I’ve been hearing about the Kogi BBQ truck for I don’t know how long now…. and although I’ve made a handful of attempts to follow the truck and try the food, I’ve always failed to date, either because I’ve shown up too late or I have refused to stand in line for more than 30 minutes to order my food. Finally, with the week off in between Christmas and New Year’s, I seized the opportunity and succeeded in finding the Naranja truck parked near the Irvine Spectrum. (I can’t help but think how cute it is that one of the OC trucks is the Naranja one.) Fortuitously enough, the Kogi truck was only one of a handful of other trucks that were parked in this pretty nice apartment complex near the Spectrum as a part of some holiday gathering. Honestly, I can’t remember the names of the other trucks anymore, but they looked somewhat interesting. However, the Kogi truck was definitely the star of the show as a line was already forming even before they opened up. Luckily, we got there early, so we decided that this could be as close as we could ever get to a short wait, so we stood in line to order.
Everyone raves about the tacos and the quesadillas, so we obviously had to give those a go. We ordered the chicken, spicy pork and short rib tacos, so we could sample each of the meat tacos. I think the short rib tacos were probably my favorite, but in all actuality, they all tasted pretty similar in terms of flavor and sauces. The taste is pretty good, and there is a fair amount of meat and veggies topping each tortilla wrap. Pretty well done especially compared to the other Korean tacos I have tried in the Bay Area.
I still remember CKoh‘s words after trying Kogi’s Kimchi Quesadillas, “I am going to marry these kimchi quesadillas and have a brood of baby kimchi quesadillas who I will devour instantly.” Disturbing imagery aside, these memorable sentiments have fueled my curiosity to one day take a bite of these cheese-filled creations. They aren’t bad, and considering I don’t like cheese very much, that actually says a lot. However, I think for those cheese-lovers out there, this is probably really delicious. The pickled vegetables of the kimchi seem to go really well with the rich cheesy flavor.
I actually preferred the Blackjack Quesadilla over the Kimchee one. It was still a mix of melted cheddar and jack cheeses in a tortilla wrap, but they also added some caramelized onions and spicy pork and topped it with a citrusy jalapeño salsa verde. The onions and pork meat really helped to balance out the quesadilla so the taste didn’t feel completely overwhelmed by just cheese. I highly recommend this over its original brother.
Like I said, the Short Rib Tacos were probably the best, and I would still recommend ordering them in spite of the $2 price tag. They may be small, but they are decently filling.
I think this was my favorite of the meal. The Pacman Burger included a mix of spicy pork, chicken and short ribs with salad, chicharrones, jack cheese, cheddar cheese, salsa roja, salsa verde, and sesame mayo, sandwiched between two toasted burger buns. It sounds like a mess and looked like a mess, but I thought it was really delicious!!!
Overall, I thought the food was very good and hands down better than any of the copycat trucks I’ve tried in the Bay Area. I can see why it’s so popular particularly for the lunch crowd (with the numerous number of different fast-food bites) and the late night post-drinking crowd (with the deliciously greasy food theme that permeates the menu). I’m not sure it warrants the 45+min waits, but I can justify going through the rigamorale at least once. The food is pretty tasty, the prices aren’t terribly unreasonable, and the creativity in the flavors of the food makes the Kogi BBQ truck stand out in the pack.
PAFO Ratings for Kogi BBQ Truck:
Price 1 star
Ambiance 1½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars