Like any Friday at 11:00 in the afternoon, I am already thinking about what food I am going to eat for lunch. So what does any good foodie do when he has a hankering for a Friday afternoon guilty food pleasure? The answer, scour social media for food truck met ups. My friend Alex was bragging, on Facebook, how good his Kogi calamari taco was and how much he enjoyed eating it. I’ll admit, I got a little jealous and I even wrote that response on his wall. You see, I am a food truck stud and have nailed most of the food trucks in Orange County and even some in L.A., San Diego and Santa Barbara. Although the one truck I have not been able to tap is the Kogi truck. Why you may ask, has your blogger yet to nab the Kogi truck?. Because Kogi plays so hard to get and then when you find it there is always a big group of guys waiting to throw a couple singles in her window. This elusiveness has made it the stuff an urban legend.
But I digress, at about 11:15 Alex sends me a response on Facebook, indicating that the Kogi truck will be in Irvine during lunch. My ears perked up at this news and I canceled my 11:30 meeting. When I arrived, the line was already 30 people deep. From the looks of the crowd, they were also food truck studs and have already experienced the pleasure of the Kogi Truck. I came to the conclusion that I was a Kogi truck virgin and was getting a little nervous about my first time. As per my normal routine, I chat with the people in line and ask them what is good. A couple of them gave me a little smirk that communicates, “we have a Kogi truck virgin on our hands”. Another guy whispered to me, “You can’t go wrong with any off it’s dishes….just bring some protection if you are going to eat it in your car”.
I ordered the Kimchi quesedilla, the short rib taco and the calamari taco, based on recommendations in line . The total for all three dishes came out to $11, not bad for a lot of food.
The Kimchi Quesadilla
The Kimchi Quesadilla was made from a giant flour tortilla that is filled with Kimchi and cheese. The tortilla appeared to have been dipped in sweet chilli sauce and grilled to make the exterior enameled with the sauce. The seasoned tortilla are then stuffed with the Kimchi (fomented Korean cabbage) and cheddar cheese and then grilled again to melt it all together. The tortillas were crispy, as if they had been deep friend, but they were just grilled on high heat with lots of oil.
The dish was extremely messy with the oil, chilli sauce and Kimchi juice and it saturated the cardboard container. The dish was sweet on the first bite; although within a few seconds, the spiciness caught up and moved to the front of the tongue.
This dish was unique and had some really good flavors. My only complaint is that it was too salty and left me craving for a tall glass or water (a beer would be better).
The calamari tacos are served in the traditional street style, small corn tortilla stuffed full of ingredients and served overflowing. Inside the tortilla was grilled calamari, onions, Korean radish and Kogi’s secret Korean bbq sauce.
Although the recipe of the sauce is a secret, I think it contains Korean hot pepper paste, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, hot oil, sesame oil and a dab of fish paste. The flavor was sweet, tangy and had a delayed spicy sizzle on your tongue. The spiciness was not overpowering, but enough to let you know it’s in charge. The calamari protein had a sweet flavor; when paired with the sauce, it provided a nice balance of flavors.
The Short Rib Taco
The short rib taco was the last dish I ate because it is the sweeter of the dishes. I needed something to cool my mouth after eating two rich and spicy dishes in a row. The short rib taco is also constructed from corn tortillas and filled with a nice helping a slow stewed short rib in a sweet tangy Korean BBQ sauce.
The sauce was not the same as the squid taco, it was a little more sweet and subtle. The taco was topped with a sweet and tangy salad. The vinegar in the salad helped to cut through the protein and opens up the taste buds. This dish was a perfect happy ending that helped calm the tongue from the heat and relax the palate from the salt.
My Final Thoughts
Although Kogi has obviously been over-hyped in social media, there is no doubt that the dishes do live up to the lore. I am glad that I have managed to finally try the Kogi truck and experience is Korean-Mexican fusion dishes. The Kogi trucks are masters of social media, using twitter to update their loyal followers. They have also managed to thrive lone-wolf style by jilting the trend to congregate in herds of other food trucks. This unpredictability and difficulty finding a Kogi has given it the mystic of the hot high school hot girl that everyone want to meet. I give the Kogi truck a 4 out of 5, meaning I will come back often and recommend it to my friends. The dishes were creative and amazing, but by no means any better than some of the other food trucks out there. I would highly recommend that you try their food at least once and make your own decisions. Even if you don’t like spicy, there are plently of dishes you may like.
Kogi BBQ Truck http://www.kogibbq.com/
Find truck locations on Twitter @kogibbq
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