The Central Coast’s newest food truck is rolling out the flavors and traditions of Korea, one bowl at a time.
The husband-and-wife team of M.H. Cho and Grace Kim launched their Korean barbecue business, Feed My Seoul, at the end of July, and they haven’t looked in the rear view mirror since. They’ve already logged appearances at music festivals, special events and various San Luis Obispo County pop-up locations.
The two met in South Korea where Kim, a native of Atascadero, was teaching English and writing ESL textbooks. Cho was working for the largest expo organizer in the country, but longed to follow in his uncles’ path and become a restaurateur.
Kim also had culinary experience in her family. Her aunt is a professional chef, as was her grandmother.
“When we decided to go back to California, we were thinking of potential businesses we could delve into and we always came back to food,” Kim recalled.
With the demands of a young family, they didn’t want to jump into running a restaurant, so they revved up the idea of a food truck.
Feed My Seoul offers authentic tastes of Korean barbecue, albeit in a truncated format.
A traditional presentation involves a full-on spread with grilled meats and several bowls of side dishes known as banchan, “which serve to balance and enhance the main dish,” Kim explained.
Those accompaniments include fish cake, marinated cucumbers, seaweed salad and, of course, kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish that is essential to Korean cuisine.
Since that wide array of dishes can’t easily be presented from a food truck, “We created the Seoul bowl to integrate the banchan aspect with the main dish,” Kim said.
Feed My Seoul patrons are encouraged to mix and match ingredients of the Seoul bowl in their bites, just as they would with a sit-down meal of Korean barbecue.
Each bowl starts with a bed of gluten-free sweet potato starch glass noodles, “a stripped-down version of jap-chae, a dish served at celebratory occasions,” Kim said.
“The proteins are favorite hits of the Americanized Korean food lineup,” she added.
Protein options include galbi (marinated beef short ribs), bulgogi (thinly sliced beef or pork), pork belly and spicy fire chicken. (Fire pork is more traditional “but we switched that out to a leaner, more everyday protein,” Kim explained.)
Vegan options are always available as well.
The Seoul bowl also has steamed rice topped with mildly spicy, housemade sauce, plus a side salad of organic greens dressed with kimchi mayonnaise. Seasonal grilled vegetables are featured as well; they’re often sourced from local farmers markets.
“We source our ingredients very thoughtfully,” Kim said. “We don’t use anything artificial.”
For instance, the couple uses only non-GMO soy sauce in their preparations, especially for the housemade marinade for the 36-hour short ribs.
The soy sauce is simmered with 10 ingredients and cooled, then mixed with a freshly-made, fruit-based marinade. As the dish’s name implies, the short ribs spend a day and a half in this painstakingly made sauce, resulting in flavorful and very tender meat.
As the Feed My Seoul concept develops, Cho and Kim hope to expand into catering and other presentations of Korean cuisine.
One idea they hope to try is a barbecue bar, much like a buffet line. It would allow for expanded banchan options and hew even closer to the concept of traditional Korean barbecue.
“We want to go with the flow creatively,” Kim said. “We’re striving to bring the area something fresh and different, and we also just like seeing people happy and well-fed.”
Feed My Seoul
Truck locations and hours listed at www.facebook.com/feedmyseoul805.
The cuisine: Enjoy authentic tastes of Korean barbecue with housemade sauces and locally sourced, often organic vegetables.
Expect to spend: Seoul bowls start at $10.