Back at the end of January, Jim and I headed to one of our favorite destinations, Asheville, NC. It was our 3rd visit in the last year and a half or so. We seriously love this city. The vibe, the beer, the support for everything local, and most importantly, the food. Now we have our favorite restaurants that we like to hit. Mayfel’s for breakfast (their bacon is stupid ridiculous delish), Doc Chey’s Noodle House (the wok seared green beans are a MUST HAVE), and Asheville Brewing for their dough knots (sorry Barley’s. Your fiddle sticks just don’t even compare). However, we had never had a food truck experience in Asheville. I had commented to Jim months ago that I saw a site that showed quite a few food trucks in Asheville despite that we had never seen one.
On the last visit to Asheville, we didn’t make it to a few breweries that Jim really had wanted to go to. Mainly, Wedge Brewery. So this visit we were going to make sure we hit their taproom which is in the art district of Asheville. In the process of looking up the time they opened on Saturday, I noticed that Wedge had listed the food trucks that they have on each day they are open. Saturday’s food truck happened to be one called “El Kimchi“. I think I may have actually squealed in delight when I told Jim that a food truck was going to be at the taproom! Finally, we were going to have a food truck experience in Asheville!
I have to say that I have been on quite a Korean/Asian food kick lately. Nashville’s food scene has just boomed with a variety of trucks offering Korean varieties from Korean Fried Chicken and Kimchi Waffle to Bulgogi Kimchi Fried Rice to the awesomeness that is the InterAsian Market. So when I saw it was a Korean/Mexican fusion truck, I was pretty excited. Jim is not only a fan of Korean food, but this kid could eat California burritos like all day long. He loves his Mexican food and more than that, he loves his taco trucks! So to have a truck melding both worlds at a brewery with ridiculous good beer? Fuhgettaboutit!!!!
We got there shortly after the brewery opened at 3. The truck was set to open their windows at 4. The aroma coming out of this truck was making me starved. After watching the initial rush of people go through the line, Jim and I finally sauntered up to the truck to check out the menu. Tacos, Tortas, Burritos, Quesadillas to the Asian style rice bowls and Bibimbap.
We perused the menu for a bit and then introduced ourselves to Jimmy Lee, who helps his parents (both born in Korea) and his sister, Iris, run the truck. First off, you know that I’ve said how important it is to have personality. Jimmy has the perfect food truck personality and was super friendly. So even before eating from the truck, I was already happy with the experience. Jimmy let us know that they actually do make their own Kimchi. He has been quoted (via Mackensy Lunsford on Mountain Xpress) as saying that his mom makes the best kimchi in the world! And she tries to use as many local ingredients as possible to do so. He did mention that there are about a dozen or so trucks there in Asheville.
After reviewing the menu, I decided to go with the Bulgolgi Bibimbap and a Kimchi pancake. Jim went with Spicy Pork Burrito.
Let me talk about the pricing for just a quick tangent second. While sometimes, when I walk up to a food truck, I think that perhaps they could come down $1 sometimes $2 on pricing. I did not have that feeling with El Kimchi. I felt their pricing was spot on. The more affordable the food, the more you’ll sell. Especially when it’s kick ass food!!! And El Kimchi is kick ass food at a decent price!! It’s like a one-two punch!
Now back to the food. A Kimchi Pancake is not something you see normally. Or at least I don’t. So I immediately knew I wanted it. While I think Jim was a little shocked and/or wary, he ended up eating 3/4 of the pancake in nearly one breath. It was THAT good!! Nice and a little crisp on the outside and perfectly pancakey in the middle. Kinda wish I had gotten two.
I ordered the Bulgolgi Beef Bibimbap. To the non-Asian eater, it is basically rice with your meat, carrots, cabbage, scallions, and then topped with lettuce, a fried egg, and chili sauce. As marked on their menu, this is an authentic Korean dish. My taste buds felt like they had died and gone to heaven. It’s an explosion of Asian flavors. Well worth the $8 for all the food you got. I was full and had leftovers that were enough for a second meal.
Jim ordered the Spicy Pork Burrito. When he brought the food back to the table and he opened his burrito, the first thing he said was “Man, that’s a legit Cali burrito right there.” Grilled to perfection with the tortilla crispy and the inside hot, again, the size of this burrito was worth every penny. Jim only ate half and had more for another meal.
I was lucky enough to have one bite of his burrito. I’m actually shocked that he offered to let me have a bite. But I will say, that the one bite I had was Korean-Mexican burrito perfection! Just know that this burrito is roughly the size of a little baby’s head. So make sure you 1. want leftovers or 2. have someone to share with.
There are so many menu items I would like to try. I’m really wanting to try the Kimchi Quesadilla or the Bulgolgi Beef Torta. I’m a total bulgolgi girl. I can’t help myself!!! I would have liked to have tried their dumplings as well which were the special of the day. But there is only so much food that Jim and I can reasonably split in one sitting without splitting our sides!!!
Even though Asheville is a healthy 4 hour drive (and you lose an hour, so technically 5 hour drive), it is a city that I plan to visit again before too long. So hopefully, I won’t have to wait too long until my next meal from Jimmy Lee and the El Kimchi truck!
If you are planning a visit to Asheville, or if you live in Asheville (lucky dogs!!!), I cannot stress ENOUGH how much you should follow them on Twitter or Like them on Facebook, and STALK them for lunch or dinner. I can tell you that they are Wedge Brewing Taproom on Mondays and Saturdays.
This is a food truck I wish were in Nashville. El Kimchi is El Awesome! Amazing Korean-Mexican Street Food has arrived to Asheville and I wish I could eat their food everyday.