Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kogi Schmogi

I'm not much for trends and hype and am especially not much for long lines, so I never got around to trying the Kogi truck. In fact, I was so sick of hearing about it, I couldn't bear to read another word about it, much less write about it (except for some gentle mockery). I made no effort to search it out and I don't do twitter, so unless I stumbled upon it, I wasn't going to be having any.

Recently, though, I was heading to Daikokuya with the family for some ramen when we saw the Kogi truck out in the plaza of the Japanese American Museum in Little Tokyo. When we got to Daikokuya, the wait was so long, as sometimes happens there, that we went off in search of alternatives (little kids + long wait = no fun for anyone). I remembered the Kogi truck, and thought, if not now, when?

The days of the massive lines are gone, but it still did a very steady stream of business for the entire time I was there. We grabbed some taro boba from I Love Boba and settled in for some trendy tacos. We ordered short rib tacos, spicy pork tacos, chicken tacos, sliders and a kimchi quesadilla.

I can't, for the life of me, fathom waiting hours for this stuff. The meat was gristly and/or fatty, and the sauces were too sweet. There was some nice cabbage slaw on the tacos, and I did enjoy the quesadilla with its surprisingly well paired combination of cheese and kimchi. The slider was a good concept with some good flavors, but again, the meat was not impressive.

I returned a week later for another try and picked up blackjack (pork) quesadillas, chicken mulitas and a Kogi Dog. This time the sauces were a bit less dominant than our previous trip. The quesadilla was good, but the Kogi Dog was simply a standard hot dog with a topping similar to that of the tacos.

The mulitas, a special of the day, were similar to chicken tostadas, but with a tortilla on top as well as on the bottom; the order consisted of two of them, one with salsa rojo and one with verde. It was the best dish I'd had at Kogi in both trips. The tortillas were fresh and crisp, and the salsas were piquant and zesty. This was also the least fusiony of the dishes, hewing toward more traditional taco truck fair, though there might have been a bit of kimchi sandwiched in the tortillas with the chicken. It was a pleasant departure from the rest of the menu.

As a whole, Kogi struck me as more inspired by the Cheesecake Factory or some other mass market fusion food hopped up on sweet sauce than anything truly innovative or interesting. But hey, given that I don't Twitter and am not on Facebook, maybe this stuff was never intended for the likes of me in the first place.


kentanaka said...

Yep. I agree. It's an overrated gimmick. I don't understand waiting hours for it at all...but I don't wait in line for much...
In Tokyo people used to wait hours for krispy kremes.

stuffycheaks said...

Totally on the same page as you. I'd only get Kogi at Alibi Room (no waiting in line + alcohol!)

SinoSoul said...

Well balanced & nicely done. I will let this entire phase pass me by without a tasty. It's like the Carl's Jr. $6 burger. You don't need to eat it to know it's bad.

That said, if I want a mulitas, I'd go find a real taco truck w/o the line. Basically, your write up confirms all suspicious: the entire Kogi enterprise is worthless as a food experience.

sku said...

"It's like the Carl's Jr. $6 burger. You don't need to eat it to know it's bad."

Ha! Great quote and great analogy. I sometimes do go to an over-hyped place not wanting to like it but am pleasantly surprised, just not with Kogi.

fussychicken said...

Wow, looks like I am going to buck the trend here. I must say that I am a fan although I HATE the long lines. Typically the lines are much much shorter towards the end of their 3 hour serving window.

I've only had the tacos, burritos and quesadillas, but I think they were all great! Sku I do agree with you though that the other items don't sound too interesting and/or good. With that said, I especially like the chicken burrito, blackjack quesadilla and kimchi quesadilla.