KoJa Kitchen: A food truck to follow

On one of my lunch time walks in Downtown Oakland, my colleague and I passed a few food trucks parked on 12th Street. I always get excited about food trucks, but this one particular truck caught my attention because of the large LCD monitors displaying their menu. KoJa Kitchen was the name. We didn’t plan to eat there this time around. I went ahead and asked a customer what she thought of KoJa Kitchen. She said she had already bought her lunch before she realized KoJa was here, so she now has two lunches. She even offered her first lunch to us. I didn’t accept her lunch, but that is a pretty good praise to waste her first lunch so she can have KoJa.
Koja Kitchen was part of the recent Eat Real Festival in Oakland. I remember the lines being really long. I decided that I better follow KoJa Kitchen on twitter so I could know when it would be parked again on 12th Street. This time I planned ahead with my walking partner that a walk and a stop at KoJa Kitchen was in order this past Thursday.

We each got a Kalbi, or short rib KoJa. Amazing chunks of Korean BBQ short ribs were laced between two discs of rice patties in lieu of a bread product. My colleague and I agreed that they were scrumptious. Although the rice patties were unique, it was the meat that shined.
We shared an order of the kamikaze fries. These criss cross fries were layered with minced bulbogi, or Korean BBQ beef, sautéed onions, kimchi, and green onions. Surprisingly with all the condiments on top, the fries stayed crisp and were delicious.
I remember the KoJa Kitchen customer, who had two lunches, got a dessert too so we tried the mochimisu. It is a tiramisu with chocolate mochi. I really like traditional tiramisu, but the texture of this one with the mochi didn’t really work for me. I can pass on dessert next time because there will be a next time. Follow KoJa Kitchen on Twitter.


Borinquen Soul: Not Just Another Food Truck

It was six years ago when I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico (PR) with my BFF. It was a great trip because we had friends that took us around and made us feel like locals. Those memories reappear when I am near the Borinquen Soul Food Truck. It’s a food truck straight out of Oakland that brings not only the “Taste of Puerto Rico,” but the smells and the music.
Borinquen Soul has music playing from their truck speakers which is what you would hear on the streets of PR. My coworker and I had just finished walking Lake Merritt and the fun music and the wonderful smell led us to Borinquen Soul which was parked off Snow Park in Downtown Oakland. We decided we would share a combo and a side item.
We ordered combo #2 which came with Puerto Rican rice, a beef turnover, and plantains. The side we ordered was the beef fritter. We waited about ten minutes, but the music helped make the time go by faster. Our food came in one large container which we brought back to the office to divvy up.
It was actually enough food to split between the two of us. I love Puerto Rican rice with the green olives. This one was moist with good texture. It was tasty. The beef empanada had a crispy exterior with minced ground beef inside. My friend thought it was good, but thought it lacked beef. I didn’t notice that, but some of her beef may have spilled out during the cut. We both agreed that the beef fritter was amazing. I didn’t expect the deep fried outer coating to be made of plantains. The plantains that came with our meal were actually tostones. Those are unripe plantains that have been smashed and fried twice. The first time I had them was about six years ago in PR. These were nicely seasoned and delicious.

Be on the look out or listen for Borinquen Soul, better yet follow them on twitter at twitter.com/BorinquenSoul

Taco Trucks: Two for One

You can find tons of taco trucks up and down International Boulevard in Oakland, but some that stick out are the ones from Taqueria Sinaloa. I went to Taqueria Sinaloa with a friend and my niece for a light lunch one Sunday afternoon. The north side of the parking lot has the truck that serves fish tacos and the south side of the parking lot has the truck making traditional meat tacos. Since we wanted to try both, my friend and I each stood in different lines.
I stood in line for the meat tacos. My favorite tacos are al pastor which is marinated pork. I like them because they are very saucy and flavorful. My niece likes carne asada which is steak so I got her one of those. Typical street tacos are small, but you can’t complain at $1.25 each. I also enjoy munching on the radishes, carrots, and peppers.
My friend picked us up some fish tacos to try. I was expecting a large piece of fish that is battered and deep fried. The ones we got had small chopped pieces of grilled fish mixed with salsa. I thought these $1.50 fish tacos were really impressive. I even enjoyed them more than my pork tacos which is saying a lot.
Taqueria Sinaloa serves a variety of drinks including agua fresca. My niece ordered strawberry and I got pineapple. They were refreshing like they are supposed to be. My friend also picked up a horchata, rice milk. She really enjoyed it especially with the abundance of cinnamon flavor.
There are a lot of taco trucks out there to try, but Taqueria Sinaloa is one that should be on top of your list. They also have a large amount of open air seating which makes things fun and feel like you are part of a community.

Mogobbq: Korean tacos in the Bay Area

The Kogi food trucks can be credited with aligning social media with the food truck.   Born in Los Angeles in late 2008, Kogi serves fusion street food, combining Korean and Mexican cuisines.  Korean barbecue meats are combined with tortillas which become tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.  In addition, they serve sliders using the Hawaiian roll as the bun and hotdogs that are topped with kimchi.  The social media aspect came to be when their original customers would update their status on facebook about the “tacos”.  From there, the owners began to tweet where they would be parked.  Customers would drive across town to find them and wait over an hour to get their food.  Today, they have almost 80,000 followers on twitter.   I consider them marketing geniuses.  I haven’t followed them down to Los Angeles, but recently found a similar food truck parked across the street from my work. 

The MogoBBQ truck is one of several copycats of the original Kogi truck.  I came out of my building at lunch one day to walk around Lake Merritt and passed by a fairly crowded food truck.  I figured if the line was shorter when I got back from my walk, I would try them.  Lucky for me when I got back, there wasn’t much of a line at all.  The meats available were beef short ribs, chicken, and pork.  They also had a meat alternative – tofu.  Their menu mirrored that of Kogi’s.  I decided to get two tacos – one pork and one chicken.  At $2 a piece, that was reasonable.  I ate them at my desk and was pleasantly surprised how good they were. I enjoyed the pork much more because it had more flavor and the chicken was a bit on the dry side.  The vegetables on top were delicious.  The homemade slaw was made of fresh lettuce and cabbage mixed in a tangy vinaigrette.  The sprinkled sesame seeds were a nice touch.  I became of fan of Mogobbq on facebook and await their return to Oakland.