TNT Diner

Korean burger food truck now open in Tacoma

The Bulgogiger comes with thinly sliced marinated rib-eye with Korean pickles, a creamy dressing and leaf lettuce on a toasted brioche bun. Find the burger at Burger Seoul, which opened last week at the corner of South Prospect and South 19th Streets in Tacoma.
The Bulgogiger comes with thinly sliced marinated rib-eye with Korean pickles, a creamy dressing and leaf lettuce on a toasted brioche bun. Find the burger at Burger Seoul, which opened last week at the corner of South Prospect and South 19th Streets in Tacoma. skidd@thenewstribune.com

Who cares that it’s been raining near nonstop for weeks.

Tacoma is an alfresco dining sort of town. Yes, even in December.

In what’s becoming a winter tradition, another food truck has opened.

It’s a Korean American mashup called Burger Seoul.

The truck officially opened Saturday at South 19th and South Prospect streets (but has been quietly serving for more than a week). It’s on the streetside corner of a convenience store parking lot.

The menu lists four Korean-themed burgers ($6-$7), and they come dressed with sauces made from gochujang, crunchy lettuce and pickled Korean cucumbers that tasted straight out of South Tacoma Way.

And speaking of which, Burger Seoul feels like a little slice of Lakewood’s Korean dining district transported to the edge of Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. Beyond South Tacoma Way, Korean food is in short supply in Pierce County, which is why I pounce on any glimmer of Korean cuisine when I find it outside Lakewood’s city limits.

The truck is owned by Young La, and the menu and concept are duplicates of the first food truck he opened in Seoul after he graduated from Pierce College and returned to South Korea.

If it seems Burger Seoul is pulling a page right out of the Roy Choi playbook, it’s true. Choi is founding chef of Korean taco truck Kogi, credited with recharging this country’s interest in street food. La considers Choi an inspiration.

Like Choi, La melds the Korean food he grew up eating with a secondary cuisine (Choi combines tacos and Korean; La does the same with American burgers).

And like Choi, family recipes fuel his palate. Several recipes come from La’s mother.

It’s this paper’s policy to withhold criticism of food and service until after a restaurant’s first month, which is why I’m focusing on menu and food descriptions only here.

A vegetarian burger will be available closer to spring. It will be a patty of ground Korean beans, mushrooms, egg and cheese.

Find burgers with decidedly Korean flavoring. The Bulgogiger ($7) was thinly sliced, grilled rib-eye with a marinade that slipped between salty and sweet, which unexpectedly turned out to be a sturdy companion for the cool crunch of spicy pickled Korean cucumbers and the squishy resistance of a brioche bun.

The Fire Soul Burger ($6) is thinly sliced pork with hot sauce, arugula and Korean cucumbers. The Seoul Burger ($7) is a more traditional burger with a half-pound patty ground from Korean short ribs and chuck beef (which La said he buys from Tacoma’s Dave’s Meat and Produce).

A vegetarian burger will be available closer to spring. It will be a patty of ground Korean beans, mushrooms, egg and cheese. There’s also either sweet potato or garlic butter fries ($3).

So about the weather. Yes, it’s cold. And raining. But that’s never stopped a food truck from opening in the winter around here. Burger Seoul doesn’t have much overhead protection from the rain or real seating. That means this is a car-eating adventure, so come equipped for “dining en auto” or alfresco tailgating. Your call.

Burger Seoul

Where: 1750 S. Prospect St., Tacoma.

Information: 253-326-3613, facebook.com/burger.seoul.

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