Friday, July 24, 2009

Rate-A-Restaurant #214: Kogi BBQ

Restaurant: Kogi BBQ

Location: Mobile Truck; 5900 Wilshire Blvd. for this review (Miracle Mile)

Type of restaurant: Korean tacos and burritos

We stipulated: I've stood in line for Kogi BBQ several times... but have always bailed when it quickly became apparent that I'd be there for at least 90 minutes. That just doesn't work at dinner time, when I've got a wife and kid at home waiting for me. So despite all the hype, I had never had a Kogi taco... until I heard that one of the three Kogi trucks would be outside the Variety Building on Thursday. With that in mind, I called up my colleague, Ben, and we stood in line in the hot sun. The line was *just* long enough that we once again considered dropping out... but eventually we passed that point of no return, and committed.

They stipulated: Kogi offers a daily special -- but not at lunch time. There's the lengthy waiting-in-line thing. Then there's that need to order a lot, in order to justify the amount of time you waited in line.

What I ordered: Korean short rib taco ($2), Korean chicken taco ($2), Korean spicy pork burrito ($5)

High point: The burrito comes with a tasty potato mixture inside; I ordered without cheese and didn't miss it one bit. The kimchee mixture and other spices are much more elaborate than the knock-off Korean taco trucks we've eaten at.

Low point: What can I say, that line -- especially in the hot sun -- is pretty annoying. Especially when you realize that you fell in line during the peak, and that the line was never as long as when you joined it. In other words, it would have been better to get there an hour later. Meanwhile, when Ben and I finally made it to the very front, wouldn't you know it -- they ran out of tortillas. After a six minute wait, they began taking orders again.

Overall impression: You know how sometimes movies come out, and they're so hyped -- and your friends built it up so much -- that it can never live up to expectations? There's always that weird let down -- yeah, it was good, but not the best thing ever.

That's the experience of the Kogi truck. Given all the hype, the Twitter explosion and the lines, you're expecting nothing short of the best experience ever to hit your mouth. And that's not what it is. What it is is tasty, original, excellent burritos and tacos, with the perfect amount of spices and kim chee to get you through the day without ruining the day of everyone around you.

Chance we'll go back: Yes -- but I wouldn't wait in that hour-long line again. That's a one-time deal. It's like Pink's in a way -- you only really want to do that line once; but if it's short enough and you're driving by, it's your duty as an Angeleno to line up and grab something. Ditto here.

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