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Kogi - Good food, but is it worth the wait? [pics]

A couple of months ago, the Kogi truck was to be parked in front of The Doheny and if you RSVP you get to check out that exclusive private club also. I've been wanting to check out The Doheny and give Kogi a real try, so I RSVPed through DigLounge.

When we got there we had to line up to get a stamp from The Doheny, which was supposedly needed to order food from Kogi. The Doheny line took about 30 minutes. Then we lined up for Kogi ... for almost another hour. When this guy 2 places ahead of me started ordering, he started talking to Caroline about he just came to LA ... the guy right in front of me commented about how this is what's so great about Kogi - how they talk to their customers. (OK, I do think talking to your customers is very cool. But ... I've been starving in the cold for 1 1/2 hours *cough*)

Finally we get to order! They were unfortunately out of the Kogi sliders :/ so I opted for the hot dog among other things instead. Of course, we had to get some of the kalbi tacos:
OK. This Kogi sauce is pretty darn good - not that spicy but quite flavorful. The meat was also noticeably better than what I had in front of The Brig a few months back. One is definitely not enough.

We also got the Kogi hot dog and tofu taco that they were offering that night:

Since the sauces are the same, I won't say much more about them. Of course, I like the kalbi taco the best. I'm a meat eater all the way. I guess at this point I wished there was more 'variety' not just with the meat but the sauce as well. But on the other hand, hey, it's a taco truck?

Kogi also usually offers a vegetarian item. This time it's a vegetarian taco with pomegranates.
It was a bit too tart for my taste - I'd stick with my kalbi tacos.

So. Kogi. Yes, yes, I like it. I like it quite a bit. I mean, if they were at UCLA back when I was going to school there, I would've gone every day. But an hour-plus line? I don't know man, I wouldn't want to wait an hour and more for them. I get cra~nky when I'm hungry! :P

I think because of all the hype, the line is too long for what this truck is meant to be - a place to get some good bites after a long night of drinking - not a place to wait in front of for an hour in the cold LA smog ...
Hopefully with their new truck addition, the lines will be much shorter next time I hit them up ...

Photos: http://tinyurl.com/acnhaq

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  1. The wait for this food is approaching "Pink's Time" (g). I think that Kogi and Pink's both have hit upon a pretty smart business model. Keep the customer waiting in line for an hour + and they will inevitably buy more food than they ordinarily would.

    If the hoopla dies down (ala Pinkberry) and the wait approaches 5 minutes I will aim to try it out. Thanks for your report, burumun.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      I was about to say "Pink" shtick is what comes to mind.

      And now that I think of it, I have a couple bridges available for sale as well. Only minor detail, there's a long waiting list. I'll publish details one of these days.

      1. re: RicRios

        According to Einstein (who was overheard while waiting in line at Pink's) - as you get near the edge of the giant "Pink" hole, time appears to speed up for those who are approaching the ordering rim - while for the observers at the far end of the "Pink" hole line, time is actually seen as "slowing" down. My paper with all the math will be published via Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study some time later this year. ;-D>

        1. re: Servorg

          ROFL!!! Einstein + Robin Williams = Servorg

          1. re: Servorg

            Servog, no disrespect intended, however this is taking the thread off base. Pinks is not Kogi. As to Kogi I was happy to hear about the Alabi room however I plan to take in the truck experience . I think the sense of community of waiting in line sounds kinda fun a least for one time. So for those whom been to a truck have you a reccomendation or two? The Sliders and Kalbi seem to be on my short list. I guess that I should look at their ( Kogi's ) website and see when they will make it to the westside again. I missed the night they were at the Brig in Venice..

            1. re: Foodandwine

              Go with the Tacos, the sliders were disapointing because they use 'Meh' Bread. I liked the Pork and Chicken the best. The Kalbi was quite over sauced... I don't think the Truck does Fries... but the fries were AWESOME at the Alibi room...

              --Dommy!

              --Dommy!

              1. re: Dommy

                HI Dommy,

                I haven't tried the sliders but I hear they use sweet Hawaiian rolls. Is that what they used? Sounds a bit too delicate to support even a slider properly.

