Yesterday, we received some nice media coverage, courtesy of John T. Edge over at the New York Times. You can read the article here. It follows a trend of past coverage that both KOi and Korean fusion as a genre have received over the last year, and it now appears that the concept of “fusion” has become a full-on epidemic in the US. Following the original Kogi model, trucks have started popping up over the past year, spanning the country– from Midwestern locales like Indianapolis and Oklahoma, all the way to Atlanta, New York, and of course California. Our very own city, Portland, has even received some increased competition over the past year, as no fewer than four Korean barbecue competitors have rolled into town.
What does it all mean? It’s something we as a team have talked about more recently. When we started, the concept of the Korean taco was strictly the domain of Kogi and LA. We were one of the first to take Roy Choi’s pioneering vision and mold it into our own concept; using his blueprint, we ran with the idea and re-invented the recipes so that they tasted uniquely KOi. One of the reasons we’ve been successful in this new sea of competition has been a consistent adherence to our original vision.
By sticking with the homemade marinades that only Mama Kwon knows the recipe to, using locally-sourced tortillas and tacos, only buying fresh, local vegetables, and only selecting the highest quality meats to buy, we’ve been able to consistently deliver the best Korean BBQ in Portland, even as we’ve expanded over the past year.
Everything we serve is cooked to order, and when you come to KOi, you know everything you eat has been grilled, chopped, diced, and prepared that day. It’s not a marketing gimmick–it’s the only way we know how to do business, and we refuse to change our commitment to those ideals.
As the genre continues to grow and expand, we’ve prepared ourselves for the inevitable increase in competition by making sure we continue to do the best everyday. As Bo said to the New York Times, we’ve built our business not on trying to be just another Kogi, but by taking the idea of the Korean taco and “Portlandizing” it. Our marinades, tortillas, meat, and recipes are unique to KOi. We have much love for the growing legion of Korean taco trucks across the country; but for us, it’ll always be a KOi and Portland way of doing things–and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Love, Peace, and Taco Grease,
Scott, Team KOi