Justin Yap grew up in the North Shore village, the son of grocery store owners, and left home to study culinary arts at the Nova Scotia Community College in Halifax. He worked at various restaurants and establishments in Halifax and Ontario before coming home this spring.
Now at 28 he has opened the Route 6 Food Truck out of a little white van parked on the side of the highway through Tatamagouche, which is, of course, Route 6.
“I’m a young chef with ideas – working in all those restaurants gives you an idea how to run a restaurant, and to be honest I was sick and tired of working for other people,” says Yap. “It feels great to be here in Tatamagouche. I know half the people in town and there are also a lot of new people. This is a really friendly town so we can’t go wrong.”
The young chef sources as much of his ingredients locally as possible and makes his sauces and seasonings from scratch.
He gets his pork from the Ebbets Meadow Brook Farm in Tatamagouche, he gets his white bread and Kaiser rolls from the Country Bread Basket on Brule Point, his vegan bread comes from the Red Knot Bakery in Truro, and he gets green pea shoots, kale and spinach from North of Nuttby on Spiddle Hill. In his BBQ sauce he uses beer from Tatamagouche Brewing just up the street.
“There is quite a bit of labour in making everything from scratch but this is what I love to do – I love making people happy,” he said.
Yap keeps the menu simple at just five items but plans to switch the lineup regularly.
He tries to cover different kinds of protein in his sandwiches, meaning he usually offers a beef, a chicken, a pork plus a vegetarian and a vegan option. He also has gluten free bread if requested.
“A small menu is easier for us, but we keep it varied by changing it,” says Yap. “We also do some fusion cooking and some more regular sandwiches.”
For the grand opening he made lemon grass braised beef with cucumber, tomato and a coconut sauce but they also had regular pulled pork with chipotle slaw.
“We’re trying to go a little gourmet, the Smoking Jane is basically a club sandwich but it has spinach and avocado,” says Yap. “We do kettle chips, we hand slice them and fry them.”
Yap opened up the Saturday of the Victoria Day weekend and sold more sandwiches than expected.
“It was actually pretty cold on the truck but we had a good turnout: we sold a couple hundred sandwiches overall for the weekend,” he said. “I thought it would have been less in a small town like Tatamagouche.”
Yap is also booked into events around northern Nova Scotia this summer. He’ll be at the big Food Truck Rally at MacQuarries in Truro on June 22, he’ll be at River John Days and Read by the Sea in River John and he’ll be parked in front of Tatamagouche Brewing for their Third Birthday Party. He’ll also be parking in front of the craft brewery every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Yap is also open to catering events in the area as well.
If you’re curious where the Route 6 Food Truck is at any given time, you can check on the Street Food app at http://streetfoodapp.com/halifax/route-6.
Sample menu for the Route 6 Food Truck
Matty Burger: beef patty, smoked cheddar, bacon, spinach and tomato jam with a grainy Dijon mayo
Smoking Jane: smoked chicken, tomato, spinach, avocado and bacon with a sriracha
Pulled pork with chipotle slaw and BBQ sauce made with Tatabrew
Barbara Ann: grilled cheese with basil, pesto, smoked tomato and mozza
Viva la Vegan: vegan bread, tabouli, cucumber, smoked tomato and beetroot hummus, avocado and pea shoots