Kor-BQ Is Betting Against the Tasty Odds

A food trend that came to the fore in 2009 has found a tenuous foothold in Plano. In February of that year, The New York Times ran a profile of Roy Choi and his Kogi BBQ food truck. This Los Angeles novelty traded (and does so now in a fleet) in Korean tacos, a fusion of Korean ingredients and tortillas. This write-up was a clarion call for foodies and those who see dollar signs in keeping up with the Johnsons. Choi now oversees a media-darling empire.

Since then, Korean taco operations have popped up and rolled out from coast to coast and, closer to home, in Austin. In the latter city, Chi'Lantro BBQ has found nothing but success. Nevertheless, latching on to the next big thing doesn't ensure riches. TaKorea, another Austin K-taco purveyor, folded in July 2010, five months after beginning operation.

It wasn't until late October that the metroplex got its first taste of K-tacos with Kor-BQ. Kor-BQ owner Eric Park is already in jeopardy. He and partner Sean Choi are in the midst of a dispute with the contractor that is holding up permanent fixtures -- like a grill. Right now, Park and his cooks prepare the meat on portable griddles. The fridge is a glorified dorm-room beer cooler. The sign on the door claims the restaurant is open seven days a week, but Kor-BQ is closed on Sundays until it installs a permanent grill.

These snafus have prevented the purchasing of wholesale ingredients. This is most evident in the sole tortilla option, a ductile yet sturdy flour job that is merely a vehicle for the powerful flavors present in the fillings and garnishes, chief among them then brilliant apple-soy sauce vinaigrette. The prohibition on wholesale items, Park states, means everything is fresh daily. "Kogi can't offer that."

If Park is worried, he's not ready to admit it. Upbeat and ready with a smile, he says he's confident in Kor-BQ. "We'd love to -- and plan to -- open other branches." I hope naivete, as my lunch companion noted, isn't part of the business plan. Shortly before 1 p.m., my friend and I were the only customers inside the former Marble Slab Creamery. Tucked behind a slew of other strip-mall restaurants, including a Mama's Daughter's Diner location, Kor-BQ is difficult to find

Park assures me things will work out. And when they do, he plans on expanding the menu. As it stands, on offer are four standard meats and one special, the best of which is the traditional Korean preparation of marinated short rib. The succulent beef shredded at the slight pressure from a molar. The pork is also stellar. The only detriments are the delicious and combustible salsa (damn near a palate killer) and the lack of a vegetarian option. A fiery tofu taco would certainly broaden the customer base.

What there is more of are non-taco options. The menu includes a selection of rice bowls, not to mention enthusiasm. The guys behind Kor-BQ have it in spades. I hope for their sakes and those of hungry area stomachs, enthusiasm is enough.

Kor-BQ 6505 W. Park Blvd, Suite 314, Plano 214-390-2850

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José Ralat Maldonado