Vancouver, BC: Coma Food Truck

By Mijune | FollowMeFoodie.com

Restaurant: Coma Food Truck
Cuisine: Korean/Mexican/Fusion/Food Truck
Last visited: July 29, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Robson Street/Downtown)
Address: Outside Library Square – Homer & West Georgia (On Homer)
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3.5
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Korean-Mexican-American fusion
  • Lots of variety for food truck
  • Affordable menu
  • Good portions
  • Some authentic Korean dishes
  • Korean chef and owner
  • Home made kimchi and sauces
  • Quality ingredients
  • Beef and pork menu
  • Vegetarian options
  • Daily specials
  • Cheap eats/budget friendly
  • 15% off with own plate
  • Some packaging is biodegradable

**Recommendations: Kalbi Burger, Korean BBQ Burrito

I’ve been meaning to try Coma Food Truck since it opened. I was invited for the opening, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to check it out until now. With @DennisPang‘s last minute organization for a foodie get together, and an extended invitation from the chef and owner of Coma, I finally made it! It’s so embarrassing it took so long, but all that matters is that I made it. I actually like trying places after they open anyways because the menu often changes and recipes and prices are still getting tweaked, so I find later experiences more representable. That’s not my reason for postponing my visit though.

So why Coma? At first I thought it was referring to food coma, which I’ve experience all too many times, but I’m actually way off track. The “Co” is for “Korean” (yeah that’s a confusing one), then the “m” is for Mexican and the “a” is for American. It’s a fusion or words which represent the food and flavours at Coma Food Truck.

Fusion. It’s a popular concept in Vancouver, but so few so restaurants can do it right. Quite often our concept of “fusion” is actually just a switch up of ingredients rather than fusing the techniques of two cuisines together. To be fair, I’m not going to get that technical at a food cart, but I do find a lot of the offerings Mexican items, but made with Korean ingredients (switch up).

Personally I’m not a huge fan of any Asian fusion except for Japanese, just because I usually find any other attempts at Asian fusion overpriced and under delivered. However keeping an open mind and knowing what to expect, I was looking forward to Coma Food Truck and its Korean-Mexican-American menu.

I was anticipating everything to be fusion, so I was surprised to see a couple very traditional Korean items. I was told by chef, who is formally trained in French cooking, that his mother actually helps him out with the Korean side of things since it’s not his specialty. I actually really respect that because it just shows that extra effort of trying to bring traditional Korean flavours to a presumed non-Korean clientele.

I didn’t have much expectations for the food, but when I go to food carts, I’m a lot less picky and I look at it more from a portion and value perspective. Of course flavour has to be there, but when I’m going for street food, I go in with a different mind set. With that being said his biodegradable products and 15% off offer for bringing your own plate didn’t go unnoticed.

I found the prices generally fair and the portions generous, and it’s a respectable attempt to popularize Korean cuisine without “dumbing it down” too much. At times I did feel it was a bit repetitive with “mix and match” ingredients, and I did get lost in the concept of whether it was more traditional Korean of Korean fusion. Some of the Korean-Mexican food just seemed a bit Mexican to me, although nothing I had was bad.

As for the Korean items, I found it was more finely executed and there was more to show off, but I was perhaps more satisfied with the heartiness of the fusion stuff. It was definitely more on the sweeter side compared to most authentic Korean food, which is perhaps even tangier and spicier than this was, but it was still good. I use the word “authentic” lightly, but if something is called “authentic” I will compare it to authentic. Oh and just a side note, but Korean food is spicy and quite garlicky, so be prepared with your mints.

