Saturday, May 30, 2009

And now there's the "Marked5" truck...

by Ivy

I had some fun tonight walking about downtown LA on a Friday night...

Some of the local color you see in LA.
That monstrous camera in the back was mounted to this Audi A8.

After our drunken stumbling out of the Crocker Club and having attempted to watch a burlesque show by The Feminine Oddities at the Hive Gallery, we ran into "Marked5", yet another food truck riding the trend of asian-inspired fast eats. This one like Kogi BBQ, sees Twitter as a valuable marketing tool to create a legion of followers and intensify hype(see: my personal kogi making experience at home).

Anyway.. onto the comparison. :)

Kogi: Korean inspired tacos, burritos, quesadillas, etc.
Japanese inspired burgers and bites, etc.

Great menu. My initial impression is very good. At first glance, readability is clear. Their menu is straightforward, concise in a legible, san-serif font. Good descriptions for the food and clear pictures of the food.

Drat. Tofu looked yummy. They ran out of Tofu. Wow, Tofu is the most popular one! LA is quite the health conscientious city.

Our friend Kenny hears the pangs of hunger and is the first to take the plunge even though he wasn't totally hungry. He goes ahead and orders the "Torakku Beef".

Nice! We note the goods filled in the refrigerated part of the truck up for purchase: Pocky, Arare(Japanese rice crackers), Green Tea, Pocari Sweat, Wasabi Peas, Calpico, Mr. Coffee, Grass Jelly and various other asiany items, mostly Japanese. Of course, being that Kenny just ex-patted from the U.S. to Shanghai last year, orders the Grass Jelly in true Commie fashion. Chairman Mao would be proud.

The adequate amount of cooking time passes. No complaints there in speed and delivery. Not crowded though. The people who work there were nice and friendly. Kenny receives his order hot and fresh. After the initial bite, he expresses, "Ooh, this IS really good!", so Rena and I decide to order our own to share. We order the "Torakku Beef" and our other companions order the "Shrimp Spring". Like Wendy's burger patties, the sticky rice buns are shaped into flat squares.

Tastes Great! It's like a Japanese Hamburg steak with some carmelized onions, lettuce, secret sauce with rice in a convenient sandwich form. The secret Torakku sauce was really good except that it was starting to drip all over the place. Bread is a good medium for absorption but I don't miss it--the rice works well with all the components. I still don't like the drip factor and I feel like I'm in one of those Carl's Jr. commercials where I'm a saucy wench. As for the Shrimp Spring, I don't have a picture of it, but duuuuude... they were light, crispy, airy which really brought out the savoryness of the shrimp nestled in its bubble of fried goodness. Pretty freakin' delicious.

Slight downside. It started after the Kogi phenomenon. Kogi has a cult following, it has more brand influence and reach. I've noticed at Taco festivals around Los Angeles if it features 20 Mexican taco booths, at least one Kogi truck will be there to represent fusion tacos. On the up side, with a good product people will come--Marked5 is keenly aware of sprucing up their identity with a logo, twitter site, and street team who are passing out business cards with their website.

"Torakku Beef" A tasty mess

Sticky Rice buns fall apart even though they are ever-so-slightly toasted on the outside. My suggestion in making the "bun" hold together might be resolved by making the outer sides of the rice buns super crispy, cracker-like--take for example Korean

Overall Rating:

Kogi: 4/5 stars, I like it. However I still would not chase this moving restaurant and wait in a mile long, one-hour line. Especially now that I can make these suckers at home.
Marked5: 3.8/5 stars, work on the bun and I would rate it much higher. Good flavor and product. I would definitely eat this again if we crossed paths again. I definitely want to get those Shrimp Springs again.

I really like these asian-inspired food trucks. It offers variety and carves out a new food niche that's distinctly Los Angeles. Even LA Weekly Pulitzer prize winning food critic, Jonathan Gold gives them a shoutout:

Not since Pinkberry has anything captured the local imagination as quickly as Kogi, the Korean taco truck whose owners went from giving tacos away on Hollywood Boulevard to becoming rock stars of cuisine in little more than a couple of months — which is to say, 10 times faster than it took Guns N’ Roses or System of a Down to break out of the tyranny of small clubs. The Doheny, the swankest membership tavern in town, has arranged tasting menus of Kogi food paired with their exquisitely balanced cocktails, and the crowds that form when the truck rolls up to UCLA are big enough to disrupt traffic. In the parking lot outside the Brig in Venice, Kogi becomes an impromptu nightclub, a taco-driven hookup scene as perfervid as anything with a $40 cover charge. Last Saturday night outside the Brig, Kogi swarmed with customers, while the Green Truck, the high-quality organic purveyor that was the first of the gourmet trucks, stood by an empty sidewalk just one block away.

Rena also had dinner at Pete's Cafe before meeting up with some of us, somehow they ended up meeting this super nice guy named Tom Gilmore. Apparently, he owns half of downtown LA. No fucking joke. He was nice enough to hook us up with free entry into the Edison Bar nearby. He wrote on his business card for us to give to the bouncer, "Please let these people inside -[signed]Tom".

1 comment:

  1. "Their menu is straightforward, concise in a legible, san-serif font. Good descriptions for the food and clear pictures of the food." This made me laugh out loud -- I look at menus and see the design and copy first, food second. Oh, to be creative...