By Brett Ashley Hawkins
Though most of Signal Hill had their dinner before 9:30pm on Saturday, May 1, several citizens and visitors gathered at Quality Inn’s parking lot to line up at the Kogi food truck for theirs.
Kogi is a Korean barbecue mobile establishment with four trucks roaming Los Angeles and Orange Counties serving Mexican-inspired dishes with Korean twists. Heavily reliant on the Internet, Kogi announces the business hours and locations of their four trucks via their online site and through Twitter. Through these announcements and word-of-mouth, Kogi has an established customer base of more than 60,000 people with at least a hundred showing up at their Signal Hill stop between 9:30pm and 11:45pm.
Will Suh, the general manager of Quality Inn in Signal Hill, 3201 E. PCH, provided Kogi’s ties to their Signal Hill pit stops. Suh has maintained a friendship with Kogi owner and chef Roy Choi since childhood. “Both of our parents owned restaurants,” Suh said. “[Choi] originally had difficulty getting the permits required to host Kogi in Signal Hill, but now they’re here every other Saturday.” (The next scheduled Quality Inn pitstop is Saturday, May 22.)
Kogi usually has one of their trucks in service close to the 22 Freeway in such cities as Westminster, Garden Grove, and Orange. James Watford of Garden Grove drove out to Signal Hill that night to get his fix. “On a weekend night, I’ll check the Twitter and go to the closest location to my house,” he said. “It’s become somewhat of a ritual for my friends and me, but I have no problem going alone. It’s that good.”
The menu consists of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and other classic American and Mexican dishes combined with Korean beef, chicken, spicy pork, or tofu. And for dessert, Kogi offers a tres leches cake made with spiced peanut brittle, toffee, Cocoa Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, cayenne, cinnamon, condensed milk, tapioca milk, and chocolate made by Beth Kellerhals, Kogi’s dessert and pastry chef. Prices range between $3 and $7 per item.
Despite a rather long line, Long Beach resident Courtney Yi found adventure in Kogi’s notorious wait time. “It’s all about the experience,” she claimed. “You are crowded by strangers who aren’t really strangers when you realize you’re all there for the same thing, and therefore you have something in common. Discussion and getting to know people you haven’t met help speed up the process and, once you do get there, the result is quite a reward.”
The whereabouts of Kogi’s trucks can be found at kogibbq.com or twitter.com/kogibbq.