It was a bright, chilly Sunday afternoon on a vegetarian week. We were headed home, very hungry and eager for a quick vegetarian lunch. Too hungry, we thought, to manage a decision-making process, we drove to Nob Hill and parked on Tulane just down the block from Tractor Brewing, intending to hit up whatever place grabbed our fancy first and had good vegetarian options - Fan Tang, maybe, or Flying Star.
But as we were parking, we spotted something we hadn't seen before - a Korean food truck parked outside Tractor. We figured there wouldn't be much in terms of vegetarian options, but curiosity overcame our hunger - I mean, if you'd asked us what was missing from the ABQ food truck scene, we'd probably have said a good Korean truck like we enjoyed in NYC - and we backtracked to check out the menu.
(By the way, in case you missed it, they have Korean chile-cheese fries - fries topped with green chile, cheese, kimchi, and your choice of beef or mushrooms. Does that sound amazing or what? A nice patron offered to let me try his when he saw me staring, and I regret to this very moment that I was too shy to take him up on the offer.)
After a bit of a wait - it was, after all, their first day, and they had a number of orders in - we received our Kim Bap and Rice & Kimchi, both served in classic paper boats. We had chosen the dandelion kimchi on our rice - never heard of such a thing before, so of course we had to choose it - and it was very good. I had feared it would be bitter, but it wasn't. The dandelion was delightfully crunchy and accented well by the hot, salty, sweet pepper paste that clung to it. A half-dozen meaty mushrooms completed a very satisfying trio. I have just one complaint, which is that the perfectly cooked rice had a tendency to stick to the paper lining of the boat, making it impossible to eat every single grain like we wanted to.
And last, the Kim Bap. In theory I love Kim Bap - a variety of vegetables rolled in rice and nori, fresh and uncomplicated - but in practice it often comes out bland and boring. Not here. The element that raised this to the best Kim Bap I've ever had was the house-pickled daikon. Crunchy, tart, and lively, it complemented everything else and really elevated the roll to "I don't want to eat this last bite because then it will be all gone" status. This despite the fact that the roll was not just delicious, it was also huge.
I can't wait to try Soo Bak again on a meat week. I bet those spicy pork tacos and marinated short ribs are incredible. They also have a daily special - sometimes it's kimchi stew, and apparently sometimes they branch out from Korean to other cuisines. Given the owner-operator's early childhood in Germany and international travel, I don't doubt they come up with some great and interesting specials.
Check out the menu on Soo Bak's website, and like them on Facebook to keep up with their schedule; the truck seems to hang out most often at Tractor and Free Radicals (a ridiculously cool clothing store on Yale), but they also hit Talin, Marble, La Cumbre, and Anodyne.