Chi'Lantro BBQ is a Korean Mexican fusion truck -- the name is the combination of two of the most important ingredients in the two cuisines, kimchi and cilantro, respectively. The truck started in Austin and came to Houston at the beginning of this year. My first encounter with Chi'Lantro was in Austin about two years ago. As I stumbled out of a bar at closing time, I somehow ended up among a crowd of people waiting in line.
It's not hard to find a food truck in Austin; in fact, there were two others on that particular block in downtown Austin that night, but neither had the line Chi'Lantro had, and as I ate everything with reckless abandon, I knew I would wait in line regularly if I were a local. I had dreams of the bulgogi tacos and giant burritos after that trip, and I've often visited the Oh My Gogi! truck for my Korean Mexican fix. But the memory of that night stayed with me, so when I heard Chi'Lantro was coming to Houston, I had to see if reality matched my memory.
I tracked the truck down the day it was parked on Washington and Moy. Unlike my first experience, there was no mob of people. I ordered the same items I did that first time -- the bulgogi tacos and a Seoul burrito with chicken.
The tacos ($5) come two to an order. Served on corn tortillas, they are filled with meat topped with lettuce, shredded cabbage, onions and cilantro, what they call Chi'Lantro salsa and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. The meat was flavorful and the lettuce and cabbage crisp, but the salsa wasn't what I had remembered. It wasn't the sweetness that my palate recalled; there was more of a smoky heat. There wasn't anything bad to say about it; I just expected more and better.
Where the tacos didn't quite live up to my heightened expectations, the burrito brought me back to that night. The burritos here are huge, and at $5 are quite a deal. A flour tortilla is filled with meat, the requisite cilantro, onions, lettuce and cabbage, Chi'lantro salsa, lime buttered rice, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses and a fried egg -- and yes, the egg comes standard. The cheese melts into the rice, which mixes in with the egg yolk, which meshes with the salsa, into a pile of ooey-gooey goodness.This is what I had been waiting for. The only thing that would have made this better would have been kimchi. You have to add it to all the items except for the fries for an additional 50 cents, but I didn't know that until after the fact.
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Other menu offerings include quesadillas, rice bowls and a bulgogi burger. Chi'Lantro's Web site also boasts that they are original creators of kimchi fries. I have to say I've been enjoying Oh My Gogi's quite a bit, so this is the next item I'll be trying -- perhaps this calls for a food battle?
Look for Chi'Lantro's schedule at www.chilantrobbq.com or follow them on Twitter @chilantrobbq.