Ξ February 21st, 2009 | → 3 Comments | ∇ Beyond Northeast, Food |
Wednesday night I finally caved into the L.A. media blitz and submitted to the cultural phenomenon that is the Kogi BBQ taco truck. In case you haven’t seen the story in the Times, heard the NPR broadcast, or read the LA Weekly review, Kogi (pronounced with a hard g) is the latest evolution in the Angeleno mobile culinary institution. I was expecting a scarf and fedora filled line outside the Golden Gopher downtown, but the crowd seemed pretty normal. About 25 people in front of us translated into about 20 minutes for us to simply place our order. Then, we shuffled off to the side where we waited another 15 minutes for our food to come out. Was it worth it? In a word: No. We ordered the Korean short rib and spicy pork tacos which came out on a corn tortilla that wasn’t quite as hot as I usually prefer. The pork was tender and both meats had a sweet marinade that combined well with the cabbage, onion, and cilantro dressing. The short ribs wouldn’t do well on their own, but in the taco they performed nicely. Ultimately, the food was unique, tasty, and affordable (but about twice what you would pay at any other taco truck). Still, for those of us who live within a five minute drive of dozens of delicious and cheap taco trucks, the wait just isn’t worth it. I’m happy to have tried it once, but I doubt if I’ll be returning soon. The good news is Kogi is expanding to meet the raucous demand for its food. They’ve opened a second truck, and are now going to take over the kitchen at Culver City’s Alibi Room.
It’s this last point that I want to dwell on for a moment. Kogi parks on city streets, and while they move locations pretty frequently, (you have to follow their locations via their website) the proposed laws the Board of Supervisors was pushing last year would have made this type of entry-level capitalism very risky for chef Roy Choi. Instead, our city has another unique culinary institution that is quickly maturing beyond paper plates and tin foil.