On the table:

**Kalbi Burger (Special of the Day) - 5/6

  • Kalbi marinade 100% brisket, pickled cabbage, red onions, pickle, brioche buns, chipotle mayo & vine tomatoes (Korean-American fusion) $8.99
  • He only made 8 for the day, and I was very happy to get one. This was my favourite item.
  • The burger seemed so predictable and without the recommendation I wouldn’t have ordered it.
  • I wasn’t expecting any fireworks and it looked really ordinary, but it knocked my socks off!
  • I’ve had a Kimchi Burger before from Celadon Fine Korean Cuisine – see here, but this one was even better and half the price.
  • I found this burger absolutely delicious, although overpriced. I would definitely order it again in a restaurant, but at a food truck I’d order it for $7.
  • Of course the ingredients and labour were there, and the standards met restaurant potential, but still.
  • The meat was incredibly tender, chunky and definitely on the sweet side. It was juicy and the most prominent flavour.
  • There were sweet pickled cucumbers and pickled red onions to give it a good tang to cut through the sweetness so it’s also quite a tangy burger. A lot of Korean food is very tangy.
  • The vine ripened tomatoes were a step up and appreciated although regular tomatoes would do the job if that meant lowering the price.
  • After the sweetness was a slight heat from the chipotle mayo, but it was never really spicy and quite mild.
  • Although soft, the only thing I didn’t like was the brioche bun which I honestly thought was just a regular sesame burger bun. It was a bit sweet, but it just wasn’t a great quality brioche bun and it’s likely a generic wholesale one.

**Korean BBQ Burrito4/6

  • 12 inch tortilla with vegetables, kimchi, corn, tofu, cheddar Jack cheese. Choose your Korean style of proteins (spicy pork or BBQ Bulgogi beef) wrapped as burrito. (Korean-Mexican fusion) $5.99
  • This didn’t sound odd to me at all and I didn’t even question the combination of ingredients.
  • This was very good, but I didn’t find there was anything really Korean about it.
  • It just tasted like a breakfast burrito with maybe a little Asian flavour from the sauces.
  • It was almost last night’s dinner wrapped in a burrito. It was filling, satisfying and good, but also something I could make at home.
  • I loved the layer of melted Cheddar cheese, sweet onion and corn and crunch of kimchi and shredded carrots, but the flavour of the kimchi wasn’t noticeable and I just thought it was sauteed vegetables with a bit of heat and mild pickled flavour.
  • I was happy to see no rice as a filler and there was a ton of meat and I didn’t even know that the fluffy soft tofu was tofu, and I though it was scrambled egg. It would have been even better with scrambled eggs!
  • It wasn’t a soggy or wet burrito which I really liked, but I did find the beef quite chewy and dry, but in the context of the burrito it wasn’t as noticeable with all the other ingredients and sauce.
  • The kimchi in this compared to a more traditional style kimchi was a bit mild, although I could see why it has to be less spicy and garlicky for the clientele.
  • It’s not really spicy at all, but there’s just a warm heat that lingers afterward.
  • It may sound “fusion”, but it doesn’t taste very fusion. It’s really non-offensive and easily enjoyed even by non-adventurous eaters.

Bibimbap3/6

  • Korean Healthy Rice Bowl – 7 varieties of vegetables, Korean ground beef, and an egg with rice and spicy Kochujang (Gochujang) sauce (fermented chili paste) and hint of sesame oil. Served with Korean miso soup. $6.99
  • This is a really popular item, but personally it’s not something I would order.
  • I’m more of the type to go to an actual Korean restaurant and order this as take out if I were to order it “on the go”.
  • Since it’s a traditional Korean dish that’s authentically served in a hot sizzling stone bowl, which helps with the flavour and texture of crisping up the rice, it was hard to let go of those cravings.
  • Being that this was coming from a food truck, it was a respectable attempt and version, but personally I’d chose something else.
  • It’s wood ear mushrooms, bean sprouts, Shiitake mushrooms, sweet marinated cucumbers, pickled carrots, picked daikon, ground pork, Gochujang sauce and a “fried” egg (which seemed microwaved) on top of rice.
  • All the components are premade that morning and assembled upon order, and kudos to the amount of ingredients and presentation, but it was served almost room temperature and I prefer it hot.

