Hey Joe! Filipino Street Food is serving up traditional Filipino cuisine on the streets of Phoenix. Given the diversity of culture and cuisine, Hey Joe! brings unique flavors that are hard to come by in the valley.
Husband and wife team, Brian and Margita Webb, spent time in her hometown of Lapu-Lapu to take in the culinary wisdom directly from the source. The story behind their name brings a small chuckle, as the fair skinned Brian was constantly berated by the locals shouting “Hey Joe!” to get his attention while studying the culture and cuisine in Lapu-Lapu; thus the inspiration for the name of their food truck endeavor.
I can honestly say, I don’t think I have ever experienced any of the offerings of Filipino cuisine, so this was going to be an adventure for me. I had heard about the Lumpia, which is a staple item on their menu, so of course I knew that was something I should definitely try.
I ordered the Valley Dish, which includes 2 pork lumpia’s, pancit, and rice. The lumpia is basically what most of us would know to be an eggroll. Hey Joe! fills their lumpia’s with local and organic three-ground pork and the traditional staples you would expect to find. It was fried to a perfect golden brown, crispy on the outside, but not too greasy. The lumpia’s provided a great contrast in texture from the crunchiness of each bite, to counter the softness of the rest of the plate. The pancit consisted of thin rice noodles, carrots, celery, red and green bell peppers, and onion. It was stir fried in their special sauce, which was very light and slightly salty. And as with most Asian-influenced cuisine, a heaping scoop of seasoned rice accompanied the meal.
One of the specials of the day was Lechon Kawali, which was pork belly that had been braised for 15 hours and then deep fried prior to service. This was also accompanied by seasoned rice, and pickled vegetables. The pork belly was crispy on the outside, yet perfectly moist inside and absolutely scrumptious. There was a soy-based dipping sauce served with the Lechon Kawali to dip the pork belly in, which added a slight salty-sweetness to the dish, bringing out the wonderful flavors of the pork belly.
Now as if I hadn’t already enjoyed enough food, I was fortunate enough to spend a few moments speaking with Brian. He convinced me to try the Balut, which was hand-written on the menu, with no description. Balut is a special delicacy and definitely has a mental hurdle to overcome if you dare try it; balut is fertilized duck egg. Now, this didn’t fully register with me (probably my mind protecting me from the obscenity that it could dream up), but the duck has started development while in the yolk, thus fertilized egg. I was informed it would take about 15 minutes to prepare, so I waited patiently (and in silent fear of what was to come). First, the egg is boiled for 15 minutes and served still in the shell with vinegar and salt. You tap a hole out of the top of the egg when it arrives and pour in some vinegar, a pinch of salt, and some Sriracha if you like. A few moments later, you tip the egg and suck out the vinegar-salt mixture. Now it’s time to peel the egg and enjoy…if you’re brave enough!
I am confident that Brian and Margita had a few laughs at my expense, as I was absolutely terrified; this was quite a ways out of my comfort zone. The texture of the egg white and remaining yolk was firmer than your standard hardboiled egg, but the moment you get close to the young duck that had started to develop inside you are met by slick and slimy. I just couldn’t stomach the texture or mentally overcome what I knew I was trying to enjoy, even though I tried twice to get a bite down. In all fairness, Brian did say it was something that was acquired and it took him three times before he could successfully consume an entire balut; although now he absolutely loves them!