A short while ago, Korean food could only be enjoyed in one of those barbecue joints where you cook your own food and walk out reeking of it. Now, however, Korean dishes with a modern twist seems to be the new trend, and restaurants specialising in Korean cuisine that’s fused with another are appearing all over town. TaKorea, a new Mexican-Korean fast food joint, is just one such example.
From the junction of Wellington Street and Lyndhurst Terrace, TaKorea looks like a tiny little hole in the wall. Head down the steps to the basement, however, and you’ll be surprised to find quite a sizeable little restaurant with seating for about 20 people. The space is bright and colourful, having been painted by one of Korea’s favourite graffiti artists, Hong-Sik Kim.
The menu is very straightforward – you select the tacos, a burrito or a baap (rice) bowl, and then choose between kalbi beef, fried chicken, spicy pork or aubergine. Almost everything is prepared in-house using owner Ah Young and her husband’s family recipes. The kimchi, which obviously makes many appearances throughout the menu, is actually Ah-Young’s mother’s secret recipe.
Having at first ordered the kalbi beef in a burrito, Ah-Young popped her head out of the kitchen and recommended we try the kalbi beef tacos instead, claiming that they are her favourite. For me, personal recommendations add so much to a restaurant, so we took her suggestion and enjoyed some very interesting yet tasty beef tacos. The beef ribs were beautifully tender and doused in a sticky-sweet Korean barbecue sauce. We also couldn’t resist adding some butter kimchi to complete the dish. I happily ate one taco, and then found the sauce a little too sweet for my liking, so I’m not sure I could have managed all three.
The K-Pop chicken burrito consists of Korean fried chicken thigh with kimchi fried rice, cheese, sour cream and TaKorea sauce wrapped in a tortilla. Fried chicken isn’t necessarily something I crave, but when it’s done well it is one of life’s most satisfying things. TaKorea’s fried chicken was perfectly crispy and juicy beneath, making this a pretty decent burrito. I like my burritos to have a bit more of a kick to them though, and here, despite the Korean seasoning, I could barely detect a hint of spice.
Perhaps my favourite dish of the day was also probably the least healthy one: TaKorea kimchi fries smothered in cheese and spicy pork. Again, the sauce was rather sweet, but the salty chips and cheese balanced this nicely, making them annoyingly hard to resist.
For a very filling lunch, a couple of waters and a rather curious Korean soft drink called a Milkis (which actually I pre-purchased using a clever new foodie app called Sugar), we paid a total of around $270. TaKorea is certainly a lot of fun and it’s interesting to see how the two cuisines – rightly or wrongly – have been fused. I’d say there are better Korean joints in town and there are better Mexican joints too, but if you fancy simultaneously eating a bit of both, then give it a go, as you’d be hard pushed to find a better Korean-Mexican joint than this!
B/F, 55 Wellington Street
Tel: +852 2362 1999
Closed on Sundays