Food trucks are the hallmark of every New York street corner. From the mini-bakeries on wheels to the Halal food hotspots, food trucks offer quick, cheap meals at any time of the day. Now, the city’s collection of on-the-go eateries has expanded even more; Korean-Mexican cuisine, vegan delights, and dumplings have joined the amazing food truck race.
Entrepreneur Phillip Lee and chef Young Sun Lee have found the perfect mix: kimchi and tacos. Their Kimchi Taco food truck, which opened six months ago, serves Korean food in a Mexican style, such as grilled Korean BBQ beef tacos, kimchi, and green onion nachos.
“It’s our love and passion for Korean food, and we wanted to make it accessible, because Korean food is relatively unknown, even in New York City,” Phillip Lee said. “We kind of combined it with tacos […] so people weren’t intimidated by Korean food.”
The truck follows a busy schedule, holding lunch hours from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. It can be found at fourteen possible locations, complete with a weekly listing of its locations online at kimchitacotruck.com/findus.html.
The Lees’ food is quite varied as well. The truck offers a Kim-Cheesesteak of beef, pork, or chicken sautéed with kimchi and your choice of cheese, four types of sides, and a set of rotating specials, such as the kimchi quesadilla. In addition, it sells four types of tacos, including seared pork, pulled chicken, tofu edamame falafel—the latter made especially for vegetarians. The palm-sized tacos, topped with pico de gallo, kimchi, and green onion, cost $7 for three or $9 for four. The meat combination, which comes with a pork, chicken, and beef taco, offers the greatest variety.
Sides ($3) include BBQ nachos (Korean marinated barbeque beef and spicy pork with kimchi, queso blanco, pico del gallo, and green onion), kimchi, chips and beans, and grilled rice cakes dipped in Korean red pepper glaze topped with queso blanco and green onions. All of the food is kimchi-themed and is therefore, a little spicy.
Despite its unusual, cross-cultural food combination, Kimichi Taco has been very well received. “So far, people love it,” Phillip Lee said. “It’s been a big hit.” Through a combination of its unique, tasty food, availability, and good service, the truck is a welcome sight for any hungry New Yorker.
At last, the vegetarians can eat well. Taim Mobile is a Middle-Eastern-themed truck that caters to veggie lovers. The truck has been open since November 2010, while the truck’s associated restaurant, Taim, has been open in the Village for five years. The truck can be found either at the 30th St. entrance to the Highline or at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn on Sundays and is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m at both locations.
Created by husband-wife team Einat Adomy and Stefan Nafziger, event organizer Nektarios Loannidis, and former broker David Shapiro, the menu consists mainly of falafels, hummus, smoothies, and salads.
“The green falafel [falafel with green herbs, such as coriander] is what we‘re best known for, and so is our Date Lime Banana Smoothie and the Ginger Lemonade,” Michael, the truck operator at the Highline said. For those in search of a refreshing beverage, the Date Lime Banana Smoothie has a unique flavor that should not be passed up.
Falafel options vary from the falafel sandwich ($5.75) of green falafel, hummus, Israeli salad, pickled cabbage, and tahini sauce to the falafel platter ($10), which also includes a quinoa salad and pita bread. Alternatively, the hummus options without falafel include the Mediterranean platter ($9.50), and the hummus sandwich ($5.50), which includes the Israeli, quinoa, pickled cabbage salad. The simple hummus and pita ($5.50) are also available.
Individual salads range from $4 to $9 and vary from standard Greek salads of romaine, salad, kalamata olives, feta, and lemon mint dressing to pickled cabbage salads with a sweet and sour marinade.
Smoothies ($5.50) include the usual strawberry-banana and the pineapple-coconut as well as the more exotic pear-mint-lemon and strawberry-raspberry-Thai basil.
The Original Food Truck
Open since 2004, the Chinese-themed Rickshaw Dumpling trucks were some of the first to drive on New York City streets. What started as a bold business venture by NYU student Kenny Lao, who opened the Rickshaw Dumpling Bar on 23 St. between 5th and 6th Avenue turned into a revolutionary way of serving food.
“He decided trucks are the way to go,” truck operator Jacky Tu said. “He was one of the leading truck vendors, because it kind of exploded, so he was the first to really pioneer it.” With quick service, this is the truck to go to if one is in a rush.
Rickshaw Dumpling trucks can be found at Tavern on the Green in Central Park or at the Highline, where they are parked for most of the summer. They can also be found on 55th and Broadway or down by Wall Street. Rickshaw Dumpling trucks are open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner shifts are from 5 p.m. onwards.
Their truck menu features three types of dumplings ($6): pork and Chinese chive, chicken and Thai basil, and vegetarian edamame (soybeans). “The vegetarian edamame comes with puree edamame as well as full edamame and lemon sanchao dipping sauce,” Tu said.
Sides ($3) include edamame, miso soup, and one of two salads: the chili sesame noodle salad and the Asian green salad.
The three dumpling options are its most popular, though trucks offers many more, including the award-winning warm chocolate Shanghai soup dumplings, made of a sesame-crusted mocha wrapper filled with hot Callebaut chocolate.