Thursday, February 12, 2009

What the Fuzz: Kogi BBQ

Kogi! Kogi! Kogi! Okay, so the term 'Kogi BBQ' has been hitting me left and right ever since I've been in LA. I've run into Kogi at least three times in the past week and I'm wondering what all the fuss is about. First, I read about it in the Jan. 30-Feb. 5 edition of LAWeekly while browsing the publication aimlessly in Japantown, and again in the LATimes. My third run-in with Kogi was on a link to this blog.

Though I have yet to try it, Kogi is a traveling taco truck bringing Korean-style marinated meat tacos to the public. It was the brainchild of Mark Manguera, who is of Filipino descent but married into a Korean family. Manguera was munching on tacos one day when it hit him that Korean meat would taste delicious with tacos. Most people would leave the idea at that -- a fanciful rumination. Not so Manguera, who decided to make his dream a reality last November. He recruited his sister-in-law, Alice Shin, who is in charge of much of the PR and Twitter updates; wife Caroline (second-in-command); former Rocksugar chef Roy Choi, who works his culinary prowess in the kitchen; brother-in-law Eric Shin, designated cameraman; and friend Mike Prasad, who helps with publicity.

The tacos come in flavors like Korean short ribs, spicy pork and spicy bbq chicken. For non-meat eaters, there's a Venice Beach vegan black sesame seed jelly special (ooopf, that was a mouthful). Even better, the tacos only cost two dollars each -- great for lunch on the go or a late midnight snack.

Kogi has attracted a large following: people have waited in line for up to two hours just to take home a half dozen tacos.

Singer-songwriter Big Phony even got some props when he created a Kogi jingle of his own. The lyrics go:

I'll follow you down
All over town
Do anything to get there.
Where do we go?
Somebody knows
Jump in the car to get there.
(In Korean:) Koooogi ahjeushi, eodineun gahneunyah?
Mogoshipdah ( go ship DAH)

By the way, the still above is not of Big Phony but is from his music video, "Girls Like You Don't Go For Guys Like Me." I've been tuned into Big Phony since 2005 or so, and got to interview him for Boston Progress Radio. He's quite a character -- talented, for sure, with lots of offbeat humor to boot. His dislike for photographs has led to some interesting t-shirt designs. In any case, check out his songs and blog here.

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