Korean taco trucks have come to Austin!
At least, one has. I was downtown last night with my dear friend Kimberly when we spotted a shiny new food truck we had never seen before parked at the corner of 5th and Colorado. After consulting Yelp and determing that nobody had reviewed it yet, we decided that we had to try it out even though we were on our way to dinner elsewhere. A girl's gotta have her priorities.
The name of the truck, Chi'Lantro BBQ, is a hybrid between the popular Korean dish kim chi and the herb so omnipresent in Mexican food, cilantro (which, by the way, I never realized until now is the leaves from a coriander plant). The ever-gregarious Kimberly engaged the owner, Jae, in conversation about his food background, which originated in L.A. where his family owns a Korean restaurant.
Kimberly chatting up Jae and showing off her Matrix-esque moves.
Le Menu (easier to read on Chi'Lantro's website.)
Since we were on our way to dinner, it didn't feel quite right to indulge in a burrito, a burger, a quesadilla, or a bowl - all of which Chi'Lantro offers. Instead, we split a spicy pork taco. The marinated Korean pork was served in a couple of corn tortillas, piled high with their homemade salsa, shredded lettuce dressed with Korean chili soy vinaigrette, kim chi (upon request), cilantro, onions, roasted sesame seeds, and a lime. For a mere $2, this thing was huge.
It was a chilly evening, which gave a chilly edge to the already-chilly lettuce and kim chi and robbed the freshly-cooked pork of some of the warm-your-insides feeling I was hoping for. However, 9 or 10 months out of the year in Austin, this could be a good thing. It's also very possible that some of their more meat-heavy offerings might stick to your ribs a bit more; I'm looking forward to exploring that part of the menu sometime soon.
If you've read any of my other reviews, you'll know that I'm a bit of an Asian-food purist and cast a wary eye upon any attempt to ruin it by mixing it with any other food genre (although I do make exceptions; Crepes Mille and Sushi Samba being among them). You may also know that Mexican food (particularly Tex Mex) is probably my least favorite food genre. I don't know if either of these factors explain the reason I wasn't falling all over myself after eating this taco, but there you have it. I was, however, falling all over myself wanting Jae's business to succeed; it was hard not to be enamored with Jae's friendly, fresh approach to a business he is clearly passionate about.
So go check out Jae's friendly Kor'exican taco truck* and see for yourself whether this marriage of two strong food cultures might work for you.
*Taking a page from the playbook of Korean taco trucks in L.A., Chi'lantro moves around depending on the time of day. Follow their Twitter feed for up-to-date info on their whereabouts.
Location: All Over Austin
4/5 stars on Yelp