The 5-Second Rule – PoPville’s official unofficial food truck critique by Queenedix – Takorean

Photo by PoPville flickr user yostinator

Read Queenedix’s Eat Wonky critique here.

Despite my love of food trucks, I’m the first to admit that the food, at least in the still-infantile DC truck market, derives more of its appeal from the novelty of being made on a moving tank of propane than it does from balanced seasoning and nuanced flavors. When you’re competing with overdressed $12 salads, reheated Chinese takeout bars, and the ever-popular $5 footlong, it doesn’t take much to provide at least baseline gastronomic satisfaction. To be honest, after last week’s review, I sort of dreaded blowing $25 to taste the entire menu of a new truck, only to determine it wouldn’t be worth eating after a second on the floor.

However, there are a few instances when food truck meals rise above the typical fare to provide a dining experience capable of competing with some of DC’s better restaurants. Every once in a while, you try food that isn’t just a greasy chaser to calm your hangover or a fun Friday “cheat” on your latest weight-loss regiment. Sometimes, you find a truck serving food that is complex, balanced, rich, satisfying, and affordable—a place you return to without guilt because the mere pleasure of experiencing the food again is worth a 20 minute wait in line. I had intended to try something new this week, but noticed a personal favorite, *Takorean*, parked outside my office on Tuesday, and was inspired to bring you my thoughts on a truck I find truly exceptional. Sometimes, you have to set the highest bar to know how good everything else is, and in my opinion, Takorean (and a very small handful of other trucks in DC) set that bar.

After all, any place that makes tofu taste THIS good deserves high accolades.


*4.5 seconds*

Takorean excels partly because they offer a small number of options in their very specific niche, and they do these things very well. Start with options of beef, chicken, or tofu, all marinated in a sweet and slightly spicy bulgogi-style sauce. On my first visit to Takorean shortly after it opened, the tofu option was sold out—an early indication of just how good this protein, so often scorned by meat-lovers like myself, is at Takorean. You can add napa slaw or kimchi (a tough decision, as the slaw is crisp and sweet and the kimchi tangy and punchy) and then a smattering of toppings best ordered all together, as “the works.” These include a crema (much like crème fraiche), sriacha hot sauce, and sesame seeds. Everything comes wrapped in a freshly grilled corn tortilla (props for the grill marks to prove it).

Continues after the jump.

The meat alone is a solid baseline of flavor, and each additional ingredient emerges as you eat. The kimchi’s tart, sour, spiciness comes out first, playing against the rich creaminess of the crema and the delayed fire of the sriacha. Every bite was so satisfying, even after eating here repeatedly, that it was hard for me to put down one taco to get to the next. The beef and chicken are never dried out, grilled to a tender perfection. The tofu, in my opinion, is the surprise star—the texture can sometimes be similar to that of a stale marshmallow, but here it is soft, rich, and pillowy. I have found myself ordering it over meat-based options on multiple visits.

I only have two additions that I think would be amazing (although these suggestions are very, very minor). First, I wanted a little more crema and sriacha on my tacos—I love the punch they add. Second, I had a fantasy about how the combo would taste in a crispy taco shell. I’ve been assured that I’m an idiot for deviating from the soft corn tortilla base, but the added crunch sounds a little dreamy. I might have to bring my own next time to see if I’m right. In short, eat at Takorean with my highest endorsement. I’m confident you’ll love it.

7 Comment

  • takorean is awesome! even if the food wasn’t delicious, i’d go back for the girl who collects the $. seriously though, the food is legit.

  • I had Takorean for the first time last week. I’d been meaning to try it for a while but long lines, no show, etc. got in the way. Finally did though. Unfortunately, I think my expectations were too high. Korean BBQ can be wonderful, tangy, spicey stuff. Although the tacos (I got one of each with the works) were very solid, they were not exceptional. Frankly, they were weak on flavor and punch. Clearly, good, but not great. Oh well.

  • Truly exceptional truck. As the two other posters allude, though, some kinks. My pet peeves:
    1) Standing in line for food sucks. I wish I could eat this more often but unless it changes its name to “Greek Deli” I can’t really conscience the time it take to get food at this always popular truck. (my problem, not theirs! more power to them for being so popular)
    2) Maybe I’m too much of a purist, but there is way too much Sriacha on Korean food in the district. I wish they would make an option for good old Gochujjang (Korean red pepper sauce)–that would really kick it up a notch!

  • The one time I tried this truck, I was definitely unimpressed — it’s definitely in the bottom quartile of the close to 20 trucks whose fare I have tried. Clever concept, but mediocre execution — the meat had too little flavor. It was not worth waiting in line for 15 minutes.

  • Overpriced. I paid 7 bucks for a burrito that was snack size. Decent taste but I could make it at home. I was underwhelmed.

  • Is there anything more irritating than people bitching about convenient, tasty, reasonably priced, and interesting food that you get to eat outside in this beautiful city?

    Thumbs up to Takorean.

  • I’ve only had Takorean once, but the meat wasn’t super flavorful and the tacos were really dry. Maybe I hit it on a bad day, but there are enough other trucks out there that I’m not raring to go back.

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