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Midtown Sandwich Cart to Start Serving Japanese Street Fare

By Alan Neuhauser | November 15, 2013 9:25am
 Gary Li, owner of the Toast Monster sandwich cart, is planning to turn it into a new cart called Kaiju, serving Japanese street staples such as rice bowls and seaweed-wrapped rice balls.
Toast Monster Cart to Become 'Kaiju'
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MIDTOWN — Midtown's Toast Monster food cart is about to transform.

The soul-food sandwich cart — which has served mac and cheese, grilled chicken parm, and other savory selections between slices of grilled Texas toast since February 2012 — is set to start serving Japanese street staples as early as Monday, and also hopes to open up to other street-food purveyors. 

The new name for the cart is Kaiju, the Japanese word for sea monster.

"Sticking with the monster idea," owner Gary Li, 29, of Jamaica, said with a laugh. "It was just on the top of my head."

The cart will serve rice bowls with steak, chicken, fish or vegetables for $6 to $7, as well as rice balls wrapped in seaweed for $4 to $5 and miso soup for $3, Li said.

"As simple as you get," he explained.

The cart's aesthetic will also match the slimmed-down menu, appearing all white with only its name and menu on display.

"The idea is just to keep it simple," Li said. "Cut to the chase — just food, and this is just a kitchen."

The minimalist displays also serve another function. Li, who cooks during the day, wants to rent his car to other chefs at night, turning it into a "mobile pop-up."

"It's an empty canvas," he said.

Li said he has been in talks with one woman in particular who is considering Mexican or Chinese food for the cart. If a deal moves forward, it could start serving food at night as soon as the start of the new year.

"I wanted to experiment," Li said. "This keeps me moving. Having the different types, it will help."