It's not Gourmet, it's Just OK – Calbi Truck – Irvine, CA

As you know we have been really enjoying the gourmet food truck craze. It started for us in February and it has really helped to get Saturday Night Foodies up and running. There is so much variety and creativity. Even finding the food trucks can be a lot of fun. It is almost like an Easter egg hunt.

We were very lucky to start our gourmet food truck adventure sampling at Kogi BBQ. They are still one of our favorite trucks and one of the ones we visit time and time again. Kogi is unique in the way they do their food. They take every day food from Korea and Mexico and turn it into gourmet street food. Here is a link to the Kogi review.

As you may have seen there are a few other trucks that have taken a similar approach. One of the most popular is Calbi. They have a number of trucks in LA and one in the OC. We were finally able to visit one recently in Irvine. The first thing you will notice about Calbi is there trucks look very new and clean. In addition they seem very commercial. Almost like a fast food chain on wheels. I am sure there are a lot of people that like that feel. I am a fan of the more small business feel.

Korean Short Rib Taco

Shrimp Taco

With that said lets get to the food. At the end of the day does anything else matter? As always we made sure to try a few things so we can get a good sense of how they do what they do. We got two tacos, one with beef and the other with shrimp. These are similar in size, as you would get from a traditional taqueria in the OC. The beef was lighty Korean marinated short ribs and the shrimp came with their secret sauce. Both tacos were in soft corn tortillas with romaine lettuce and some other veggies. They seemed a little short on filling but they were good, nothing spectacular but still good.

Kim Chi Quesadilla

Next was their kimchi quesadilla. This is one of our favorite things from Kogi. However, this quesadilla was really a let down at Calbi. There was very little cheese and it was hard to taste the kimchi. It really bummed me out. Quesadillas should be something that is easily knocked out of the park and this one struck out. They served the quesadilla with some sort of sauce. The sauce did not add anything to any of the items we got. It had a peanut flavor as well and was good but did not seem to fit in.

Chicken Burrito

Last was their chicken burrito. The chicken was marinated in what tasted like a type of peanut sauce. Not bad and it came with some cheese, lettuce, other mixed veggies and finally a good portion of scrambled eggs. My wife Kim did not think the burrito had much flavor. I like the egg and chicken so no issue for me on taste. The only thing that caught me off guard was once again very small. It must be at least half the size of Kogi’s burritos.

My parents tried Calbi recently as well after hearing us rave about Kogi. They assumed Calbi would be similar and did not want to wait for Kogi. They mentioned Calbi was good but nothing special. Because of that they have not wanted to wait in the traditional long lines that Kogi seems to always have. All I can say
is do NOT judge the kogibbq truck based on the Calbi experience. They are not the same. Yes there is some similarity with the menus and the crowds they target but it ends there. Waiting in the long lines at Kogi is well worth the sacrifice.

When it is all said and done I am glad we finally went and visited Calbi. Their customer service gets two thumbs up. The two guys running the T4 truck were very nice. They actually took the time to see if we were eating there or taking away so they could wrap up our lunch for us. It was hot and fresh. However this time the food just missed the mark.

We may have to try them again in the future. Maybe they had an off day. I know I have those every once in awhile.

Calbi on Urbanspoon

One thought on “It's not Gourmet, it's Just OK – Calbi Truck – Irvine, CA

  1. Good write up. I did think the Calbi truck was good nothing spectacular. We will give the Kogi a try after reading your post. @gourmetfoodtrk

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