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Yo No Taco Americano

Every Friday and Saturday night, parked on the corner of Packard Avenue and Professor’s Row, there is a little red food cart which Tufts kids fondly patronize to satisfy their drunk munchies. Sure, you can wait in line outside of Zeta to get into one of their themed parties, or you can wait in a different, perhaps even more indulgent line. And your patience would be rewarded not with cheap beer, but with a savory chicken sandwich, or maybe even an italian sausage.

Moe’s is the only food cart on the block, providing a unique service of comfort food for the underaged drinker. As much as I approve of these services, I would also like to bring to question: is Moes a drunk man’s haven or a fat man’s monopoly?

I often wonder how much cash Moe’s racks in after a weekend, being the only food stand on all of Tufts’ campus. Yes, the campus center has some late night options but the location is inconvenient and the food is sub-par. Pizza Days is also a possibility but you have to wait for it to arrive and it requires the commitment of more than one person (unless you’re feeling super motivated to eat an entire pie). What I’d love to see is some variety on Pro-Row. What about a late night falafel cart? Some shnitzel? Burritos? How about some Korean tacos?

Korean tacos are a huge hit on the west coast, a phenomenon even, but have gotten very little attention on the east side. The famous “Kogi” truck provides spicy-marinated beef/chicken/pork and korean vegetable fix-ins; add that with the satisfying crunch of a taco shell, some tomatoes and guac and voila! Culinary hybrid perfection. No wonder why Kogi trucks have a cult following in Los Angeles, with reported two hour long lines.

Don’t believe me? Check out http://kogibbq.com/category/menu/ and scroll down for some innovative food porn.

If I were motivated enough, I would rent out a little truck of my own and start catering to the most collegiate town in the United States. My parents would be pleased to hear that they no longer have to finance my $200,000 education.

Korean food itself is pretty, well, Korean. It’s hard to approach its mysterious vegetables, its spiciness, its communal broths, without being a little intimidated. I know many people who have ventured into the world of Korean bbq but I’d love to see them trek toward the entrees-less-traveled.

What Korean restaurants in the U.S. need to do is rebrand themselves to fit American needs. Obviously I advocate maintaining the culinary integrity of the dish, but we can start with even just the interior design of the restaurant itself. True, Korean restaurants have little to no ambiance: round metal tables with a grill in the middle (oh yeah, you cook your own meat) with stools as seats. Many small dishes barely fitting on the table, one wrong move and you can easily knock over the entire dinner. While this, to Koreans, is endearing, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is uncomfortable for any other sane diner. I suggest some cool logo (perhaps incorporating some Konglish wordplay), young good-looking and bilingual Asian waiters, and some new age music playing in the background.

As for the actual menu, Korean restaurateurs need to find five staple dishes that are go-to and approachable. The Thai culinary world has perfected this with their pad thais, their basil noodles, their pad se ews. Maybe tweak a little here and tone down the spices there, add some extra meat, throw it on a hip looking plate and soon, Korea, you will have won the hearts and bellies of America.

– Yuri Chang

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. TommyLi #

    Great idea! That entire section of Somerville/Medford is desperately in need of more late night food options. And Packard seems like the perfect place to setup some more carts! I’m always amazed at how lame Davis is when it comes to accommodating the late-night crowd. College kids eat late!

    February 9, 2011

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