Monday 26 March, 2012

Kogi Truck: What The Fuss?

KogiShortribTaco

ORIGINALLY POSTED 9/18/2009

Koji truck, Arco-adjacent

Koji truck, Arco-adjacent

I admit I have been overdue to check out Koji BBQ, the gourmet mexikorean fusion “taco truck” that has sparked a mini-trend in LA (Portland, OR apparently already has a very strong gourmet truck food scene, so don’t feel too special, El Lay). To be honest, Korean isn’t one of my favorite cuisines, so it didn’t top my to-do list. But when my assistant informed me the truck would be parked mere blocks from my house in hipster-foodburg Eagle Rock, I had to succumb.

0918092003aSurprisingly the line was not as long as one would find at Pink’s…but ordering moved slow. You would think people coming to this truck would know what to expect (there aren’t that many choices anyway). This place needs a soup Nazi. But I digress.

I ordered the short rib taco. That’s right, one. It’s their signature, and I wanted my first trip here to have a certain purity: either this one item would sell me, or not. Oh, also, like a dummy, I forgot to bring much cash. That might have had something to do with it. Anyway, after waiting a good 15 minutes to order, my taco came fairly quickly, after less than another 10 minutes (second gripe: people, when you’re waiting to hear your name being called for your order, why are you walking down the block, Victor? Why are you talking with your friends while the woman is shouting out for you, Amy? Just wondering.)

Koji BBQ's legendary Short Rib taco credit: EC Gladstone

Koji BBQ's legendary Short Rib taco credit: EC Gladstone

Here it is. At 2 dollars, it's not cheap for a street taco, but it’s a fairly healthy portion. I expected shredded short rib meat—in fact, it’s kind of diced here, not far from Mexican carne asada (though that’s made with flank usually). One bite, even one sniff, to be honest, and I’m sold. Resembing Thai more than Korean, in the balanced mélange of flavors, the well marinated beef is tossed with white and spring onions and at least one kind of citrus and cabbage. It’s savory, sweet, acidic and crunchy in every bite, as satisfying an experience as you could expect at the highest gourmet levels. The tortillas are not much more than a delivery system, more neutral even then say, a spring roll wrapper, the corn nicely supporting the other flavors. Though I didn’t get the sense these were fresh made, they were firm enough to not fall apart.

Next time, I’ll get it as a burrito. And maybe some of those sliders, they must be popular for a reason.

Kogibbq.com or twitter: @kogibbq