TULALIP — When a guy named Big John hands you a bag of crispy hot fries from Ryan’s REZ-ipes and says, “Take a couple. They’re the best in the world,” you better eat the fries.
That’s just what I did while talking to owner Ryan Gobin, as we stood near his popular food truck at Tulalip Market on a warm fall afternoon. It was way past lunchtime, yet people were still lining up, many of them vying for the prized special: a kalbi steak and shrimp bowl that Guy Fieri would undoubtedly call a trip to Flavortown.
I was lucky to snag one after Gobin yelled, “We’ve got two left!” from his large truck.
Gobin had warned his customers of the bowl’s price increase to $21, but that didn’t seem to faze anyone, and considering it’s the size and weight of a baby, you’re getting at least two servings’ worth. The hefty bowl comprises a bed of jasmine rice piled with sauteed jumbo shrimp on one half, thinly sliced and marinated angus steak on the other, with a zingy lemon slaw to cut through the succulent and savory meat. A zigzag of lemon and sriracha aiolis rounds out the dish.
You’ll usually find a special or two on the menu, like blackened rockfish sandwiches and spicy veggie bowls. Permanent items include cheesy pulled pork tacos ($10 for three), which Gobin has worked and reworked to perfect since he started Ryan’s REZ-ipes seven years ago.
A few important details: Gobin smokes the pork for 13 hours before Wolverining the juicy meat and slapping it into a corn tortilla with loads of pepperjack cheese, barbecue sauce and jalapeño. The corn tortilla’s exterior is covered with cheese that crisps up and browns on the griddle. It’s no surprise these tacos are a bestseller.
You can order the pulled pork in nacho form ($12), as well as the kalbi steak over fries with a sesame ginger slaw and sriracha aioli ($12).
Another favorite: frybread. What had once been a survival food among Indigenous peoples — flour was one of the few commodities provided by the United States government to the Navajo Nation, who invented frybread nearly 160 years ago — is now an integral part of Ryan’s REZ-ipes. Gobin’s aunt taught him how to make frybread when he was younger, but the Tulalip Tribal member “couldn’t get it as she did.” So he spent more than a year perfecting the round, fried bread until it was fluffy and sweet, just like Hawaiian bread.
Gobin’s learned knowledge and constant tweaks let him play around with the basics. Take his recent special, pumpkin fry bread tossed in a warm cinnamon spice mix, then topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a caramel drizzle. Swoon.
Diehard fans like Big John will tell you two things: Ryan’s REZ-ipes is worth the consistently long lines, and the food truck/catering business deserves all the hype it can get (even if that means an extra long wait). People tell Gobin they drive from eastern Washington, California and Canada to eat his food: “From a different country!” he said, still surprised at how far people are willing to travel for his food.
Ryan’s REZ-ipes began with a food trailer, then a food truck before Gobin finally graduated to a larger blue truck, now emblazoned with a logo designed by his uncle. The salmon and eagle logo represents his Indian name, yəx̌ʷəlaʔ siʔab.
“It means Honorable Eagle,” Gobin said. “And I come from the Salmon family. So in my logo, there’s a salmon and an eagle.”
The name Ryan’s REZ-ipes, by the way, came about from a Facebook competition that helped Gobin decide what to call his business. The name represents where he comes from and the community he continues to serve. Every employee on his truck wants to eventually own a food truck or trailer, so Gobin looks at his mobile kitchen as a training ground for future business owners.
Gobin was a police officer for a decade prior, as evidenced by a group of Tulalip Tribal Police Department officers who stopped by the food truck to catch up with him.
And yes, some of Gobin’s biggest food truck fans are people he’d arrested when he was an officer — “And they still love me because I treated everybody how I would want to be treated,” he said.
After leaving the law enforcement field, he asked himself, “How do I continue serving the community, just not as a cop? What am I passionate about?”
“Native Americans, we love food. It’s part of our gatherings and it’s everything that has to do with us,” Gobin said. “Whenever I cooked, it made me feel better because I made people happier doing it. And I’m still serving my own community.”
If you go
For up-to-date schedules on where to find Ryan’s REZ-ipes, follow them on Facebook: facebook.com/ryansrezipes
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