Popping up with more surprises

Korean taco truck Koifusion has always been a game-changer from the moment it first rolled onto the Portland culinary scene.

Korean taco truck Koifusion has always been a game-changer from the moment it first rolled onto the Portland culinary scene. Owner Bo Kwon, inspired by the Korean Mexican fusion taco trucks down in Los Angeles, took the idea and crafted it Portland style—with a heaping serving of sustainability and home-cooked ingredients.
In March, they participated in Mobile Chowdown III in Seattle, which highlighted the food carts of both Portland and Seattle. Last week, the ever-popular cart was turned into a restaurant at a new location called KoiFusion@1 in the old SOLO nightclub spot on 13th and Lovejoy Street.

Although many Koifans are brimming with excitement over a stationary place to munch on the tasty tacos and kimchi, there has been some question regarding the title of the restaurant. Recently, the Koifusion Web site revealed that the @1 is not just fun play on the Twitter aspect of Koifusion’s trucks, it is recognizing their involvement in a culinary and artistic trend that has blown up in major cities across the globe.

Already popular in Los Angeles, London and more, the “pop up shop” concept is an innovative way for chefs to share their menus in new locations without committing to a lease or just one neighborhood. The way it works is a chef will choose a location to test out his/her menu in the neighborhood, not necessarily choosing to stay there for an extended period of time. In other cities, new and upcoming chefs have used this model to test the success of a potential menu. Since Portland is already a fan of Koifusion, Bo Kwon and Chef Joe Anderson (formerly the chef at Carlyle) will be using the model simply to highlight the mobility and creativity they’ve been using all along.

Kwon is excited for the new addition to Koifusion. “This gives us a chance to focus on what we do best—serve amazing food, while also allowing us the business flexibility to go to different locations with a whole bunch of different atmospheres, diners, neighborhoods and vibes,” he said on the Koifusion Web site last Thursday.

Although still in its soft opening, Koifusion@1 is headed in the right direction, with all of the food cart favorites on their menu, plus some additions on the way. Korean fried chicken, a sticky and spicy offering that isn’t yet available from the carts can be found in the new spot, as well as spicy Korean fries with mango ketchup. There will be more additions soon as the new menu is revealed in the coming weeks, such as a noodle stir-fry and salad options.

A handcrafted drink menu with classic gimlets and fig pomegranate cosmopolitans is already available as well, with dozens of house-infused liquors with everything from bacon-garlic infused vodka to a mint-infused rum.

As the months go on, so will Koifusion, giving us the locations for @2, @3 and so on. The excitement of new locations and new menu is enough to spark any gourmand’s interest, but most importantly we wonder: What will Koifusion do next?