                I also think that the consistency might not be there with Kogi. At the truck I found the kalbi to be good, the pork to be very good, but the chicken wasn't happening that night. It was kind of dry and the tofu actually had more flavor, if you can believe that.

                I do think that the best part of the experience is seeing who turns out to the truck. It's as random a cross-section of the city as I've ever seen at a food venue. Pretty cool to watch.

                The Brig location does not usually have much of a line when I've been there.

          2. re: RicRios

            Good, but def not worth the wait.

            This is where Kogi's differs from Pinks.

            1. re: RicRios

              After reading the posts down below I've decided to release some info to the general public. It's $100 to get into the mailing list for the upcoming Golden Gate auction. Please send CC ( only VISA & MC, senza promotions please, sorry no Amex nor Disc ) to: info@LetMeSellYouMyHype.org

          3. The Alibi room has a pretty good system... They take orders in batches and then whip them out. Our wait was no longer than 20 minutes (which was made even easier with booze...)

            --Dommy!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Dommy

              That's good to know. Aye, if there was booze in my hand, the wait would've been less painful methinks. But no, I was supposed to get food first, then go in the doheny, boo :<

              So with their new truck and the Alibi room, the wait should decrease. Then see if their popularity holds up?
              Or will it be like Pinkberry? Once it's franchised all over the place, the hype's died down significantly.

              1. re: burumun

                Well worth the wait. If you wait one hour after the truck arrives, the line isn't as bad. Twice I have been lucky enough to walk right up to the window and order. The longest I waited is one hour.

            2. you know, i see where you're going with the wait and all, but once you meet chef roy, you will feel the same way i do.
              he is one of the most humble men doing god's work here in LA.
              i've hoped for so long that there would be more interesting street food in LA, and then there was kogi.
              this guy's first job out of culinary school was working in eric ripert's kitchen... he's no joke.
              he's really passionate about his food and his city; as a lifelong angeleno, i appreciate where he's coming from and will support his vision as much as possible.

              2 Replies
              1. re: alkylyou

                I see where you're coming from... But what exactly is his vision?

                I also heard the East LA people were waiting in line for 3 hours and didn't get any food because they ran out. This shouldn't be his long term vision, should it?

                But I am glad they've added the second truck, and now the Alibi room. Should make it easier for people to get their food.

                1. re: burumun

                  basically, chef roy said that kogi was his love song to los angeles and his childhood.
                  he grew up on korean food, but gained a deep appreciation for mexican food because of the nature of los angeles.
                  he moved away for some time and missed it all and decided to make it when he came back.
                  another thing that i have to say is that i've never waited for more than 30 minutes at the brig.
                  the east side is a mystery to me.

              2. I'm obsessed with Kogi, though I've only managed to go twice. I was actually there the opening weekend and there was no line. My second visit, I wasn't so lucky, though I did totally get my pic in seriouseats thanks to it (for my fame, see: http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/02/a-...). I was drunk the first time, sober the second, and I will say it was deliciousness all around. There is a ton of hype around this place, but the hype comes from really good food. The first time I tried it, there was no hype (I know this is totally getting to "I liked Radiohead before they got popular" levels, but bear with me) but I was so dazzled by the food that I was compelled to visit their website, yelp, etc. It's food that makes you obsess.

                3 Replies
                1. re: junipersong

                  fyi...you may want to repost your link, didn't work for me.

                2. "cold LA smog?"

                  wow, really? do i detect some nocal hate?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                    I accidentally found the Kogi truck last week after going to a show at a club called El Cid on Sunset around 11:40pm. Leaving the club I was pleased to find the truck and the line wasn't too bad. Maybe 15 people and I got my food maybe 10-15 minutes later. They ran out of tofu so they used mushroom. I also got a taco with the Korean short rib meat. It was late so that probably helped, but people kept showing up while they were trying to close up it was a little past midnight.

                    1. re: ronnie_gaucho

                      Hahaha no I'm a SoCal lover all the way. Otherwise I wouldn't call LA "cold"
                      I mean, NorCal is freeee~zing. Anyway.

                      1. re: burumun

                        Ok...just checking lol

                        I enjoy your blog btw