As promised by their Twitter feed, they were at 303 N.
[For you non-OCers, it's called the Orange Freeway because it originates in or heads to the City of Orange (depending on which way you're going), not because the freeway's color is in any way orange; that would be stupid. It does meet I-5 (the Santa Ana Freeway) and the 22 (the Garden Grove Freeway) at a massive spaghetti junction known as "the Orange Crush," which I think is clever... the name, not the Mongolian clusterfu¢k of a poorly engineered junction.]
We were expecting ninety-minute lines, which is why we had loaded up on chips and M3's homemade guacamole for fifteen minutes before heading out (and we brought along our own Cokes™ to avoid paying a buck-fifty for theirs). Turns out, there was no line at all, and the person taking the cash — cash only! — asked me for my order before I had a chance to even look through the menu.
The word spicy in "spicy pork" had me wondering if this was standard maepta spicy or if they'd somehow made it super spicy for bragging rights or something (a culinary turnoff for me), so I asked the guy standing behind me with the cute girlfriend if he'd tried it before and how spicy was it. "Is it like sundubu spicy, or is it a lot hotter than that?" I asked (first in English, then in Korean), giving a reference point. "Oh, like sundubu, I guess."
So we waited for about five minutes or so and then they called our names and we got our food, half of which we ate right there in the parking lot. They do have foil and plastic bags for you to wrap up the food and take with you, which I did with the burrito, of course.
|above: A tale of two tacos. The bloodier-looking one is the spicy one.|
And it was good. Turns out the sundubu reference was apt: it was spicy for taste, not for pain. The spicy pork one is the reddish one on the left, but I think I preferred the short ribs one. The short ribs simply lends itself better to the mix with the Mexican tortilla (which is more Mexican style than Taco Bell style, at least as well as I can gather from occasional jaunts into Tecate, Tijuana, or Santa Ana).
M3 had over-ordered, so I was getting quesadillas and another taco thrown my way. It was good. All of it. KoMex is not a bad idea, I'll tell you what, not just as a way to introduce Korean food to the unwashed masses of neophytes, but also to people used to it. The meat is a bit sweeter than standard taco meat, but that blends well.
And as M3 and I discussed on our way back to Anaheim, that accessibility seems to be what's driving its popularity. Sure, there is a measure of hype to the Kogi taco trucks (I heard about it from frequent articles in the Orange County Register that made it sound like ambrosial kalbi and bemoaned the fact that the sole Kogi Taco Truck at the time rarely made it down from Los Angeles), but they wouldn't attract so many people (they eventually had to get an OC-only truck they called Naranja, or orange, and then a second one called Rosita, or pink, I think) if they weren't good.
Good and accessible. Over at Daniel Gray's Seoul Eats and Joe MacPherson's Zen Kimchi they may have lengthy discussions on the merits of Korean fusion food, the
I was talking with a sundubu restaurant owner in OC about how to use Yelp and other such sources to drum up more business, and we discussed the idea of a "chobo menu," a beginner's way of figuring out what's what so that it won't be so daunting. Stick it right outside so people walking in can figure it out and then not feel rushed when they go inside. I remember when phở (Vietnamese-style noodles) were first becoming big in Seoul, the main chain recognized that most of the people coming in were unfamiliar with their product, so they had something like "phở for beginners," "phở for the experienced," and "phở for experts." And now it's a hit (maybe because they wrote it as pho, not phở). Such a hit that at some point in the future, there may be loads of people in Korea who think that p'o (포) is originally a Korean food.
So that's my story. Posts like this are a lot more pleasant to write than the ones about North Korea threatening to blow up everything.