The newest Asian-style food truck in Hood River began serving tasty ramen and delicious sandwiches on Sept. 16. The Bestie Bowls food truck was opened by best friends Erin Moore and Don Loop. The two named the food truck after their friendship.
“We’re besties,” said Loop.
“Basically, we are the male and female versions of each other,” added Moore.
Moore grew up in Parkdale and Loop was raised in The Dalles but moved to Hood River in 2000 when he married Moore’s cousin. Moore has been a valley girl through and through. She attended Wy’east Middle School and graduated from Hood River Valley High School in 2007 before moving to Eugene. She also spent three months in southeast Asia — which influenced much of her approach to cooking food.
Aside from Loop’s passion for cooking, he also works construction on the side. Both he and Moore enjoy golfing when they find time to sneak away.
Before deciding to team up, the two managed operations at Stave and Stone Winery in Odell. Loop was the general manager and Moore served as the lead taster for the popular winery. Realizing their fervor for food and their friendship, Loop and Moore made a leap of faith and decided to start a food truck.
“The timing was right, and everything felt good. So we went for it,” said Loop.
They had three months to plan their menu and tinker with recipes before their custom truck was ready. The bright turquoise truck was built in Portland and found a home on the Heights in Hood River. Stationed at the intersection of 12th Street and Brookside Drive, Moore said Bestie Bowls lucked out in finding an accommodating host.
They are open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Moore said their goal is to provide consistency to locals.
“We don’t want to be those trucks who say ‘We’re open till we’re sold out’,” said Moore.
“We prepare everything daily,” added Loop.
On a typical day, Loop and Moore will show up two to three hours before opening to cut, cook and prep everything they will need for the day.
Before they made Bestie Bowls open to the public, they hosted family and friends.
But a few days before anyone could be served, the fridge on the truck stopped working and they lost all the food and roughly nine hours of prep time. Loop and Moore asked everyone to try again a couple days later. With a cold fridge and another opportunity to iron out the kinks, Moore said 60-70 friends and family showed up to support the two friends.
“It ended up going really well,” said Moore.
Bestie Bowls serves Asian-style foods with influences from Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. After Moore graduated high school, she visited the southeastern Asian countries for three months to take cooking courses and travel with friends.
“I got there and I fell in love. The culture is amazing and people are so nice,” said Moore on her first time outside of the United States.
She discovered new recipes, ingredients and influences that she wanted to bring back to the U.S.
“I like to use galangal root now, which I never knew existed,” she said.
Moore uses ingredients like the galangal roots — an herb in the ginger family — Thai cilantro, and kombu — also known as dried kelp — to spice up her dishes.
“It all brings another depth of flavors to the food,” said Moore.
Loop says he hadn’t experienced Asian food quite like that before he met Moore. Between the two of them they would cook specialty dishes for each other and try new things with the food.
Today their menu consists of a Vietnamese-style Bahn Mi sandwich — Moore’s favorite — served with the option of fried pork belly, chicken or crispy tofu, marinated carrots and cucumbers on freshly baked bread with a spicy mayo spread. The miso ramen bowl is perfect for a chilly day. Warm miso broth is served with bok choy, marinated shitake mushrooms and topped with a shoyu egg — which is a soft boiled egg with a runny or jammy yolk. A popular choice for desert are their wonton fried banana slices with nutella.
“If they’re still allowing to-go cocktails in the spring and summertime, we’re gonna apply for our to go cocktail license,” said Moore who was a bartender at 6th Street for a time.
Moore says along with cocktails, an expanded menu is expected soon that will feature special dishes only available for a limited time.
For now, Bestie Bowls will be open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. They are located in the Heights in the Napa Auto Parts parking lot across from the Idlewilde Cemetery. Next time you are in the area, say hello to Erin and Don, who are more than excited to serve you some of the best tasting southeast Asian-style foods.