Not So South-of-the-Border Tacos
From Turkish and Chinese to Vietnamese and Indian, there's more to the non-Mexican taco trend than Korean BBQ.
Forget about trying to avoid the Korean barbecue taco trend right now. Check the online food news dailies, and there it is: official word that New York's first Korean barbecue taco truck, Korilla BBQ, is up an running. Scan your Twitter feed around lunchtime, and you know which trucks are going to be where and what they are serving as a special that day. Maybe you even get the alerts directly to your phone.
This hype about Korean barbecue tacos distracts from the fact that it is part of a larger, growing trend of non-Mexican tacos that includes adaptations from a variety of international cuisines.
Granted, Korean barbecue aside, many of the latest fusion taco concepts seem to be drawing inspiration from the flavors and ingredients of Asian cuisine. On the menu at Don Chow Tacos, a "Chino-meets-Latino" mobile eatery that roves the streets of L.A. and Orange County, are fillers like Chinese BBQ Pork and Kung Pao Chicken. Also based out of L.A. is the Nom Nom truck, a recent contestant on the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race, which serves up Vietnamese tacos (lemongrass chicken, tofu, grilled pork) alongside the more traditional Banh Mi.
In Houston, Texas, one product of this tortilla-wrapped melting pot philosophy is Fusion Taco. The truck offers taco stuffers that range from a Tex-Mex-inspired Asian Fajita Beef, to Chicken Satay, and Indian beef short rib. L.A.'s Flying Pig Truck takes a similarly eclectic approach, fusing Asian and Pacific Rim flavors with French technique. The result? Items like tamarind duck tacos and red curry satay carnitas.
Interestingly, some of the latest entrants to the field have proven to be the most creative, testing green territory in the non-Mexican taco landscape. Paneer and halal ground beef tacos (not to mention Tikka Masala Burritos) from the Curry Up Now truck in San Francisco; barbecued beets and oak smoked short ribs from New York's 2010 Vendy nominee, Mexicue. Even Turkish cuisine has stepped into the ring now that New York City restaurant Pera has set up a four-wheeled kitchen in Central Park. Lamb BLT tacos anyone?