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Jun 19, 2009 05:40 PM

CALBI Korean Taco truck in Santa Monica - where'd they get THAT idea?

My daughter, who discovered the Kogi truck LONG BEFORE any else told me about this imitator on Arizona and 4th in downtown Santa Monica. We put on disguises and trotted up to the truck - no other customers in sight. It really looks like a roach coach that was selling breakfast burritos a week and was drafted into the Korean taco biz to cash in. The signage looks familiar. Five kinds of tacos (beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, tofu/veg) or burritos, plus quesadillas and sandwiches.

We tried the beef and the pork - meat with shredded lettuce, some sauce and a few sesame seeds. The pork - though not Kogi - was actually pretty good. If I happen to walk by there I might order a couple more.

Do they compare though? Yes - by this equation: ((Taste + Hype/Overhype) x (Hipness + Ripoff Factor)) / (Availability + Average Time in Line)

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  1. good. kogi needs the competition and i hope lots of other twists off the idea take off (and are tasty). we all need more tasty treats to enjoy!!

    1. Hmmm... the pics look good. Here is the schedule.

      I saw the truck from a distance the other week and it looked clean with brand-new signage from there. Wonderful to see something new on this side of town!

      Also, I see a small thread on it:

      1. I went and tried the pork again today, and I've decided that I like the beef better.

        I asked if they only had more than one kind of kimchee, or just the one, and was solemnly informed by the kindly gentleman behind the counter that yes, they have beef, pork, and chicken, and I had ordered the pork, and was that what I wanted?

        Maybe if I email, I can get someone who speaks English a little better. I really think that an option for fiery kimchi would do wonders for the burritos.

        1. I tried this truck last night, wanting to compare it to Kogi. First, they weren't where they said they were (I checked their website before I left), but luckily, I saw them on my way back to my car, and they moved to 4th st b/n Arizona and SM. I walked past them as they were parking to go pick up something to drink and when I got back (maybe 10min), they started to pack up! I asked if they were leaving, and they said that no one was coming so they were leaving. I asked if I could get some tacos before they left, and they obliged. I had a beef and pork taco. Both were good, very similar to Kogi, but I think Kogi uses a slightly better meat, but barely noticeable. Same prices as Kogi too. I wish they would be spicier though, or atleast have some spicy red sauce (or rooster sauce) to add onto the tacos.

          Overall, a good Korean BBQ taco, and it's amazing how little traffic this place gets compared to Kogi, when they are almost the same.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mdpilam

            I talked to the manager yesterday. He said that Santa Monica makes them move every hour, so they can't always be exactly where they're supposed to be.

            I agree, it needs to be spicier. I wrote them about it, but didn't get a reply. Maybe if lots of us write...