Street Food We Like: Korilla BBQ
Billed as a "mobile Korean grill," Korilla BBQ is one of the best new food trucks we've tried recently. We have Kogi BBQ to thank for the popularity of this sort of fusion fare; the Los Angeles-based truck selling Korean-style meats in tortillas spawned dozens of imitators, first up and down the West Coast and now out East, such that the Korean taco truck is now a recognized genre.
But Korilla is clearly its own creature, even if in many ways it falls into the Kogi camp. Its menu is largely made up of tacos and burritos with various Korean-inspired fillings, but it'd be unfair to dismiss them as a knockoff. They've already made their own reputation on the streets of New York; Korilla parks in office-heavy Manhattan neighborhoods at lunchtime every weekday, and in two different locations, we've seen lines stretch to dozens of people within minutes of their truck parking, sometimes well before noon.
What to order, after the jump.
While tacos may be the obvious draw, we were actually partial to the chosun bowls ($8), shown here with kimchi-bacon fried rice (plain rice is also an option) and tofu. Why? The best parts about Korilla are their kimchis and sauces, and in bowl form, you can pile on just about as much as you want: any of Korilla's six kimchi renditions, four sauces, and numerous garnishes.
In this bowl, for example, the thick but still-jiggly tofu slices pick up flavor from "Korilla sauce," an additive smoky-spicy mayo-based sauce, and "Korean hot sauce," vinegary and spicy, but not aggressively so. (Spice fiends should try the "K'illa Sauce," a darker 5-pepper sauce that sets your mouth on fire before it moves on to your sinuses.) Pile on the vegetables: we loved the mung beans, shredded carrots, and shiitake mushrooms.
Bacon-kimchi fried rice costs an extra dollar, and in the bowls, it's worth it: it's bacon in every bite, both in small chunks and in the delicious bacon fat that permeates every grain of rice. It's a little greasy, but if you're ordering something called "bacon fried rice," I'm guessing that doesn't bother you too much.
With any of these items, including the soft tacos here ($7 for 3), you've got your choice of proteins: thick slices of that tofu, made by Korilla; "Ribeye of the Tiger" (bulgogi made from black angus ribeye steak), "Porkinator" (pulled pork), or "Wonder Bird" (marinated chicken thigh). For the tacos, we preferred the bulgogi, beefy and just a little chewy with a great sweet-meaty balance. (The chicken is nicely tender but a bit sweet to our taste; the pork, a little chewy and wet.) The bulgogi also pairs best with the shredded Monterey jack, for a sort of Korean cheesesteak effect. They'll offer the cheese on anything, but it works best with the beef.
The bulgogi's great in a bowl, too, with the creamy Korilla sauce and their red kimchi: it's got a little crunch and strikes the right balance of sour, salty, and spicy.
We wouldn't actually pick the burrito ($7) as the best form of Korilla consumption; it's one of those burritos large and layered enough that it's tough to cram all the ingredients into one bite. (On this one, we had porky bites and lettuce-y bites, but not too many that were both.)
And while the tofu was actually one of the best protein options, we'd recommend it in the bowl only; its moisture proved a problem for these soft corn tortillas, which fell apart too quickly. The tortillas themselves are pretty solid, corn-y and pliable and without the stiff edges corn tortillas can get, although they're a little bit thick for a double-wrap.
So, What Do I Order?
Tofu plus anything in a bowl; bacon fried rice, if you're into that sort of thing; bulgogi in just about anything; and as much kimchi and as many veggies as they'll let you pile on.