Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Seoul on Wheels - Chicken Korrito

I was talking to someone recently about an impending visit to Off the Grid, and I was asked what I planned on eating that evening. It occurred to me that even though I keep abreast of what trucks will be there, I rarely plan what I'm going to eat ahead of time. I don't know what I will order until I make a circuit around the gaggle of trucks and choose something that tickles my fancy. That's the great thing about food truck meet ups: it encourages spontaneity. The bad thing, though, is that the trucks with the longest lines usually lose out, and that's something that always seemed to happen to me when it came to Seoul on Wheels. This time, however, the line was short, the time was right and that Chicken Korrito was mine!

Certain food trucks always have a long line of people waiting at the order window, and Seoul on Wheels is one of them. At a recent visit to the Eat Real Festival, I was flabbergasted by how the line for the truck slinging Korean burritos, tacos and burgers stretched so long that it crisscrossed with the line for the beer tent several yards away. Since Seoul on Wheels makes their food ahead of time, the lines aren't a product of slow assembly. They are just that popular. The eye can deceive you, though, because while the order line may be long, there is no pick up window which means that turnover is faster than it appears.

Since the line for Seoul on Wheels wasn't quite as daunting this time, it didn't take very long for me to get up to the window and order a Chicken Korrito. After paying the seven dollars, the foil-wrapped package was in my hands before my wallet was back in my pocket, and I sat down to eat.

The Korrito consists of your choice of meat, spicy rice, kimchee, cheese, cilantro, and crema, wrapped in a flour tortilla. I chose the BBQ chicken, which was prepared with a Korean marinade. It was pleasantly sweet with a nice taste of char and plenty of soy sauce. They stuff enough chicken to ensure some in every bite, even at the ends of the burrito.

The rice had a little bit of chili to it, but it wasn't all that spicy. Most of the kick in the Korrito came from the kimchee, but even then it was pretty tame. While it had plenty of fermented tang that worked well with the sweetness of the chicken, the red chilies in the kimchee were few and far between. Overall, the spiciness of the burrito would rank as mild.

There wasn't an overwhelming amount of cheese, which was just fine by me. It's not that the cheese was completely out of place—it rounded out the flavors and added some depth—but too much would have taken away from the Korean flavors and ventured into the realm of Tex Mex. Mexican crema is a bit thinner and not as sour as sour cream, and it added a creamy texture to the Korrito that may not seem like a good idea at first but really did work.

I liked the taste of the Korrito. The flavors were definitely more Korean rather than a mash up of Korean and Mexican, and the rest of the ingredients supported the sweet soy sauce marinade of the chicken, never crowding it out. I liked the measured hand with which the cheese was applied, but I thought the cilantro was lost in the mix.

The premade nature of the Korritos is responsible for the fast service, but that aspect is also responsible for a few shortcomings, as well. When I received my order it was warm, not hot. The juice from the kimchee had also soaked through the tortilla somewhat, making it soggy in parts. And even though I didn't feel any customization was necessary, diners who would rather not have the cheese or crema don't have that option. It's also possible that the one-size-fits-all approach is the reason behind the lack of spiciness.

In the end, I want the food trucks I frequent to be mobile kitchens, not merely places to hand out food prepared somewhere else. That's what a catering truck does. So even though the Chicken Korrito was tasty, the overall package fell a bit short.

Rating: 2/5 (ratings guide)

Seoul on Wheels (@seoulonwheels) $7 for a burrito

Seoul on Wheels on Urbanspoon

Does reading this make you want to try this vendor? Tell them that you saw them at I Left My Cart in San Francisco and support San Francisco street cuisine!

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