100 Favorite Dishes 2013-2014: No. 27, Kim Cheese Fries at Coreanos
This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus® issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape.
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg Coreanos's dish of Kim Cheese Fries is a meal in itself.
It has previously been well documented that I have a weakness for french fries. I've also mentioned, on occasion, my intense love of kimchi and my preference for pulled pork above any other type of barbecue (sorry, brisket).
So it seems obvious that I'd adore one of Coreanos food truck's most popular dishes: Kim Cheese Fries.
The food truck, which bills itself as "Mexican cuisine with Korean in between," first opened in Austin in 2010, thanks to chef/owner Louis Cantu, a Houston native. Shortly thereafter, Smithsonian Magazine called it the eighth-best food truck in the country, and the best food truck in Texas. A second truck opened in Houston in 2012, and since then it's been the go-to spot for Korean/Mexican fusion.
The Kim Cheese Fries are neither Mexican nor Korean, per se, but they contain elements of both cuisines. The scorching hot french fries are thicker than most fast-food fries, but still thin enough that they're crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. They're topped with caramelized kimchi, twice-cooked pork belly with a kick, cheese and Coreanos's signature El Scorcho sauce, a creamy drizzle of garlic, chipotle, lime juice and mayo.
The kimchi is slightly spicy and has a great cabbage crunch to it when you bite down, releasing the sweet juices. The pork belly is similarly juicy and bursting with flavor, and the grated cheese mixture sprinkled over the top melts, linking all the ingredients together with gooey strands of goodness.
Then there's the El Scorcho sauce, which is dynamic, but I maintain could be a little more spicy. On top of that, the cooks add a sprinkle of cilantro for some extra zing and some chopped fresh onions to give it a little more heat and texture.
The result is a surprisingly refreshing french fry dish in which every bite brings something a little different. Korea is well represented by the caramelized kimchi and smoky pulled pork with Asian spices, while Mexico (really Tex-Mex) gets its due with the shredded cheeses and cilantro.
See the full list of favorites on the next page.