9.01.2011

Food Truck Q & A: TaKorean

TaKorean owner Mike Lenard shows off some of his truck's "taKos."


Photo courtesy of Dos Gildas



In the next round of food truck Q&As is TaKorean, which serves up a blend of Korean barbecue and Mexican with its uniquely named “taKos.”

Made with either bulgogi steak, chicken or caramelized tofu, the truck’s taKos are all topped with sriracha, lime crema, cilantro and sesame seeds. Customers also get a choice of a spicy kimchi-style slaw or a Napa-romaine slaw, which is tossed in a rice vinegar, lime and sesame oil vinaigrette.

Owner Mike Lenard is committed to serving customers good quality, unique food that they can’t find in fast food restaurants. He attributes the seemingly endless culinary options that roam the streets of DC to the industry’s success and believes it is one of the indicators that food trucks are more than just a fleeting trend.

But Lenard acknowledges that the business can be tricky. “It's very important to do the due diligence at every step of the process and figure out if this is the right business for you and your concept,” he says. “There is a lot to know and a lot to think about that many people don't think about,” when getting into the food truck business.

Engine problems, for one. Lenard says he has dealt with some of the worst mechanical issues of any food truck on the streets.

Despite any transmission troubles and engine failures, TaKorean continues to please the taste buds of DC with its brand of fusion food.

Q: When did your truck first hit the road? And why did you want to open one?
A: We opened on Aug. 31, 2010. I wanted to start a mobile vending business because it could allow me to grow my brand and offer my food to a wide and diverse audience while activating public space and creating a new cultural fabric for our city.


Q: Why do your menu items work, sold from a food truck?
A: Serving the right kind of food is a very important decision for people in this industry. Your food can be amazing, but if it's not conducive for the truck business model, you won't make profits.

Our food, Korean barbecue “taKos” are easy to custom assemble for customers, and all of the food is grilled fresh every few minutes so customers can spend less time waiting and more time eating and enjoying their lunch breaks. Also, the taco concept has always been strong in street vending across the West Coast.

Q: Do you ever change the menu?
A: We haven't changed the basic menu at all since we've opened, except adding the "taKo bowl" concept, which is essentially just leaving out the tortillas. We do offer specials such as Korean-style roasted pork, braised short ribs, and Thai peanut shrimp all in tacos.

Q: What’s the biggest difference between a food truck and a stationary restaurant, besides that one is on wheels?
A: Food trucks have the ability to do more for the community in activating public space and bringing people food where they want it.

Restaurants have the upper hand as far as profits and volume goes. They have the capacity to serve several times the amount of people in a sh ort amount of time, and they also are less dependent on weather and seasonality.

Q: Why do you think food trucks have grown in popularity? And what do you think the future is for food trucks?
A: Food trucks have grown for many reasons, but most importantly because they've offered consumers more choice and to be quite honest — better choice.

The truck thing is a great trend for sure, but the reason the trucks are as popular as they are is because they serve great food and often times better and more interesting food than you can get in fast food restaurants in the same areas.

Q: What’s the worst mechanical problem you have faced?
A: You can ask any food truck owner and most will say that I've had the most trouble of all of them.

I'd say the worst was when I needed a new engine, transmission and carburetor, and the mechanic didn't do half of it.

My truck is a lemon, but we've dealt with it as well as we can. The truck is as healthy as ever right now.

Q: What’s the favorite part of your day when you are out on the truck?
A: Serving the customers, hands down. No comparison to doing dishes or chopping cilantro. We live to serve our customers.

Also check out:
Food Truck Q & A: Basil Thyme
Food Truck 5 Bites: Red Hook's Leland Morris
• Food Truck Q & A: Red Hook Lobster Pound








Katie Bascuas has lived in D.C. for the past year and a half, and when she isn’t working or traveling, she loves exploring new restaurants, farmers markets and bars in the city. A graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Katie also enjoys writing about food and is excited to be contributing to Metrocurean.







Also check out:
Food Truck Q & A: Basil Thyme
Food Truck 5 Bites: Red Hook's Leland Morris
• Food Truck Q & A: Red Hook Lobster Pound








Katie Bascuas has lived in D.C. for the past year and a half, and when she isn’t working or traveling, she loves exploring new restaurants, farmers markets and bars in the city. A graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Katie also enjoys writing about food and is excited to be contributing to Metrocurean.






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