Domo Taco Adds to their Frankenmex Selection
After taking a comment walloping in my overuse of “authentic” (which, after hopeful negotiations, I will replace with proper qualifiers of opinion/experience as applicable from here on out) in a review of Taco Bite’s Mexican fare (which is authentic in my opinion – is that better?) I figure I may as well stick to things that by definition defy authenticity to avoid the verbo-sociological pitfalls therein. Hence, when Domo Taco, which I liked but other contributors, not so much, announced on their Twitter feed that they were bringing in kimchi tempura tacos, I could think of no better opportunity to continue down the great altar of Comida Mexicano-japonésa at their latest visit to 38th and Broadway. This time, Taco Bite wasn’t there to cause a block war to break out. Are we looking at a new paradigm of fusion (“Sure, guys, let’s go for four distinct nationalities – Japanese, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Korean”) or a mad scientist’s cobbled-together nightmare?
The specials are eye-catching, but not much has changed on the normal menu printed on the truck. Appearances are deceiving – if you check Domo Taco’s website, you’ll see they’ve swapped out the curry beef for marinated steak, and also advertised on their Twitter was ginger chicken. My hackles are already raised by virtue of the chicken being white meat. Why not continue with the dark meat from the lemongrass chicken?
Business was decent for 12:20 on a non-FiDi food truck line. I was behind about five people in the order and then the pickup lines.
Three tacos for eight bucks. Still no double layering of tortillas. Kinda cuts down on the perceived fillingness factor. At least it looks like there’s more stuff in the tacos.
Here’s our first doomsday device in taco form. The kimchi falafel taco came on a bed of what tasted more like baba ghanoush than the advertised tamari black bean hummus. There’s a bit of beaniness to it but no real flavor – like they were just mashed in for extra body. The tomato cucumber relish was closer to a salsa fresca than a relish but it had a light, tangy crunch – maybe a bit of rice vinegar in there gave it the tang. Sadly, the falafel is on the mealy side, and while it had a nice low spice flavor to it, if you’re coming to this area for falafel, you should be going to Pitopia a block away instead of Domo Taco.
I’m pretty sure they intended the miso tahini to be that whitish sauce on it and I definitely tasted the miso, but zilch on the tahini. It made me think that they put on miso crema by mistake. I was a bit crushed when the kimchi part was darn near underfulfilled. I know that some small banchan dishes you get with Korean food can include a cucumber-based dish but it really, really smacks of just throwing on something tangentially related just to add zing. Which, by the way, was lacking – it needed hot sauce, which I got on the side. I wish I didn’t, when I last had Domo Taco they slogged it on with gusto.
The ginger chicken was something I really wanted to like. In concept, it was a tangy marinated white meat chicken, shredded, with ginger and scallions. What I got was some monstrosity whose chicken tasted exactly like what happens when you cook chicken in a slow cooker. Of course, since it’s white meat, it’s going to be dry, and as such I’m shaking my head at the lost opportunity to just use the damn dark meat. It is not rocket surgery. The process should not result in something that looks like I should be feeding it to my cats (and they’re smart enough to probably refuse it).
The soy cucumber salad was a overmarinated tossing of tiny cucumber slices, radishes, and a dash of red onion which was separate in flavor from the salad. The chicken itself was the sole ginger element. It was in some low-level tart vinegary ginger flavored light sauce, more like a bit of marinade in the mix. I ran out of included hot sauce trying to add flavor to this overly watery morass of dry chicken and vegetables.
Steak, please save me, since marinated steak is usually nice and juicy. Wait… this steak is shredded. Dammit. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me two tacos in a row, you lose my good faith. Repeat after me, prospective fusion taco vendors: shredding protein does not Mexican-style make (at least not authentic Mexican style, I’m sure – and that’s my opinion upon the authenticity; I’m a contributor of my word). I’m pretty darn sure that Piaztlan, who took home the Vendy Cup, would agree with me, as I yearn for their tacos that I may well never again have unless destiny sends me to Red Hook.
The steak is just a bit teriyaki-ish, more of a deep saltiness than teriyaki. It carries over the otherwise decent pineapple salsa from the curry beef, but the beef is way too dry from its shredding. Here we get the miso crema in earnest, but it didn’t stand up one iota to the other ingredients. If it was present on the palate, it was way way out there beyond normal detection values. I barely even registered miso or crema. The cheese is a scattered afterthought. The cilantro, a leftover from the chicken taco. The experience, a wash. My stomach, satisfied but not full. Somehow it feels like there’s more veggies on here to boost the individual altitude of each taco, but they don’t fill you like the ones I had last time.
I liked what I had on my first Domo Taco visit but I am going to need some very serious convincing to give them another try with different ingredients. Their ideas have merit, but their implementation needs some real tweaking to emerge from unique ideas to great execution. Taco Bite has been hitting up their space on the southeast corner of 38th and Broadway these days. Between the two, I urge readers to give each an equal chance, but my money and taco cravings will be saved for Taco Bite or any other close-to-authentic-ish Mexican unless a new truck arrives on the scene.
The + (What those who had a Mexican mother and a Japanese father would say):
- It’s always nice to see trucks jazzing up the usual menus – Korilla and other standbys, take note!
- Three tacos for $8 allows for some good variety with these new items.
- Domo’s a weekly presence now, always good to have trucks in this part of Midtown.
The – (What the employees of Sayonara Burrito, Domo Taco’s evil mirror world equivalent would say):
- Their attempts at new fusion flings fall fully flat.
- STOP SHREDDING DRY, OVERCOOKED MEATS.
- I’m still hungry!
Domo Taco, they usually spend Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in Midtown (check their website for daily locations and menu changes)