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Fat Kid Food Co. finds joy in putting 'crazy stuff together'

It would be easy to pigeonhole a new Medford food truck’s fare as “fat kid-stoner-cheat day-hangover” munchies.

That’s a genre described by Chaz McKenna, co-owner of Fat Kid Food Co. It’s tongue-in-cheek, which McKenna can pull off, given his culinary credentials.

A former partner in Medford’s Jefferson Spirits, McKenna also assisted with opening Ashland’s Sakana Co. He served as executive chef of Ashland’s Alchemy after getting his feet wet at the Jacksonville Inn. He and wife Kalea McKenna unveiled Fat Kid Food Co. when the doors had slammed shut on so many brick-and-mortar establishments statewide.

Procuring his truck early this year, McKenna put the pedal to the metal readying it for service by the first week of April. Now he and his crew are poised within a few weeks to add a Fat Kid Food trailer to their local operation and unveil a sister truck in Arcata, Calif.

“I want to be everywhere,” says McKenna.

And Fat Kid Food definitely gets around. Its regular spot is south Medford’s D&S Harley-Davidson for midweek and weekend lunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Friday, crowds at Medford’s Crater Lake Ford clamor for Fat Kid Food. Medford Rogues games bring the truck to Harry & David Field in Medford. And Medford’s Inn at the Commons recently booked Fat Kid Food for guests enjoying its “party patio.”

That’s where I finally caught up with Fat Kid Food’s street noodles and “unicorn poke” after weeks of tracking the truck’s movements on Instagram. It’s not often that food trucks translate to dining destinations — they’re largely about convenience — but McKenna’s rotating menu had piqued my interest enough to warrant an evening excursion.

I knew my sister would want the poke ($13), a riff on sushi-grade ahi dressed with Korean barbecue sauce and guacamole, garnished with cabbage, cilantro and scallions, scooped into a waffle cone. Yes, the kind that typically conveys ice cream.

That dish decided, it only remained to debate the merits of pork belly fried rice ($12) versus “street noodles” ($10). Neither of us were in the mood for a burger, which numbered two types on the evening’s menu. And the Korean short rib burrito ($13), likewise, was more meat than we craved as a companion to our blackberry mojitos prepared by Inn at the Commons.

Throwing caution to the wind, we ordered both starches: rice and noodles, each seasoned with Korean barbecue sauce and finished with fried wontons. McKenna’s model does entail multiple uses of a single ingredient, which is why guacamole can be had on most Fat Kid Food items. It’s a smart use of space on a food truck and does double duty between Latin- and Asian-inspired dishes.

Indeed, McKenna has no qualms about “mashing up” Mexican and American foods with Pacific Rim influences and plenty of irreverence. Fat Kid Food’s signature dish for several weeks this summer was the “Krabby Patty,” a burger layered with a fried softshell crab, fried garlic, sake sweet pickles, spicy aioli and American cheese.

I thought McKenna stole the concept from Sakana, the only restaurant menu I’d seen with a softshell crab sandwiched between a burger patty and buns. Come to find out, he originated it in homage to Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants,” who attended Humboldt State University.

“We’re just trying to have fun and not take things too serious,” says McKenna.

A burger — for Fat Kid Food’s uninitiated — is designated on its menu as a “smash.”

That’s short for smash burger, industry parlance for smashing a patty, using a thin-bladed spatula, onto a searing-hot flat top.

The one item that’s never left Fat Kid Food’s menu is the Cherry Street smash, a basic burger with secret sauce on a brioche bun, named for Medford’s Cherry Street Meats.

There’s also the elote smash, the sumo smash, the aloha smash, the spicy blue smash, the Crater Lake smash, the “hot mama” smash and any number of variations. But let’s not forget about the “Sunday fun day hangover smash,” served between two rainbow-sprinkle doughnuts.

Such an unholy combination could have coerced my sister and me into ordering a burger. But a sweet surprise accompanied our unicorn poke, propped up in a Chinese food takeout container by a miniature bag of animal cookies.

The slightly sugary, crispy cone complemented the fish, but I wished for a bit more sauce, namely the Japanese mayonnaise.

While the poke offered a big portion of protein, the fried rice seemed light on pork belly. I could certainly taste it but wasn’t sure if I could decipher a chunk amid the sweet peppers, cabbage and chipotle aioli. The dish was supremely savory, though, with an addictive quality that compelled us to polish it off long after our appetites were sated.

Duplicating some of the fried rice’s flavors, the street noodles are a versatile canvas that Fat Kid Food occasionally enhances with Thai chicken or spicy shrimp. The guacamole lent richness to this meat-free version of yakisoba. And the “crunchy goodness” added an essential textural component.

But who am I kidding? This is guilty pleasure consumption. Don’t overthink the ingredients, the preparation and definitely not the calories.

You eat it because you can — because the Fat Kid Food creed, according to McKenna, is to “put crazy stuff together and see what happens.”

Where to find them

Follow Fat Kid Food Co. and see the day’s menu on Instagram @fatkidfoodco. The truck is closed Mondays.

The Fat Kid Food Co.’s “Sunday fun day hangover smash,” shown at the food truck’s usual hangout at Medford Rogues’s games, sandwiches a burger between rainbow sprinkle doughnuts. (Submitted photo)