I’m back, and I’ve got a score to settle.
You may remember Danielle’s post where she takes pot shots at my fair city in her Quiet Clubbing post. Well, it was only a matter of time I guess, before the coastal feuding began on this blog. After all, the age-old question of whether NY is better than LA has still not been settled.
One thing that is certain is where we both rank on the “food chain.” It’s pretty clear that LA can claim superiority there.
Case in point: food trucks.
And I’m not talking about the “roach coach” taco trucks that you commonly find bordering construction sites. I’m talking modern, gourmet, ethnic, fusion-influenced bites. And the food truck that (arguably) started the phenomenon? Roy Choi’s Kogi Korean BBQ truck right here in LA.
All hail, Roy Choi. This, my friends, is no ordinary taco truck.
A combination of Korean BBQ and Mexican food with a little bit of magic on the side, Kogi (pronounced with a hard “G”) is an institution and it’s only been around since 2008. The innovative fusion of flavors, cultural crossover and use of social media to locate the trucks has catapulted Roy Choi into celebrity chef-dom. And rightly so. You haven’t lived unless you’ve had one of his Short Rib Sliders or Kimchi Quesadillas.
Andrew and I sought out (via Twitter) one of their 5 trucks one sweltering afternoon in Venice. With the truck parked in the parking lot of a cocktail lounge called The Brig, we queued up for some eats. Thankfully, the line wasn’t too long, although I’ve seen it trail around the block in other locations around town.
There’s a very nondescript, gritty vibe to Kogi’s trucks, unlike some of the fancier ones you might see around LA with their top-to-bottom flashy vinyl graphics.
But don’t let that fool you as to the quality of the food that comes out of them. Remember? No ordinary taco truck.
Half the issue is deciding what to order. For me, the short rib taco is a must. Kogi sliders are my second favorite. And if that wasn’t enough (it was, but who knows when they’ll be in my area again?) I decided to go for a tofu taco too. This is California, after all. Andrew ordered the same items, except he subbed a calamari taco for the tofu.
After placing our order, we had a little bit of a wait ahead of us, but I kept reminding myself that good food takes time.
This is definitely 10-napkin fare. Each taco or slider is drenched in flavor and they don’t skimp on the fillings either. Kogi packs in everything they can until the bun is busting at the seams. So much so, that the tacos come with not one, but two tortillas to savor each and every last bite. The marinades, spices and crispy chargrilled outside is what elevates this food from great to exceptional.
Try getting something like this in NY. Oh, wait, you can’t. Sure, there are Korean BBQ trucks there now, but they’re just imitations. New York, you almost had a shot at a Kogi truck of your own, but then, sadly, it just didn’t work out for you. But you can always come here to LA and stand in line with the rest of us. We’ll have you. The end of the line is back that-a-way, though.
Where else can you experience culinary innovation from a celebrity chef with a little thrill-of-the-hunt-to-find-it tossed in? That’s right. Only in LA.
Eat that, NY.