With the rise in popularity of the Street Food Carts in San Francisco, funsherpa decided to track down the infamous Adobo Hobo for our next feature. The Adobo Hobo hangs out around the Mission area or around Dolores park, pushing his cart and serving up some lip smacking Adobo. His healthier take on a traditional Filipino dish proves that healthier does not mean less tasty. After meeting him in the Eat.Real.Fest last Aug 30 in Oakland, the Adobo Hobo shares with us his story, experiences, but unfortunately not his secret ingredient…
F: Adobo is a popular Filipino dish – who taught you how to cook it?
AH: My mother taught me how to cook adobo years ago. Before I left for college at Fresno State, I made sure I learned to make a number of Filipino dishes so I was able to have home cooking away from home. As my mother being the best cook amongst her siblings, I am fortunate enough to learn from the best. My brother’s a pretty damn good cook too.
F: What is Adobo to you?
AH: Adobo to me is a dish that is a great go to meal if I’m limited with time and ingredients. It’s easy to prepare and always seems to be readily available on the stove top of one of my Filipino friend’s home. Just can’t seem to go wrong with adobo. Plus it’s made a bunch of different ways, so there’s always an element of surprise at every household.
F: Kindly narrate the night the Adobo Hobo idea was born.
AH: It actually happened really fast. I was at home cooking when Ed and Amy, members of the Adobohobo Camp, walks in after visiting the creme brulee man and suggests we do a cart and give it a try. As the primary cook of the household, they really wanted me to be a huge part of the project and I thought it would be great and fun idea to try it out. We brainstormed on all kinds of dishes to put out and one of the roomates, Tina, suggested I make adobo. It made so much sense due to its ability to keep well and the ability to make large quantities of adobo, we had to roll with it. One week later on August 1st, we were out on the street selling at Dolores Park on Movie night.
F: Why did you choose to go for “healthier adobo”?
AH: I chose to go a little bit healthier because I have high cholesterol and I’ve been looking for ways to eat healthier. I’ve also noticed a lot of my Filipino friends have parents or aunts and uncles developing health issues related to their diet, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol amongst other things, so I wanted to show everyone it’s possible to alter the recipe and still have a delicious meal. I use a combination of full bodied soy sauce and low sodium soy sauce to cut the sodium content and remove the skin the chicken legs prior to cooking. To finish off the “healthier” adobo, I skim the fat off the top of the finished produce. I’ve been talking to Mandy, of @Wholesomebakery another cart with vegan delights, and she mentioned a few other options I can use to have a healthier diet. Thanks Mandy.
F: What’s your secret ingredient?
AH: Sorry folks… Gotta keep that one to myself.
F: If the Adobo Hobo is Superman, who is the Clark Kent behind the AdoboHobo? i.e. What is your day job
AH: During the day, I’m a realtor at United Brokers Real Estate in San Leandro. They’re very supportive of The Adobohobo and even had me cater the last office meeting we had and boy did they love it. The realtors there are some of the best people I’ve ever worked with and for.
As a realtor, I have the flexibility of creating my own schedule and it allows me to do the things I need to do to make the Adobo Hobo happen like shopping, prepping, and cooking. Being in the street and selling is the easy glamorous part of the whole thing. There is a lot of hard work involved in making this happen, but the positive feedback and reactions to my cooking makes it worth it.
F: As the Adobo Hobo, I’m sure you’ve had some interesting or strange experiences. Can you share some anecdote/s of your interesting experiences as the AdoboHobo?
AH: I guess the attention and press is pretty strange and new to me. One day, GMA a Filipino network, was at the house filming me prepare and cook the adobo when I get a call from John from SF Foodie to do a quick phone interview. That was pretty weird. I also used to get a little nervous the first few times when I’d hear sirens near by because I’d think they were there to shut me down. Turns out, they were only fire trucks and ambulances doing their jobs. I remember after being used to the sirens, I played a little joke on some of the other carts that were out with us one Sunday. I heard sirens and yelled out, “Pack it up folks!!! They’re shuttin us down!!!” Everyone looked bummed out and I started busting out laughing. I thought it was pretty funny…
I’m glad everyone did too.
