Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Korean Tacos" My Ass!

One of the top complaints that native English teachers from North America have about Korea is their lack of Western food in two areas: sub sandwiches and Mexican food (tacos!).  It is 2011!  Why can I not buy anywhere in my city (I don't live in Seoul) a slightly toasted chicken breast sub sandwich or a burrito supreme?

I saw this article in the Korea Times and just cursed to myself.  The title is "Korean tacos take America by storm".  Shouldn't Korean tacos take Korea by storm first?  Then this super taco storm can go and conquer foreign markets.  Why is there an article about a popular "Korean" food that does not exist anywhere in Korea...

NEW YORK — A warmed tortilla piled with chunks of marinated short ribs, cheese, lettuce, salsa, kimchi and onions — there you go, a classic Korean taco served straight off a truck.
For some, this doesn’t sound right. But followers of the wildly popular Korean-Mexican dish know — kimchi and tortilla just go together. 
The fusion taco, first born in Los Angeles, is now popping up everywhere across the U.S. as a go-to street food. From bulgogi burritos and kimchi cheesesteak sandwiches to spicy pork tacos, the mix of flavors just keeps growing. And so is the size of its cult following.
Waiting in line for an hour to order is no surprise for any experienced Korean taco eater.
“That’s almost part of the fun,” says Neil Perkins, who lined up just before lunch in Soho, New York, to order from Korilla, the city’s first Korean taco truck. “I wouldn’t do this if the food wasn’t worth it. No way.”
Because all the best food you can buy is always served off the back of someone's truck...
Julianne Lee, another patient patron, added, “It’s just brilliant. I know all of these flavors, but to combine them together. It’s just awesome.”
To get a taste of this awesomeness, not only do fans have to line up fast, they first have to hunt down the truck.
Most of the Korean vendors on wheels post and promote their ever-changing whereabouts on Twitter and Facebook so customers can find them — another thing the taco trucks are known for besides their flavor. 
So who started all this?
Roy Choi, founder of Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go, the Korean taco pioneer that rolled onto the streets of Southern California in 2008 and fanned the smash-hit taco trend.
Since Kogi, more than three dozen taco trucks have been launched and scattered across the U.S., selling tacos and burritos for as little as $2 a piece.
Named everything from Kogi, MoGo and Yumbii to Calbi, the list of competitors keeps getting longer. And the newest one to join the ride is about to debut in New York City.
Dubbed Kimchi Taco, the truck is already grabbing attention from the city’s picky foodies and media.
“We’re excited to bring Korean food to the masses,” says Phillip Lee, who is opening the business with Youngsun Lee, both who have years of experience in New York’s competitive restaurant industry.
The reason why Korean tacos are so popular, he explained, is because they’re so approachable.
Lee says traditional Korean barbeque sold in restaurants is well-liked by the general audience but the price is too high for everyone.
“We’re just tweaking and marketing Korean food so that consumers can feel comfortable and give it a try,” said Lee. “At the end of the day, people want something that’s good. That’s what a Korean taco is.”
I don't care if you just add some kimchi to it.  If people in Korea do not eat it (or cannot find it), then it is not Korean food.  How about this founder guy bring some of these trucks over to Korea... get some Koreans to eat some of their famed native food... I'm not bitter... ugh... yes, I am...


Roboseyo said...

Well, if Hines Ward does well, he suddenly becomes Korean, because he has some Korean ingredients.

I suppose it must be the same for kimchi tacos, because they contain some Korean ingredients, too.

Brian said...

Laughed my head off on this post.

100% spot on and I share your immense frustration. I would literally kill to get a kimchi taco truck to appear in my neighborhood.

This Is Me Posting said...

Didn't you know traditional Korean taco is traditional Korean food?

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