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Is CalbiBBQ any good?

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I noticed that the Calbi truck was going to be in Santa Monica tonight, so I stopped by to give them a try. They've been accused of copying Kogi's food...apparently they're copying Kogi's capriciousness as well.

Has anyone actually eaten there? How's the food? I don't find Kogi's food to be all that special; is Calbi any better? (Are they a little less stingy with the chilis? Are the prices any cheaper?)

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  1. I guess I'll answer my own question.

    I stopped by what seems to have become their hangout at Arizona and 3rd today. There was no line, which was a nice surprise, but they seemed to be moving tacos with a customer every two or three minutes. I tried the short rib burrito ($5) and a pork taco ($2). The burrito comes without kimchee, but they will add it on request. I requested.

    Both of the meats had a very nice flavor, a little sweet, but both would have been better with more peppers in the marinade. I can't fault them too much for that, though; they're trying to cater to the middle of the road diner. An option for hot kimchee in addition to the mild would have been a nice touch. I really prefer the flour tortilla to the corn ones; the flour makes a nice starchy but mostly tasteless wrapper for the meat and veggies, while the corn flavor is just a distraction from the BBQ. In all, I think they taste a little better than Kogi, though perhaps it's unfair to compare them as my expectations are much higher after a trip across town followed by a half-hour wait.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bjartmarr

      Gimmicky, isn't it? A Korean taco truck. Well, I'm one who loves sandwiches of all kinds, the mixing up of complementary flavors. I also love corn tortillas. So when I ran across CalbiBBQ at Universal Studios yesterday, I couldn't resist trying this novelty. I love Korean food. I ordered the beef taco, which was $2.99 and tiny. It came with lettuce, a few small pieces of beef, green onions, sesame seeds, topped with cheese. I have to admit I did like it. It had a good "Asian" taste (I'm Taiwanese so I can say this with impunity) and even though the beef was sparse, it was enough for the whole thing to taste good together. I don't think I would like half an hour just to get this again, but next time I pass the truck, I would purchase again.

      1. re: Bjartmarr

        I think you described them perfectly. I like the pork burrito with NO cheese or egg. Didn't know about the kimchee, but will definitely be ordering that on the burrito in the future.