Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Kimchi Taco Vs. Tacos El Idolo
After my French class (oui, mesdames et messieurs, I continue to grapple with this sadistic language), I could not resist stopping at the Kimchee Taco truck parked on Astor Place. Just so you know, Korean tacos are pretty much the only fusion taco I'm willing to accept, except for tacos árabes, Arab tacos, which are a Mexican invention. Why Korean? Because their barbecued beef and pork work well inside a tortilla, and some of the Korean flavors overlap with the Mexican palate.
The Kimchee Taco truck offers three assorted tacos for $7. I chose BBQ beef and shredded pork. The pork filling was excellent. The beef filling was tasty but ice cold. I told as much to the nice owner guy and he chose not to believe me. The tortillas were tiny, which is okay, but what is not okay is that they were cold and stiff and tasted like corrugated cardboard. Non-Mexicans still do not understand how to serve a tortilla soft and warm. The day they do may be the day the world finally comes to an end.
Kimchi Taco serves the tacos with something they call pico de gallo which is super spicy and tangy and not bad, I surmise made with radishes and scallions. Luckily I ordered the kimchi on the side because both salsas would have completely seared my mouth and overpowered the taco itself. The problem with the Korean pico de gallo is that it also comes straight from the fridge so dudes, (and this goes for Chipotle too) please understand that you can't put frigid stuff on top of a hot taco.
I had an epiphany last night which may help explain why most gringo taco concepts will never work here: hygiene laws. If the city demands that the food be kept in the fridge until the last possible minute, you are never going to get a decent taco experience. That is the only explanation I can find for tacos being cold. This can be easily circumvented by making the fixings less vulnerable to spoiling and appropriate for room temperature. Whatever you put on top of a taco has to be room temperature, otherwise you completely ruin the taco, no matter how tasty.
I felt guilty as I passed by the Tacos El Idolo truck, which is parked right on the corner. So I ordered an agua de horchata because of the Korean lingering spiciness, and then stayed for a taco de carnitas. This taco was $2.50, but it was at least twice as big and plump and had two much better, warm slightly greased tortillas. It was dressed with chopped onions and cilantro as it should be, and was served with a slice of unfortunately dessicated lime and radish (which I find unnecessary). It was pretty tasty. If you do the math, El Idolo is a much better deal because it is much more food and more satisfying. You can't possibly have room for three such tacos, and you will only be paying 50 cents more. The tortillas are warm, so is the filling and all is good with the world.
Now that going to restaurants in New York has become an activity that only the 1% can afford, food trucks provide excellent cheap alternatives. The taco trucks make New York an even better city, if that is even possible.