One of the most persistent food trends of recent years in the US has been the emergence of the Korean taco truck. Part of a wider street food movement, outfits like Kogi BBQ in LA have arguably begun to redefine America’s culinary landscape and are known for creative and affordable food.
Although very much a bricks and mortar establishment, El Camion (Spanish for “truck”) takes inspiration from this ethos. This hole in the wall taco joint is part of Smokey Saloon’s Apgujeong branch, and features a simple menu with a Korean-Mexican flavour.
Their tacos – served with handmade corn tortillas, salsa and nachos -demonstrate a willingness to experiment. The carne asada comes with grilled pineapple and shredded cabbage, while another Taco uses thin slices of fatty Chadol beef to bring a Korean element to the wrap. A chicken taco takes this logic further, incorporating marinated chicken and pickled cabbage.
It’s by in large well conceived and nicely prepared stuff. They use quality ingredients, and the flavours are simple and complementary. I particularly enjoyed the hot, tart and herby salsa that came on the side. My only concern is that the portions tend towards the dainty.
The place itself also seems to suffer a little from proximity to it’s bigger brother next door. The last time was in I was ushered out and had to order and eat in the Smokey Saloon – not the worst thing in the world, but it kind of left me wishing I’d ordered a burger instead. This, and the disappearance from the menu of a promising looking kalbi taco (marinated chuck tender and sesame leaf) suggests to me that it is struggling to carve out it’s own identity.
Despite this however El Camion remains a promising addition to the Seoul taco scene. I’d just love to see them come out with the kind of multi-ingredient, belly busting burrito that would give the burger slingers next door a run for their money and bring them into their own.
Directions: Walk straight ahead from Exit 3 Apgujeong Station, turn left at the CGV, follow the road as it curves 45 degrees then take the first left.