NYSF FIRST LOOK: KIMCHI TACO TRUCK

crowd

The much-anticipated Kimchi Taco Truck finally landed in the Flatiron District yesterday, and we came down from Midtown to check it out.

I got there at 12:40 and the line was about 15 people long, which wasn’t too bad – but there were also 10 people or so who had already ordered and were waiting for their food.  Not a good sign.  There were also two people on line in front of me holding pieces of paper that looked like large lunch orders.  Another bad sign.

Luckily, the guys (and girl) in the truck spent last week serving lunch in Long Island City, and they worked pretty well together.  But with the amount of people in front of me, and two large orders, it was a solid 30 minutes from the back of the line to walking away with my food.  Hopefully this will come down somewhat in the future.

With a name like Kimchi Taco Truck, the first thing to try had to be the tacos.  There were 4 kinds to choose from – bbq short ribs, pulled chicken, braised pork and tofu edamame falafel, and it cost $7 for any 3 tacos.  Would the food be worth the wait?  Click through to find out.

tofu edamame falafel, bbq beef, pulled chicken (l. to r.)
tofu edamame falafel, bbq beef, pulled chicken (l. to r.)

When I got back to the office and opened the container, it looked and smelled wonderful.  Each taco had plenty of fillings, and there were 2 different sauces to put on, one mild and one spicy.  I put mild sauce on the chicken and spicy sauce on the beef and falafel, then picked up the chicken taco to take a bite.

chix taco
pulled chicken taco

Unfortunately, they only used one tortilla on the taco, and it fell apart before I could get it up to my mouth.  Good thing a fork was included in the bag, because there was no other way to eat it.  I realize it took me about 15 minutes to get back to the office, but that’s one of the reasons we always say there should be a law that tacos must have 2 tortillas.  It costs more, but is well worth it for the customer.

I believe they toasted the tortillas, which made them a little brittle once they cooled off.  It would have worked much better with 2 uncooked tortillas.

The filling on the other hand was excellent.  The chicken was shredded and had a smokiness to it.  They used dark meat, which has more flavor than white meat, and works better in tacos with a lot of toppings.

The Asian pico de gallo was really good, with tomatoes, red onions, green peppers, and a few other goodies.  The pico de gallo was unusual in that it was very clean tasting – pico de gallo is often much denser and saucier.  This was more like diced veggies with a light marinade.  There were shredded scallions that added a little bite, but the red kimchi in the taco wasn’t a major factor.

beef taco sauced
bbq beef taco

When I got to the bbq beef taco, I could see the tortilla was already falling apart underneath, so I just used the fork.  As with the chicken taco, the filling was excellent.  The beef was marinated and well-grilled, with grill marks visible on some of the short ribs.  The beef was cut into perfect-sized cubes, and it was wonderful. Not chewy at all, with a very nice flavor.

The chicken taco was very good, but I enjoyed the bbq beef taco even more.  Nothing beats grilled marinated beef!  The spicy sauce had a really nice kick to it, and there was more red kimchi in this taco than the chicken taco.  The bbq short ribs easily stood up to the spicy kimchi and hot sauce.

tofu edamame falafel taco
tofu edamame falafel taco

Last up was the tofu edamame falalfel taco.  Wow, just saying that is a mouthful.  There were 3 falafel balls in the taco, along with scallions, Asian pico de gallo, and a few pieces of red kimchi.

For the falalfel, they ground up tofu, edamame and chickpeas, added spices, and deep fried it.  The falafel were crunchy on the outside, soft inside, and were not greasy at all.  With tofu and edamame, the taste was a little different than other falafels, but it was in the same general ballpark.  This is an excellent dish for vegetarians.

falafel ball
falafel ball

In addition to tacos, they have kimchi bowls and kim-cheesesteak sandwiches!  Their side dishes of spicy rice cakes, bbq nachos and kimchi arancini all looked pretty good too.  You can view their full menu here.

Our advice is to get the tacos if you can eat them right away or within 5 minutes, or if KTT read this and start using 2 tortillas per taco.  If you have any distance to travel, the kimchi bowls and kim-cheesesteaks are probably a better idea.

However, with all the fillings tasting so clean and delicious, we expect the Kimchi Taco Truck to be around for a long time. We’ll have to see how they fare over the next few months, but a Vendy nomination in the Rookie of the Year category is a distinct possibility if they keep up this level of quality.

By the way, I noticed some fine print on the bottom of the menu that said they will be opening up a Kimchi Grill at 766 Washington Ave in Prospect Heights.  I asked Phil what their timing was, and he said “a couple of months”.  Come to think of it, this food would go really well with beer or sake!

You can follow the Kimchi Taco Truck on twitter here and their website is here.

truck

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