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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Like Right on Rice

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante

Our weekly bite explores the city's food trucks, one at a time, highlighting our favorite mobile dishes and snacks.

The Truck: KoJa Kitchen

The Cuisine: Korean and Japanese

Specialty Item: KoJa Rice Cake Sandwiches

Worth the Wait in Line? Yes; the line and service move quickly.

It would be easy to pass on the KoJa Kitchen truck and convince yourself that it's okay. The first deterrent will most likely be the curl of 20 to 30 people waiting in a line that seems long, even with the encouraging pool of happy faces surrounding the pick-up window. Don't worry, it moves fast. The second will be the "Korean with a twist" aspect to the sandwiches, and you might be fooled into thinking you've tried something like this before. You haven't.

KoJa Kitchen combines Korean (the "Ko" in the name) with Japanese (the "Ja"), and those influences are most evident in the rice patties. They take the Japanese onigiri idea, putting it in Korean hot stone bowl dishes, like bibimbap, to toasty new heights.

The signature Korean BBQ Short Rib KoJa ($6.50) serves up a pair of griddled rice patties stuffed with tender, grilled, and boneless marinated beef, lettuce, and a drizzle of sweet katsu sauce. The filling has plenty of grilled flavor, but also a gravy-like quality that gives it some richness. Each bite is somewhere between a sandwich and a rice plate, making for cross-cultural harmony.

click to enlarge LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante

Even better is the vegan Teriyaki Zen with Pineapple KoJa ($5.50) option -- go ahead, rub your eyes in disbelief. It's not that the beef isn't good, it just that the portabella and tofu patty is so texturally perfect, savory, and balanced with the sweet ring of pineapple and teriyaki sauce that it's not a meat substitute, just a damn great sandwich.

If you insist on getting your meat on, do like we did and get the combo ($12.50) that gets you the KoJa sandwich, Kamikaze Fries (criss-cut Fries, Korean BBQ beef, sautéed onions, kim chi, green onions, signature sauce, Japanese mayo), and a drink.

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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