The concept of the Korean taco is not new -- it was born in Los Angeles at the Kogi BBQ truck in 2008 -- but this is its first appearance in Madison. A new food cart serving them recently opened and is parking weekdays at UW Library Mall near Lake Street.
The basic idea is to feature Korean-barbecue-style meats (bulgogi is grilled marinated beef), usually with a sweet soy-ginger vibe. The meat is stuffed in a taco shell and then topped with a relish or a slaw that might be more Korean, like a kimchee, or more Mexican, like a salsa, depending on the style of the vendor.
Bulgogi Korean Taco offers steak, chicken or tofu in a choice of flour or corn tortilla, and the topping is a simple lettuce/scallion/tomato/cilantro/bean-sprout mix that's more Middle American than it is either Asian or Mexican. Ordered with the plain canvas of the flour tortilla, the taco is reminiscent of moo shu served on thin pancakes. There's a bottle of Korean red pepper paste available for fans who want to add some heat, but it's not going to transform the salad topping into kimchee. Or salsa.
The cart, formerly Electric Earth Cafe, has not actually changed ownership -- just the look and concept. Because of that, it was decided that the number of years of seniority would be retained, reports Madison street vending coordinator Warren Hansen.
The new menu items fared well in the city's 2013 food cart review, with the rankings for food alone (flavor, menu, presentation) placing the cart at #9 in a field of 53. Its overall ranking was 21.