Me, Chef Roy, Eugene and Annie
Last night, Eugene, Annie, Sam and I set out for our latest adventure, to search for the Korean taco truck that's taken LA by storm. After first having heard about it from our favorite panda bear, jU
, we had to see from ourselves what this phenomenon was all about. What could Korean food with a Mexican twist taste like?
We hopped in Eugene's SUV around 11pm and zipped on over to the Brig in Venice to find out. No sooner had we rounded the corner, then we saw a small crowd surrounding a parking lot right outside the local bar. It wasn't the size of the crowd that initially surprised me, because there were only about 20 people, it was the taxi cabs and bicyclers swarming the area. Because at that time of night, it wasn't just the drunken patrons of the Brig chowing down on the tacos, it was the hipsters that were actually seeking out the taco truck like a game of "Where's Waldo."
As we walk to the truck, we're greeted by Chef Roy himself who's warm and inviting. He shares his amazing story with us, how an underground movement that began with a cool idea and a shoestring budget has quickly turned into a cultural phenomenon. How by using social media tools, like a blog and twitter, it would accelerate his growth plans from a few months to a few weeks. And how by reaching out to a strong army of hungry LA bloggers, it would gain him more attention than he could have ever hoped for.
In his engaging ways, he enthusiastically tells us about how he is particularly surprised to see Silver Lake and Downtown LA embracing his idea. Like "Dawn of the Dead" no sooner does he park the truck than do 200-300 people from all walks of life swarm out of the far reaches of these neighborhoods to enjoy his signature Korean short rib tacos and his featured kimchee quesadillas. From hipsters, artists, professionals and students to parents seeking out some tasty late night eats, Roy tells us that it's truly a diverse group of people that seek out his unique fusion food.
And oh how delicious it is! For $2 a pop for a taco and $5 for a burrito, you're getting high quality late night food for an amazing price. Wrapped in soft corn tortillas, the marinated meat is topped with an interesting mix of ingredients - sesame-chili salsa roja, julienned romaine lettuce and cabbage tossed in Korean chili-soy vinaigrette, cilantro-green onion-lime relish, crushed sesame seeds, and sea salt. The flavors are strong and robust, complicated and delicious. You begin to understand why the lines go hundreds deep because there's nothing quite like the taste of Korean Mexican tacos.
We also try out the quesadilla which has inside of it kimchee, cheddar, and jack cheese and is drizzled with sesame seeds and a spicy red sauce. The kimchee taste wasn't overpowering in any way, in fact it was a nice ratio of cheese to kimchee. Definitely a must try for those that are a bit more adventurous.
Now two quick facts:
1. The high quality meat you’re eating is from Premier Meats - chicken, short rib and pork that’s gracing the tables of high end establishments such as AOC, Lucques, Providence, Animal.
2. Top of his class at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Roy started out cooking at Le Bernardin in New York and was the only American to ever work in Iron Chef Michiba’s kitchen. Of his most recent endeavors, he has worked as the chef de cuisine at the Beverly Hilton, executive chef at Trader Vic’s, and opened Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen in Century City.
Finally, the pictures!
The truck outside the Brig
Hipsters hanging outside the truck
Taxi cabs for the eat-and-runners
The Kimchee Quesadilla
The Pork, Chicken and Meat Tacos
Find out where the truck is next by checking out their blog
or following them on twitter.
Tonight from 10PM - 2:15AM they'll be at The Brig again at Abbot Kinney and Palm in Venice.
And good luck to you, Kogi BBQ! Hope to see more of you all around town. Go on and spread the kimchi love!