Happy Chuseok! Celebrate with Bulgogi from the Koja Truck
Today, Nick from My Inner Fatty is a giving us report on the Koja truck in University City, which is perfect since today is Chuseok- the Korean Harvest Festival.
Perhaps it’s the smell of garlic soy that wafts from the ventilation of the truck as you walk by, or maybe it’s the consistent crowd that gathers around lunchtime, but in truth, I would be lying if I didn’t admit what drew me to the Koja truck was the kick ass mural they have plastered all over the sides. Yes, I decided to eat here for the extremely trivial, and arguably dumb, reason of it looking awesome. Luckily, they’re more than just a pretty face, there’s some culinary substance hidden inside those colorful walls.
Koja’s a staple in University City, it’s a truck which serves a menu that is half Korean, and half Japanese… hence the name. Located on 38th, between Walnut and Chestnut, it’s one of several food trucks that essentially form a line of meal options, but it certainly has carved out a certain niche for itself. Like I said, it has quite the following, with a pretty hefty crowd gathering every day at 12, so if you plan to walk up and get your order within minutes, think again. As a reference point, my order took about 30 minutes when I showed up at noon (note: You can call ahead and pickup your order, if you want to expedite the process a bit). That said, there’s certainly a reason for it. Like their trademark dish, the spicy pork bulgogi.
Their menu is actually pretty robust, so unsure of what to order, I just asked and ordered the general consensus favorite. For $6, the pork bulgogi comprises of a hefty serving of rice and a generous amount of fatty pork, stir-fried with onions, peppers, and a hot gochujang based sauce. Also included are 2 dumplings (generic frozen ones, that weren’t fried as promised by the menu). You can also order the dumplings individually as a side ($3 for 9 steamed or fried), but I’d pass. They truly are just generic frozen dumplings that get reheated, thick on skin, light on filling.
The bulgogi was great, considering the price and the fact that this comes from a truck. The pork is pretty high in fat content, so if you’re looking for a health conscious meal, you’d probably want to steer clear of this, but if not, the fat makes for tender and juicy strips of pork marinated in a sauce fiery enough to bring tears to your eyes. I asked for my order to be made extra spicy (so the option to control the amount of heat that goes in exists), but in hindsight, the regular order is more than spicy enough for most people. No, this probably won’t be the same as bulgogi from a restaurant, but for the convenience and for the price, it’s a tremendous value.
Also- Koja is offering free rice cakes with your meal in celebration of today!
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- The price to value ratio is decent ($6 for a pretty large serving of rice/bulgogi)
- If you’re a fan of spicy foods, they’ll make it as painful as you want
- Have I mentioned how awesome the cart looks?
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Wait times get a bit absurd at peak hours
- There are cheaper options (albeit not Korean food) just across the street
- Mediocre dumplings get forced on you
Koja Truck, 38th and Walnut, 267 322 9925