How Kogi Changed Food Service Forever
Los Angeles has long been famous for roaming taco trucks that service the myriad neighborhoods of this sprawling metropolis, serving classic Latino fare. L.A. is also known for its distinct Asian cuisine, which is often blended with more traditional American foods to create wonderful hybrids. Take, for instance, Korean BBQ, a hot food trend in America as it is, and blend that with the classic Mexican taco and a tantalizing blend of tangy, slightly spicy meats and sesame vegetables is created.
This perfect storm resulted in the Kogi Taco Truck, sensation on the L.A. streets that has kicked off one of the hottest national trends in food service: mobile cuisine. The Kogi menu was developed by local professional chef Roy Choi, a heavy hitter in the culinary world in his own right, and the result has been almost unanimously delicious. But the unique menu and tasty menu doesn’t even begin to explain why people are waiting in line for 2 hours just to eat a couple Korean tacos.
A combination of 21st century technology and a classic cultural icon have combined to make Kogi Korean BBQ the social phenomenon it is today. The icon is the traveling truck that serves Kogi’s now famous tacos. Taco trucks have always held a special place in the hearts of L.A.’s denizens, and when the Kogi truck started showing up in hip neighborhoods, sometimes drawing crowds large enough to force a disperse order from local police, street cred was definitely cemented.
The most fascinating aspect of the rise of Kogi is how modern technology has fanned the flames to make Kogi a phenomenon across L.A. Co-founders Mark and Caroline Manguera use Twitter, a social networking site that uses instant and text messaging to connect people, to alert Kogi fans on where and when the Kogi truck will be rolling through their neighborhood. Caroline maintains a blog devoted to all things Kogi, and is quick to comment whenever other food related blogs post about the Korean BBQ taco truck, and the company has a website and presence on other social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.
The full utilization of these cutting edge networking tools has resulted in a young, hip crowd of Kogi faithful that use the internet and their cell phones to locate the Kogi truck and descend upon it with their friends wherever it stops. The fact that Korean BBQ tacos are genuinely good undoubtedly forms the core of Kogi’s success, but it is equally certain that a tech savvy approach to the familiar taco truck, a long-time customer favorite, has rocketed Kogi into the stratosphere of cutting edge food service concepts.
Since Kogi blew up in L.A. in early 2009, savvy entrepreneurs from Seattle to Washington D.C. have begun making the rounds in their own neighborhoods. The cuisine is as varied as the places these mobile food trucks go, but they all have one thing in common: a dependence on social media to get the word out.
Let's face it: a truck serving food is not all that new. What is new is how sites like Twitter and Facebook have provided concepts like Kogi a channel to capture the attention of a whole new generation of customers. You can be sure there will be more food trucks in your neighborhood in the near future.
What do you find interesting about this article?
Could something like this become popular in your area? Why or why not?
Describe some of the hottest trends in cuisine in your area?
What are your favorite types of cuisine?
L.A. = Los Angeles
BBQ = barbecue
The “hip crowd” is that subgroup of a larger society who are 'aware of or following the latest trends in music, ideas, fashion, etc'.