I was driving back to work from napping at my apartment during my lunch time today, and saw the Kogi “Verde” truck on Olympic, between Sawtelle and Barrington. It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen the truck at that particular location, but for some reason it was the first time I was actually intrigued. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had Kogi since they camped out near my apartment while I was at UCLA. Or maybe because it was a good chance to complete my Roy Choi holy trinity (after visiting A-Frame and Chego). But regardless, I decided to stop the car and get some Kogi, despite my widely-known apathy for the food from my previous experiences. Parking a block away, I can smell the abundance of sesame oil (which makes its presence known on everything from the truck).
Kogi Sliders ($5) – short rib, sesame mayo, cheese, salsa roja and a cabbage-romaine slaw tossed in a chili soy vinaigrette on toasted buns
This was under the “Kogi Favorites” section. I only remember trying the taco, burrito and kimchi quesadilla in the past, so I figured to try something different. I thought that the sliders were pretty good. The short rib and veggie combo made this kind of reminiscent to mini tortas, with the buns soaking up the flavors quite well.
Tacos: Short Rib, Spicy Pork ($2.10 each) – sesame-chili salsa roja, julienne romaine lettuce and cabbage tossed in Korean chili-soy vinaigrette, cilantro-green onion-lime relish, crushed sesame seeds, sea salt
The tacos basically have the same ingredients as the sliders, or at the very least tasted as if they do. I think that’s probably my main concern with the food at Kogi (besides everything being on the saltier side and too much going on – like Chego), that it looks like the majority of the stuff have the same components, so there wasn’t much variety from dish to dish. These were not bad though, but the sliders were better.
Blackjack Quesadilla ($7) – caramelized onions and spicy pork married together with cheddar and jack cheese, citrusy-jalapeño salsa verde
I also wanted to try something from the “Fan Favorites” section, as I’ve never tried any of the items from it. I decided to go with the blackjack quesadilla, since I heard the person ahead of me order it. This was probably my favorite of the three things I ordered, as the tortilla was grilled to a crisp, which reminded me of an onion pancake (although the photo on the menu looks MUCH better than above). I felt that the salsa verde was a little unnecessary though, since there was already a lot going on with the caramelized onions and spicy pork.
I wasn’t disappointed with this most recent experience with Kogi, but I did come in with fairly low expectations. And luckily the line for the truck wasn’t long at long, or else it probably wouldn’t have been worth it. I felt like the food repeated some of the same flaws I remembered from the past, but the time away has made me somewhat appreciate the fusion-y flavors, however one-note they are.
Chris Hei grade: B-