With the plethora of food trucks in the Los Angeles area, it's very difficult to keep track of who's coming and going and which truck is new and which truck has said its last good-bye. To be honest, while I used to be an avid food truck follower, these days, I'm back to being a more sit down restaurant kind of gal. So when an email dropped in my in box with the subject header "culinary adventure with a not so ordinary food truck", it didn't interest me at first, but then I actually read it and it did get my attention.
The email was from Food Truck Owner/Chef Charles Slonaker and what I found intriguing was his culinary background. For the last few years, he's been traveling around the world cooking at different fine dining establishments including stints at Noma in Copenhagen and Commerc 24 in Barcelona as well restaurants in the states like Nobu 57 in NYC, Valentino in Las Vegas, and Joule in Seattle. That's a pretty impressive resume, but what threw me off a bit was in Charles' email, he included a menu that seemed very Asian and in fact, Korean-influenced. Considering his cooking background and his last name, I was curious as where this Asian influence came from, so I decided to check Go Chew out.
Imagine my surprise when I showed up with a friend and it turned out that Charles is actually Korean. He was adopted by non-Korean parents and in fact, his proud mom was there taking pictures. She's the one who told us that Charles took it upon himself when he got older to live in Korea for a year to learn the language, to learn Korean cooking and just in general, to get in touch with his cultural background. How awesome is that! As for the food truck name, "Go Chew" actually refers to the word, "gochu", which is Korean for chili pepper and Go Chew's food focus is on rice bowls and sides.
Now that you've learned a little more about Charles and Go Chew, let's talk about the food, starting with their Fried Chicken Bowl which had a jidori leg and thigh, green onion salsa, pickled daikon, egg yolk and rice. First, the chicken was fried just right with both a crispy skin and tender, moist chicken meat. I liked the tartness of the daikon and the poached egg was a wonderful touch. However, I did have an issue with the rice, which was too mushy and when mixed with the egg yolk, it got even mushier. So that's something that needs to be fixed.
Next we tried the Rice Cake Bowl with rice cakes, chili sauce, egg, pork, bean sprouts and sesame seeds. Hands down, this was my favorite. I think the rice cakes were slightly fried, so there was a crispness to their surface that I liked. Also, the chili sauce was so nicely balanced. It was spicy, but not burn your tastebuds spicy and overall, simply delicious. Everything just mixed together so well that every bite was a pleasure for my palate.
Another dish that I really enjoyed was Go Chew's Fried Cauliflower with fried garlic and Chinese chives. Cauliflower on its own is quite bland, but this bowl of veggies was a hit. I have complained about dishes in the past that were supposed to have garlic but didn't taste garlicky enough; however, no complaint here. There was garlic love all the way.
Next to last was the Shorty Bowl with short rib, black bean and oyster glaze, shitake mushroom, kimchi, egg and rice. I have to admit that I expected a bit more from this bowl. The overall flavor was good and this rice bowl has potential, but the rice again was a big issue. In fact, it had gotten even mushier since we had the Fried Chicken Bowl earlier. As for the short rib, it was nice and tender, but dry.
Last, but not least was the Spicy Soup with a pork and chicken broth, tofu, kimchi, egg and shredded pork. The broth was absolutely wonderful. It was initially light and clean; yet, it had a nice spicy kick to it. When the poached egg was broken into and mixed into the soup, then it had an added richness which was really tasty.
Overall, except for a few things that could be fixed very easily, I thought the food coming from the Go Chew truck was really delicious. In fact, it's been awhile since I've enjoyed food from a food truck as much as I did that afternoon. I only have one minor critique. Simply, I would have liked to see more variety in terms of the dishes. Specifically, I'd love to see food with inspiration coming from some of the restaurants that Charles has worked at. Maybe, that's what's coming next.
Go Chew Food Truck