Follow that truck! Korean-Mexican fusion fare has been available for several months in the rainy Portland streets thanks to Koi Fusion, a roving taco truck that announces its afternoon and evening whereabouts via Twitter. Though keeping up with Koi Fusion’s changing location requires a bit of research, the sweet, spicy and (often) fermented joy ride for the taste buds is well worth the trouble.
Those without Twitter accounts are now in luck as Koi Fusion has landed in its first semi-permanent location. Embracing a current trend that’s similar to the “pop-up” retail model, wherein a business owner operates a retail shop or restaurant on a short-term basis in a vacant commercial space, Koi owner Bo Kwon has landed what he calls Koifusion@1 in the recently shuttered former home of the nightclub Solo at 1300 NW Lovejoy. Kwon subleased from the former occupant, made no tenant improvements, hired a small staff, and was fully operational days after taking possession. In an era when start-up capital is scarce even for established restaurant operators, Kwon’s turn-key concept is nothing short of brilliant. Already, he’s scouting additional locations.
The menu is mostly the same as the truck, but prices are slightly higher. The signature K-Tacos (3 for $9) come with your choice of beef, chicken, pork, or tofu coddled in a corn tortilla, capped with bean sprouts, then specked with cilantro, salsa, and a slice of lime. You may also try the mélange in burrito form for the same price. Also available are spicy-sweet potato fries served with a zippy mango ketchup ($5), the chili-spiced edamame ($3), and the addictive Korean Fried Chicken double-fried crispy wings tossed in a sticky-sweet-spicy glaze.
Unlike the taco truck, the physical location boasts a well-stocked bar, anchored by a house-infused mango pineapple vodka. The Koi Storm ($9) is for drinkers who fancy a tangy and tropical treat while the Summer Fling ($9) is a light and lovely creation made from cucumber lemonade. Be sure and order a kimchi quesadilla or Korean hot dog as an ideal companion to a divine drink.
Burned out on burritos? The K-Tacos make for a tasty lunch and happy hour option. Pay a visit to Koifusion@1 and belly up to the bar.