Bann Next Door’s Korean Tacos are a Winner
The other week, we were tipped off by Lunch’er jchoi2106, that Bann Next Door would start selling Korean style tacos in August. Speaking as a Korean and a Korean food enthusiast, this simply required immediate investigation. I’d always viewed Bann and its sister restaurant in SoHo, Woo Lae Oak, with mild suspicion. Their relatively high prices and hoity-toity frilly plating was the exact opposite of the humble, filling, and inexpensive Korean food that I grew up with. But after reading Amy’s glowing review of Bann Next Door’s lunch specials, as well as admittedly buying into the Korean taco hype, I hurried over past 8th avenue for a first hand look.
For 9 bucks and change, Bann offers three different types of tacos – garlic chicken, beef bulgogi and spicy pork daeji bulgogi, an assortment of condiments and sides, and 3 corn tortillas. The quantity of meat that I received in my chicken and pork platters was restrained, but an appropriate portion for the price paid. The garlic chicken was somewhat dry and the flavor was tamed to a degree just north of monotony; the accompanying sides provided necessary intrigue and texture. On the other hand, I could find no flaws in the daeji bulgogi (spicy pork), which was as good as any version that one would find in K-town or beyond.
Three steaming hot corn tortillas are included in a separate foil pouch, providing just the necessary amount of packaging for diners to construct their tacos. Each taco kit arrives with a side of avocado crema, which is boldly spiced and zesty, and an ‘Asian’ pico de gallo, a refreshing brunois of spicy and crunchy onions, tomatoes and pickled radishes.
A side of fresh and crispy tortilla chips is accompanied by yet another sauce – this time a spicy, smoky, and slightly sweet concoction with flavors redolent of Korean gochujang paste. A side of cooling rice is a welcome respite after the onslaught of spice and heat from the various sauces. Diners have a choice between fluffy white rice or a competently cooked version of oh gok bap (5 grain rice). My Mother would be pleased to see the latter on my plate, as oh gok bap packs more of a nutritional punch than the former.
Bann Next Door tackles the lofty goal of creating a good Korean taco and emerges victorious, with definitive Korean flavors in a Latin American package. Each self-constructed taco spans a delicious multi-cultural spectrum of flavors, textures and colors. At $9 for a tasty, filling and unique lunch, I can safely say that I am a new fan of Bann Next Door.
Bann Next Door, 350 W 50th St. (btw. 8+9th) 212-582-4446