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Meet Ngoc Trung and Chef Polo of The Lemongrass Shack

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ngoc Trung and Chef Polo.

Ngoc and Chef Polo, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Chef Polo brings home recipes from traditional Cambodian cuisine which he learned to make from his mother. Coming to the valley, we both noticed there were many options for southeast Asian foods but barely any from Cambodia. We decided to create the first Cambodian food truck in the valley.

We are passionate about our food and feel that if we did not try to bring this to our community we may see these amazing dishes disappear with our older generation. Started out simply wanting to share our tradition and cuisine with our surrounding communities.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Being the first Cambodian food truck wasn’t easy. The biggest challenge is introducing our food to the public. There was only a small percentage of people in Arizona that knew what Cambodian cuisine was. We conquered that obstacle by handing out samples…. lots of samples! Once people had the samples and realize that it’s nothing weird but just simply great food we started to build a following. Now almost 2 years in we are happy to say that people are hunting us down and actually looking to try our food.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Lemongrass Shack story. Tell us more about the business.
We are family owned and operated. We specialize in savory meat dishes paired with fluffy steam rice and unique salads that incorporates our main spices such as lemongrass, galanga, tamarind and kaffir lime leaf. All spices that are staples in Cambodian cooking. We are proud to be able to have a mobile platform, unlike traditional brick and mortar that allows us to constantly change our menu. This also allows us to introduce a new traditional dish to people everywhere in the valley with the changing season. Such as stir-fry in the summer and comforting stews in the winter.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Being that we started at the beginning of the hardest time of year for food trucks. Right when the valley temperatures were heating up and regular truckers where closing up for the summer heat. We somehow still grinded thru. Doing so definitely made us more resilient. We work thru all of our learning curves with hard work and an outpour of support from the food truck community.

We quickly created a name for ourselves and with the help of a few coordinator’s buzz for our food, we were picked up for a short segment on the local news channel that allowed us the validation and exposure to reach out to other customers.

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Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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