Vendor Spotlight: Jicama NYC

Jicama Flower Spring Roll

Rarely can you find an eatery that bases its entire concept on a single vegetable. Jicama NYC is a unique example of the culinary inspiration that chef Jesse Dann experienced during his journeys through Mexico. From this Mexican root vegetable, he has created a fresh and imaginative menu that showcases his own spin on California street food. On your trip to Broadway Bites, don’t miss out on their comforting soups, raw spring rolls, Mexican drinking chocolate, and jicama tacos!

We spoke with Jesse Dann, owner of Jicama NYC, about the journey that led him to Broadway Bites.

1. Why did you choose to dedicate your entire restaurant concept around jicama?

I was inspired by the vegetable Jicama after spending many months on a culinary journey through Mexico. In central and south Mexico, it’s a staple ingredient used in salads but more particularly used as a refreshing snack served with lime and chili. I fell in love with the refreshing effect it had on me in the extreme hot weather. It was there that I came up with the idea of a jicama taco, combining this crunchy, reviving flavor with light proteins like fish and pork. I thought of slicing it very thinly in a circular manner and using it as a taco shell in place of the flour based tortilla as a healthy, gluten-free and light variation on the traditional taco.

2. How did you approach planning the menu and developing dishes that incorporated jicama?

I came up with the idea and name of my company Jicama during this trip in Mexico and decided to have these tacos become my signature dishes, hence the name Jicama. The Jicama taco along with the Tropical taco are the sole dishes on my menu that incorporate Jicama. The tropical taco also uses the jicama shell but with a tropical fruit mix on top, including jackfruit, mango, papaya and kiwi with chili, lime and cilantro to top it off.

While the other dishes on the menu do not include jicama, they too incorporate gluten-free options with light, refreshing taste. All of my menu items are either roasted, steamed or served raw. This is the essence of Jicama NYC’s menu: light, not fried and cooked in a healthy non-oil or fat based method. The flower spring roll, our top seller, consists entirely of raw vegetables with rice noodles wrapped in a thin rice paper. People expect it to be fried, but thats not happening at Jicama.

3. Because the menu revolves around a single ingredient, how do you balance meeting customer expectations while keeping the menu fresh and exciting to you?

The menu is always expanding, and I love transcending people’s expectations by creating healthier variations. Our spring rolls use edible flowers, our corn tortilla tacos are served on blue tortillas and our jicama tacos on a slice of jicama. I always try to add dishes that have a “twist factor” to keep people interested and curious. My major culinary goal is to keep people curious with what they are eating and be willing to mix it up.

4. What does Broadway Bites mean to Jicama NYC?

Broadway Bites is an amazing opportunity for Jicama NYC because it is our first pop-up location. We are so happy to have the opportunity to work with UrbanSpace to help expand our business and spread our reach. So far our business has been based on 2 day festivals and catering, so Broadway Bites is our opportunity to create a customer base and spread the word as we plan to open a brick and mortar in the near future.

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