Any thoughts of Little Rock’s food truck scene dying off will have to be put on hold. Already in the past few weeks, we’ve introduced you to a new mobile cheesecake concept and a new German food truck. Now you can add Japanese cuisine to Little Rock’s food truck lineup. Ocko’s Hibachi Island has been working hard to get its business up and running over the past month and is now on a regular schedule.
Odbayar “Ocko” Ulziibuyan has spent much of his life in Central Arkansas’ Japanese restaurants, working in the food service industry since he was 17 years old. This year, he decided he would start his own business, purchased a truck and got to work on it.
“This truck, I built it from the ground up,” says Ocko. “All the appliances, the grill, everything. There’s about 250 hours of work that went in to getting this truck ready.”
Ocko’s menu is small and simple to start out. Many classics from Japanese hibachi restaurants are here, and everything is served with the ubiquitous fried rice and grilled vegetables. Everything is made fresh to order (the rice is parcooked, then finished on the grill), and I saw no frozen meats or produce during my time in the truck.
But even though the menu might seem familiar at a glance, it’s the execution that I found impressive. My hibachi steak was cooked exactly to my order and served with a special house mustard sauce. That sauce is essential to the overall seasoning of the dish, so I wouldn’t recommend passing on it. I also enjoyed the tempura shrimp, which was lightly crisp and sweet with plenty of fresh seafood taste.
One item I haven’t seen on a menu in Little Rock is the chicken catsu, and after tasting it, I have no idea why it isn’t more common. I’m not the biggest fan of white meat chicken, but Ocko’s preparation on it is pretty perfect. The chicken breast gets dipped in tempura batter, followed by a coat of panko bread crumbs and several minutes in the fryer. The crunch Ocko gets on this chicken is commendable, and the sweet chili and soy sauces go well with it. I predict this will be Ocko’s best seller.
There is also an assortment of classic appetizers here, including some deep fried potstickers that I found really tasty. Oh, and vegetarians are welcome at Ocko’s as well. The menu has two vegetarian entrees, and both can be made vegan.
Right now, Ocko’s doesn’t even have a Facebook page, let alone a website. However, it does have a regular schedule, spending Monday and Wednesday lunches at 6th and Chester, and Tuesday and Thursday lunches at the Arkansas Department of Health on Markham. Ocko’s rotates its Friday setup, though tomorrow you can catch them at Landers McClarty Honda on Colonel Glenn Rd. Call-ahead orders are available by calling 501-940-9735. Check out the menu below.