Friday, August 21, 2009

Kogi BBQ visits Costa Mesa

For those of you living under a rock and not connected to the Internet, Kogi BBQ is the taco truck that elevated the simple roach coach, the convenient lunch choice for time-starved workers, into a gourmet food phenomenon, pretty much revolutionizing the food truck industry.

Kogi BBQ mainly operates in Los Angeles, rarely venturing behind the Orange Curtain due to OC's strict health and food code. However sometimes for special occasions, Kogi is able to swing a permit or borrow a truck with an existing permit, like they did last Saturday (8/15) when they came to the Costa Mesa Holiday Inn on Bristol St.

I had to check it out. I've been dying to try Kogi ever since I heard about it on KCRW's Good Food. I've also been obsessed with taco trucks since 2005 when I worked at Volcom and dreamt about owning my own upscale taco truck. I would talk about it everyday with my co-workers, discussed it with Jamie, the driver of the taco truck that visited Volcom, and developed a menu. My truck was going to be a panini truck offering hot sandwiches, soups and salads. But I lost my job and the taco truck idea went dormant. Then when I heard about Kogi, I was totally kicking myself in the butt. Morale of the story: if you have an idea you are passionate about, run with it. Don't be a wuss like me and never follow through.

So back to the Kogi BBQ. Matt and I arrived at the Holiday Inn at 10:23 after spending the day at Three Arch. The line was about 30 people deep. Despite the long line, I was determined to try it, at least to see what the hype was all about. I had heard about the Kogi line being a scene complete with DJs and turntables. This Saturday night at the Holiday Inn, it was no exception. There was a makeshift dining area set up while the Departed was projected along the side of the hotel.

the line at midnight, still crowded

It took FOREVER! We waited over an hour and half to order. By the time we got to the window, they had run out of almost everything. No burritos, no specials, no chicken, no pork. They only had short rib tacos, tofu tacos, sliders, and the hot dogs. I was super disappointed. I ordered two short rib tacos, sliders and the Kogi dog. "This better be worth the hype," I grumbled as I moved to the next line.

While we waited in line for our food, the workers had already dismantled the dining area, so we would have to take our Kogi to go. That meant the crunchy kimchi would wilt and become soggy during the car ride home. I was even more disheartened. I did not wait this long for soggy, lukewarm food. It was 12:23 AM when we finally we received our items and got back in the car. Two hours of my Saturday night had gone by.

We raced home, hoping our haste would deter the sogginess. Unfortunately the tacos and the hot dog were cold and had to be microwaved, further wilting the kimchi. The sliders were spared the microwave treatment as I was so hungry and grumpy that I didn't care if it was cold.

Short Rib Sliders

And boy were my taste buds in for a flavor explosion. All of a sudden, the two hours I had waited for this glorious mini-burger were a moot point. It was all in service of this delicious slider. I immediately wish I had ordered at least two because I could have easily eaten the single order of two sliders by myself. The sweet short ribs on the soft Hawaiian roll with the crunchy, spicy kimchi and that cream sauce just made my taste buds sing!

Short Rib Taco

The short ribs tacos were good as I was now a fan of the Kogi short rib. But I prefer the Hawaiian roll as the vehicle for delivery of short ribs to my mouth. The hot dog was pretty tasty. I loved how the spicy kimchi cut through the saltiness of the hot dog while the cream sauce cooled and soothed the heat.

Kogi Dog

Almost 1 AM and finally satiated, it was time to call it a night. I was happy to finally try Kogi BBQ. Even though it is definately worth all the hype, I'm not sure if I would wait two hours again. Maybe if they at least had the whole menu available. But then again, I probably still wouldn't wait two hours.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I seriously need to go get myself lunch now...I just read three food blogs in a row and now I'm STARVING.

    Thanks for the KCRW food link, btw...I love KCRW for just about everything :)


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