You’re going to feel like you’ve walked on the set of last year’s uplifting movie Chef, about guys getting in touch with life’s meaty matters via a food truck, when you track down the new Ricewood barbecue truck. They’ve heard the comparison before, but it’s worth digging deeper to read owner Frank Fejeran’s fierce essay at lifeandthyme.com, about his food and family and life choices. You too may end up quitting your job and taking your destiny into your own hands.
That’s what former Ravens Club chef Fejeran did. Teaming up with his brother Gabe Golub, Fejeran created a short, exquisite menu and set humane work hours for their new business: Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. until they run out or 3 p.m., whichever comes first. In May, they started dispensing chow to instantly adoring crowds from their truck parked in the lot behind Morgan & York on Packard.
The brothers have achieved slow-food perfection with a trio of deceptively simple meals in a bowl. The half pound of slow-cooked pork shoulder is sauced and crisped delectably; the half rack of ribs has a complex rub of spices topped with a smear of sauce; and the half pound of brisket comes barely seasoned and buttery tender under its crust. I’d pick any of them over standing prime rib elsewhere.
This is Chamorro-inspired barbecue, reflecting Fejeran’s heritage on the Pacific island of Guam. The meat is accompanied by two big scoops of rice with a robust vinegar-soy-based finadene sauce at your choice of “gringo” or “spicy” heat level (they’re working with White Lotus Farms, which will eventually grow special chilies from Guam). A helping of crunchy marinated cucumbers seals the twelve-bucks-per-bowl deal. Get your food to go or settle in on a picnic table with soda, tea, or Kool-Aid (really).
If you love high-quality smoked meats sauced, spiced, sliced, and served with finesse, Ricewood will have you proselytizing about heaven in a parking lot. The big black truck, smoker, and blackboard menu are bare bones, and that’s likely what your ribs plate will be after you’re finished.
This article has been edited since it was published in the July 2015 Ann Arbor Observer. Ricewood’s ownership has been corrected, and a mistaken description of spicing has been deleted.