gigs, there is also the day by day loading and unloading of ingredients, and lugging all-around machines, like a hefty generator.

Apart from food, Toh’s passions include fishing and seeing blended martial arts. Immediately after a occupied shift with New South, his favourite way to wind down is to come household to Melizza and perform with their a few-yr-previous son and twin just one-yr-aged daughters. “I’m in essence just a straightforward male that is residing an American aspiration proper now,” he suggests. “Even if it is just by advertising hotdogs.”

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Barbara J. Miriam

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