  • You mix everything together before enjoying it, and traditionally I would press the rice to the sides of the stone bowl to let it crisp up.
  • It was a salad on top of rice and there’s a lot of rice, so it’s as “healthy” as not taking the rice into consideration.
  • The rice was chewy and almost like a Japanese style rice, but without the flavourings of sugar and rice vinegar. The texture was the same though.
  • I could have used more ground beef which was topped with Gojuchang sauce and found underneath the egg.
  • For some reason the egg just looked and tasted a bit plasticky, but after it was mixed in I didn’t notice it as much.
  • I loved the crunch and variety of the vegetables and if I didn’t see the pork, I might have thought it was vegetarian. It’s still enjoyable vegetarian though.
  • The Gochujang is what makes this rice bowl.
  • If you’ve never had Gochujang sauce, it’s pretty much one of the best hot sauces ever.
  • It’s one of my favourite sauces in general and it makes everything taste good.
  • It’s a spicy fermented soy bean paste and it’s one of Food Network’s top 5 ingredients of 2011.
  • It’s very potent, sweet initially, very salty and a flavourful spicy. It’s rich, creamy and relatively thick and if Frank had this, he’d pour this s*** over everything.

Korean Miso Soup – 3.5/6

  • It’s a small cup of Korean style Miso soup and it’s richer and creamier than the Japanese kind.
  • For what it is, it’s a well made Korean Miso soup, although not something that’s a must try alone.
  • It’s a bit sweeter and rich with mushroom flavour and has the background of seafood from the fresh kelp.
  • The  Enoki mushrooms and fresh kelp are naturally a bit slimy in texture and there’s also bits of firm tofu throughout.
  • It wasn’t too salty and it’s actually a very flavourful soup and I’d consider it quite hearty as a Miso soup.

BibimNaengMyun (Cold Soba Noodles)3.5/6

  • Cold Soba noodles with cabbage, pickled daikon, cucumber and egg with Korean fermented spicy and sweet sauce $6.99
  • It’s a cool down dish on a hot summer’s day, but I’m used to getting these noodles after Korean hot pot.
  • Authentically it’s made with potato noodles, or buckwheat noodles which helps with digestion, but the soba was I guess the fusion twist.
  • There were big round ice cubes floating in the sauce which really caught me off guard and I wasn’t expecting them. I can’t say it was too appetizing, but I guess they served a purpose and had to be there to keep it cold on a hot day.
  • This one had a ton of noodles and usually there’s much more sauce or soup, like the one below. (The one above and below are two different orders of the same thing.)

  • The noodles were a bit overcooked and too soft for my liking, but they were previously chilled which was great.
  • It was another sweet dish and this one I would actually consider spicy.
  • It’s not hot, but it’s very flavourful spicy and initially you would just think it’s sweet until the heat picks up afterward.
  • It’s more sweet than anything at first, but it was spiciest of everything I tried.
  • It was very refreshing and cooling and the crunch of the pickled daikon, julienne carrots and sweet cucumber slices were a fantastic contrast to the noodles.
  • The broth is essentially made from Gochujang paste and perhaps some ground sesame seeds because it had texture along with lots of flavour.
  • I could certainly drink the sauce and it tastes almost just like a spicy nutty version of a Japanese sunomono meets Szechuan or Shanghainese tan tan noodles, but less creamy and nutty than the latter.
  • The sauce is a bit thicker and richer than a sunomono base, but it’s not oily, greasy or heavy so I really liked that.
  • This also had a lot of aromatic sesame oil and garlic which is delicious, but I guarantee garlic and sesame breath after this… so bring your mints.

KIMCHI Quesadilla - n/a

  • Chipotle tortilla with sauteed vegetables, corn, cheese, my home made kimchi, tofu, and my own salsa roja (spicy with hint of Korean flavors). The item credit goes to the famous Chef Roy Choi, the inventor of Kogi BBQ truck, however this is a reinterpretation of my own style of quesadilla. (Korean Mexican fusion) $5.99
  • I only had a bite of this which isn’t enough to actually “rate” it, but I felt like it was the most regular and predictable of everything I tried.
  • I’d rather go for the burrito, since this was similar, but this had less filling and the quesadilla got a bit soggy.
  • It was not bad, but not special so I probably wouldn’t order it.

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Posted by on Aug 14 2011. Filed under Latest News, Owner / Operators, Vancouver. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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