Logo for new fusion food truck raises eyebrows

Veggie wraps at Prohibition on King Street. Wade Spees/Staff Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Prohibition’s chef has taken “a brief leave” from the restaurant to focus on his latest enterprise, a food truck specializing in Asian and Mexican street foods.

Stephen Thompson last fall was approached by a culinary tour participant who was struck by the chef’s feel for Eastern flavors. Oscar Hines asked Thompson if he might want to partner on a steamed bun truck. “I said ‘of course’,” Thompson recalls. “I sent him a couple of name ideas and we chose Dashi, which was actually my first restaurant concept in culinary school.”

In addition to buns, Dashi is serving fried rice, noodle bowls, tacos and banh mi sandwiches, all available with a choice of rabbit, duck, pork belly, chicken or vegetable. Sweet Korean pancakes with homemade ice cream are offered for dessert.

“It’s very affordable and the execution of the food is very quick: Three minutes or less per dish,” Thompson says, adding that 90 percent of ingredients are locally sourced.

Also locally-sourced: The truck’s logo, which on Tuesday was posted to Twitter by a dubious @porkandwhiskey. City Paper managing editor Kinsey Giddick, who’s in a Best of Charleston mindset this week, replied “And the award for most offensive logo goes to…”

The logo depicts a man with slants for eyes; a fat moustache; the makings of a Fu Manchu patch and a towering sombrero. Asked to assess the design, San Diego State University professor William Nerriccio, who has written extensively on depictions of Latin Americans in U.S. popular culture, responded via e-mail, “The new logo manages to mashup the classic face of the Sombrero-wearing “Mexican” with what looks like a cross between WWII-era comic Asians and Mickey Rooney from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Nerriccio, author of “Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the ‘Mexican’ in America,” has described stereotypes as a kind of violence. In a book chapter devoted to the cartoon character Speedy Gonzales, he asks, “What does more violence to the possibility of dialogue between diverse communities than these grotesque caricatures?” Still, he declined to rule from afar on whether Dashi’s imagery should be classified as offensive.

“Whether or not said ‘innovative’ logo is offensive or not rests with the eye (and the soul) of the beholder,” he wrote. “Also, the degree of irony being infused into the sign by the owners and creators.”

He concluded, “Have you interviewed the designer?”

Thompson and his friend designed the logo. “I wanted to fuse Latin and Asian cuisine and the logo represents that,” he explains. “It also grabs people’s attention.”

That it does.

Dashi parks in the Morris Sokol lot, 510 King St., on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights; the truck is also scheduled for a concessionaire slot at the Family Circle Cup. For more information, visit dashichs.com.