F: If there were one person who you’d say served as the biggest inspiration for the Adobo Hobo who would it be?
AH: The one person I’d say is the biggest inspiration for Jason, rather than the Adobo Hobo, is my pops. He came to this country with 2 pairs of jeans and 7 bucks… Actually he got on the plane with 14, but met someone who needed 7 bucks to get on a train to Delano so he hooked it up. Since then he’s had to endure so much to get to where he is today. He now owns several properties in 2 states and 2 countries and still maintains a very simple, humble lifestyle. Pops always has something to say, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but he always gives me the freedom to make my own decision. I remember over 10 years ago, he used to tell me some old man from Minnesota once told him, “If you plan to do your own business, only go with shelter, food, and clothing.” Pops still tells me that from time to time. Two out of three ain’t that bad huh? He always taught me to not be afraid of failing. Just learn from it and get back up. I’m still trying to figure things out for myself, but I guess we all are.
F: How long have you been based in the Bay Area?
AH: I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I’ve lived in Oakland, Alameda, mostly in San Lorenzo, and now in Hayward. So I guess you can say I’ve lived in a good portion of the East Bay. I did live in Fresno for five and a half years for college, but I had to come back home.
F: Do you have a specific plan for your AdoboHobo locations or do you just find a spot you like that day?
AH: It really depends. Most of the time, there is a spot planned out and we won’t announce it until the day of, and sometimes the location is discovered the day of. Lately we’ve been teaming up with other carts and the location is always planned when we do team up.
F: What are your thoughts on the sudden rise of popularity of the FoodCart scene in San Francisco? Do you think it’s a fad that will wear off, or will it be here to stay for good?
AH: Well nothing lasts forever, and I don’t think this is just a fad. I’d like to see what happens during and after the winter season and see if we can still operate and be as successful as we all have these past few months. I love the popularity of the FoodCart scene here and I really hope it does stay for good, but that’s just my wishful thinking. I’m a big fan and very happy to be a part of the scene. I’ve been able to meet a lot of really cool, down to earth people who share the same passion for food as I. Folks like Roger of @soulcocina, really inspire me to keep on doing what I’m doing and learning different cuisines. He’s a cool dude.
F: If you weren’t limited by time, experience, or money, what type of food cart would you create?
AH: I’m actually very pleased with the operation we’re running right now, but if I weren’t limited by those factors, I’d probably have a catering truck. Part of the fun of this whole thing is being in front of the customers and the ability to interact and receive feedback, positive or negative, is what keeps me going. I do have ideas of where all this may go in the future, but I have to keep that under wraps for now.
F: When you aren’t pushing the AdoboHobo cart, where does the Adobo Hobo hang out in the Bay area to have fun?
AH: It really depends on my mood. I’m a pretty chill dude that likes to be outdoors.
I really enjoy outdoor recreation like hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, camping, snowboarding, and I really want to get into kayaking. I’m a big fan of music and I’m always blasting it in the morning while getting ready. Sorry roommates… I also like to go out at night and have a or two at a bar or lounge. Not so much into the club scene anymore, but I’ll still go if it’s for a special occasion. I really enjoy being around my nephew, Joel, and niece, Carmen. Kids are fun and seem to take away day to day stress and worries. Other than that, I just like to keep things simple.
F: Any favorite Restaurants you could share with us?
AH: I have a bunch, but let me throw out a few… Brazil Cafe in Berkeley, CA has some tasty Brazilian food. Bakesale Bettys in Oakland has awesome fried chicken sandwiches. There’s this Indian restaurant in Hayward called “My Favorite Indian Restaurant” is probably my favorite Indian restaurant. Taqueria Guadalajara on E. 14th in San Leandro, CA has some great Mexican food. The meat there is what makes the place special. I have so much more, but I’ll end it with Pho Hoa Ty. One location in Hayward and one in Oakland. Oh man, does this hit the spot when I’m craving some of that pho. One thing all these restaurants have in common is they’re all small, cheap, and local establishments that I frequent, and you should too if you’re in the area.