One of the great advantages of food trucks is that owners are on the truck daily. This brings a tight bond between the owner and their hungry patrons. Since many of us only get that small time between ordering and grabbing our food, I wanted to help bring us together. That’s when I got the idea, Behind The Wheel. Gets me back to telling the story and further enjoying – being around food trucks. This week I highlight BulKogi.
Everything happens for a reason.
When I see the flames on BulKogi’s logo, I don’t think of the hot, spicy food. I am reminded of the fictional character, The Phoenix. For those not familiar, BulKogi left the food truck scene. Started by the So family, it quickly became a popular truck thanks to its unique Korean food. It was so popular, they opened a storefront in Wake Forest. And then an unfortunate illness came and the family stopped operating the truck and soon the restaurant. It seemed all but a food truck memory.
How did the truck return to the food truck scene?
Joe Choi came from South Korea to Chicago, where he learned about food from his mother. His mother cooked in Korean and Japanese restaurants in the vibrant Chicago food scene. He then went to the University of Arizona, where he studied to become a lawyer. He had studied and prepared for the LSAT, when something happened. He got a calling; a calling for a mission to North Carolina. That’s how he got to the Harvesters Church. The church has a strong Korean-American, but is very diverse. In fact, I met members while at the truck and many did not look Asian.
The church is the same church that the So family, the original owners of BulKogi, are members. Back in May 2014, they approached Joe and asked if he would like to operate the truck. It took some convincing to his wife, Shinae, but she had faith that this would work. Joe then enlisted David, a Johnson & Wales graduate in Charlotte, to operate as chef. Together, they make up the core BulKogi crew.
Why would a pastor operate a food truck?
Here’s where BulKogi becomes very unique. The mission of the truck is to raise funds for missions for the church’s young missionaries. I had to take a step back, because most food truck’s intentions are to make a profit for the truck and operator’s gain. This is why you see the slogan “Launching to the nations.”
Since there are new faces, are there are any changes to BulKogi?
The food truck itself is new and from Miami. Joe recalls the long trip driving the truck back from Florida. The recipes used have not change from the So’s family origins. The family perfected it for the year and half they operated and grabbed many fans. Old favorites include Kimchi Fried Rice, Bulgogi, and Kimchi. They did add a few things like the Korean Seafood Pancake and a quesadilla.
What are your favorites?
The Burrito Bowl is one of the favorites, which is very tasty with the spicy beef and pork options. I personally enjoy the Bul-dog. This mammoth size hot dog in a banh mi bun is stacked with another protein, caramelized onions, cheese, a salad mix and kimchi (to balance it more Korean). The Korean Seafood Pancake seemed pretty popular as well with guests.
Another thing I enjoy are the tacos for the choice of corn over flour tortillas. Corn gives it a different flavor and texture, which I prefer over the flavorless flour.
What do you do on your spare time?
David is taking classes, so he spends free time studying and schoolwork. Joe and Shinae spend free time like others hanging out and watching movies.
I also worked on the truck, which gave me an intimate look of the truck. They work very well and given the many combinations, a bit of a challenge. Though, they respect each other and were really nice. I love the food, but I never thought I leave loving the crew.
How to find them