Kogi BBQ & Kogi at the Alibi Room

27 Sep

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Maybe you’re like me: you read all the hype about Kogi but just never got around to tracking down the truck in the middle of the night and standing in line forever. You’ve seen the truck at Venice First Friday or Art Walk, but the line stretched around the block and you thought, there are better things I can do with 2 hours, and you settled for a hot dog.

Well you’re not like me anymore. I took the opportunity a couple weeks ago passing through the OC to hit up the Kogi truck at the Little Saigon lunar new year festival. Good times.

I have gotten my hit of Kogi tacos at the Alibi Room because apparently I prefer jostling douchebags and begging bartenders to pay attention to me. The alternative is Soviet style long lines, eating while standing in a parking lot, and exhaust fumes. Scylla and Charybdis.

This was much better because I got there early. Only a couple people ahead of me, so I just waited a few minutes to order and less than 10 for my food. Awesome.

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Here are the classic tacos in shortrib and the Blue Moon Mulita.

The tacos are awesome. The thing that is so distinctively Korean is not so much the marinated meat but the salad of lettuce and cabbage in soy-ginger vinaigrette. They put a lot of the salad on top — it would be too much except that it’s so delicious. Balance be damned — that’s not what Roy Choi (or Asian stoner food) is about.

The Mulita was new to me and left me scratching my head. It’s kind of a double-sided taco without the salad and their Azul salsa. It’s the salsa I couldn’t figure out. It’s a fruity sauce, maybe blueberries, and has basically every flavor going on: sweet, fruity, spicy, tangy. It’s not salty itself, but you get that hit from the meat. I applaud the inventiveness of the dish, but I didn’t particularly love the dish.

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Also new to me was the blackjack quesadilla, a regular quesadilla stuffed with grilled onions and Korean marinated spicy pork. This is a masterpiece. For a Korean who grew up not eating much cheese, I took a bite and the penny dropped. Korean spiciness and cheese! It’s how I felt when I first had the tacos — of course, I have loved you two my whole life separately but only in marriage are the two made whole! [the two in that last sentence are Korean food and Mexican food]

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I thought I would round out this post with a shot of the Pacman Bowl from the Alibi Room since that place is too darn dark to take pictures (and it’s a little creepy to take pictures around a crowded bar).

Since Chego picked up its toys and headed east, the Alibi Room took pity on those of us left crying on the Westside and is serving up two Chego bowls, the chicken bowl and this unique bowl. The Pacman is the bowl version of their Pacman burger, which basically means throw everything they got in one bowl. All three meats, mayo, cheese, rice, and tons of their taco salad on top.

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I was expecting a rush of new flavors, but the Pacman suffers/benefits from the same issue as the tacos — there is just so much salad. This bowl essentially tastes like the rice version of the tacos, with occasional bites of cheese. I think that’s a good thing because I grew up on this kind of soy-ginger and I love the tacos. It’s not nearly as inventive as the original Chego bowls, but it’ll do, Pig, when I am not feeling like the Sour Cream Henhouse bowl.

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