I’ve returned to sunnier Hawaii from sunny California. I could have sworn months had gone by since my last entry, but after settling in I realized it had only been about a week. A very long and eventful week at that, I might add. My trip to California was my first trip in about two years and although it was relaxing and well-deserved, I must say it feels good to be home (minus the 3 hour jetlag that keeps waking me up at 6 in the morning). Can you blame me though? I live in Hawaii.
I’m half-joking. It’s not even about the fact that I live in Hawaii, it’s just the fact that I’m home and within my comfort zone. You know how it goes, don’t you? The long plane rides, the heavy suitcase, the uncomfortable jetlag, the exhausting driving, the general unfamiliarity of a place you have not been to in a while, or ever. Nonetheless, as anyone may have already assumed, food was undeniably an integral part of our daily agenda and it was also incontestably a major highlight of our week-long trip.
One of our first meals was supposed to be at food network’s acclaimed Café Des Artistes, however, we were most disappointed to discover upon arrival that they are only open for dinner. We clearly did not do our research properly. Luckily, as we sulked and moaned in our defeat, we found the Ahn-Joo truck right across the street!
Apparently food on-the-go has become extremely popular and pervasive within California. Hence, the currently never ceasing presence of many food trucks that have joined the trendy fleet. People are clearly compelled to track these trucks down over facebook and twitter in order to determine the next time and location since according to the concept, these trucks are always on-the-go. Initially, my friends and I had intentions of tracking down one truck only. That was the infamous Kogi Truck, but there were no complaints here as we did not have to mapquest our next destination.
“Ahn-joo” is a Korean term meaning “pupus” or refers to the foods you eat while drinking – bar foods or what have you. While different cultures have different ideas of what constitutes good food to accompany alcohol, Koreans definitely know what they like and are certainly sure of what tastes good when doing their favorite pass time, drinking -needless to say.
Chef Debbie Lee joined this truck food fleet with foods from her Southern-inspired Korean “sool-jeep” or bar and has made its big debut at the L.A. film festival. It definitely left an impression on us as customers. Although I’m not completely sure that I would find the location of this truck and track it down if it was out of the way, I do know that if it was ever around and in town, I’d already be on my way there. The service was terrific despite the unconventional set-up of this food joint. Everyone was extremely cheerful and hospitable, only enhancing our dining experience.
I think it’s because we’re Korean and accustomed to most of the food served by the truck that we weren’t totally blown away by the presentation of the food nor the menu. The taste and flavors involved were excellent, but I wouldn’t hunt down a truck to eat snack dishes such as kimbap (Korean sushi roll) or bibim kooksoo (spicy mixed noodles). Although, I would definitely go back to eat the Korean Nachos and try the enticing list of skewers on the menu. The Korean Nachos, which was like nacho ddukbokki (if that is even remotely fathomable) was an experience of its own. The dish was the most innovative approach to Korean-Mexican fusion and we were all definitely eager to devour it. The Kimchee Citrus-glazed Pork with Roasted Fuji Apples was also a refreshing twist to what is normally considered “ahn-joo.” I know that the next time I’m in Los Angeles, I definitely want to check out the restaurant/”sool-jeep” that started this Ahn-Joo truck craze. I wish there was something like that to spice up life on the island as well!