Hot New Thing: Korean Fusion Invasion

Ramen & Vegetables

Korean fusion is taking over.  Get used to it.

Voted “Hottest Cuisine of the Year” by the January 2010 edition of GQ, Korean eateries have been making inroads all over the United States in the last few years.  Gone are the days when unadventurous bores got away with dismissive comments and wrinkled noses at the suggestion of Korean for dinner.  Kimchi fusion just got sexy.  Ask the long lines of Angelenos that waited for a taste of kimchi-topped tacos from L.A.’s four KoGi taco trucks.  With over 51,000 Twitter followers, Kogi truck locations are tweeted to fans that then descend on them in hordes.

NPR quotes a devotee review on  “I tracked down Kogi Friday night… Life as I know it has ceased to exist. I want Korean BBQ tacos, I want them now and I want them every day for the rest of my life.”

Hop coasts and you’ll run into the Kimchi Bulgogi hot dog (a spicy dog with Korean-style barbecued beef and spicy kimchi), available from New York Hotdog and Coffee for $6.50.  Want a burger with a K-twist?  Burger House in Houston, a Korean burger joint, will fry you up a bulgogi burger for $4.95.  Korean Food Revolution., a post on, talks about leading Korean American chefs “Korean-ifying” other mainstream dishes to positive effect.  The trend shows no sign of slowing down.

Of course, it doesn’t always work.  The Los Angeles branch of Korea’s Mr. Pizza Factory served up a flop with their “bulgeogi pizza, a slather of marinated beef, along with potatoes, bacon, sour cream and chives on top of a greasy pie.” (  Reviews were harsh.  You can’t win them all.


Bjorn Karlman

22 thoughts on “Hot New Thing: Korean Fusion Invasion”

  1. HA HA HA. “Reviews were harsh. You can’t win them all.” Bjorn, you crack me up. And I TOTALLY have to agree. Korean food is life-changing. SO good. My personal favorite is bi bim bop. I could eat that every day for the rest of my life… okay so at least once a week for the rest of my life.

  2. Dang, I wish my palate knew about Korean food. I’m in the dark on this one. I know I have to give it a chance but it’s just that I have this idea that Korean BBQ consist of yukky, tough to chew meat. What I do know is that Kimchi is actually healthy for you. Kogi tacosm yum! Sorry Bjorn, that’s all I can say about Korean BBQ, I feel out of the loop.

  3. No if they can modify Irish cornbeef and cabbage or Ukranian borsch and put a Korean spin on it, then I will really be impressed….

  4. Bjorn if you could help me by telling me the closest place where I can find Korean fried chicken I would much appreciate it!!! Loving the posts bro.

  5. I don’t think I’ll ever forget watching you and Jammie plow through that cream-drizzled, sweet-potato-crusted casserole-pizza. Such enthusiasm. Such vigor. But, as you might have guessed, I’m gonna have to stick with on this one.

    Again, Kangnam sends you it’s warmest greetings…

  6. Melissa! the bbq is an acquired taste… at least it was for me…. If you are largely veggie this would be a tough one.. some of the fusion dishes is where I would start… then you can go full-fledged Korean when you’ve got your feet wet:)

  7. Thanks bro… definitely miss hanging out… am flirting with posting the pic of you passed out by all that food… objections?

  8. Happy New Year, Björn! I’m hungry. Good thing to ask if I love-hate 김치 (kimchi). I’m actually not too big a fan (being Korean-American and all), but my mom was just telling me how I should incorporate more Korean food into my diet, this over the holidays! I actually read about the kimchi-bulgogi hot dogs in, I think you mentioned, GQ? Maybe the dogs (née tacos) were in Details? Nylon? I want to try it, bad. I also want to try pizza with such abominable as 고구마 (goguma)! Alright, time to go eat…

  9. Matthew! I’ll have to check out Details… I only came across the GQ article and then went online for the rest… this was all inspired by a recent Seoul trip. Seriously non-stop eating. Happy New Year!

  10. k, so, i’ve missed SO MANY of your blogs, but, i’ll get caught up. someday. you crack me up, Bjorn!

    just here to say i LOVE Korean BBQ and eat an appropriate tho limited variety of sides. for two years now, my birthday restaurant of choice has been The Corner Kitchen in Koreatown LA where Bill, me & the boys are the ONLY non-filipinos present. i completely indulge my inner carnivore there. it’s handy when someone else does the cooking @ our table tho, like, a nice waitress with a bit of time on her hands. i’m not so good at that part.

    i have only seen a Kogi truck once (besides the mobile pic on someone’s facebook page). unfortunately, we had just been out to eat and were returning home late w/full bellies and no desire to chase down that truck moving in the opposite direction from us. Someday.

  11. First thing I said after eating Kimchi was, “where have you been all my life!” Korean food is the best! Korean food in a soft shell taco sounds overwhelming!

  12. sadly not anymore. wish i was though. i am at plymouth state university working towards a masters degree in heritage studies and secondary education. i miss taiwan a lot, especially the food! I wonder what would happen if we put stinky tofu in a soft taco shell?

  13. Korean is my all-time favorite food. Courtesy of Seoul Garden in South Bend, IN!!! Glad to see it’s catching.

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