KOGI BBQ TACO TRUCK, 305 S Grand Ave 90071, Los Angeles
I’ve been travelling around Mexico and Southern California for the past month, having some great Mexican, American and fusion-inspired dishes. But none of them, by a mile, matched the Pacman Burger I had at the mobile eatery of Kogi BBQ in downtown Los Angeles.
Introduced apparently in honour of the great Filipino multiweight boxer, Manny Pacquiao, a few years ago, it clearly still manages to deliver, unlike Pacman’s recent 2012 downfalls.
A first glimpse of the burger makes it obvious that it will be a messy eat and I gathered a fork in anticipation. The sesame bun, slightly toasted, reminded me of outnumbered security guards at a protest rally, desperately and ultimately futilely trying to contain a diverse and passionate crowd – the filling – from spilling out of control. The filling – made up of cut up, mostly spicy, pieces of pork, beef and chicken, along with a cilantro-infused salad, with a couple of salsas, cheese, sesame mayo and pork rind – was just a sensational mess of slightly sweet, tangy and at times spicy goodness.
Each bite brought a new perspective on the burger, even though a third of it spilled out each time I bit into it. Usually I am a stickler for steady and safe burger construction, but I had to recognise that it was not only not possible in this case, but in fact not desirable. Not only did it ensure that another pet hate – a dry burger – would not eventuate, it actually blew away my conceptions of what a burger can actually achieve. This is not hyperbole. Instead of your standard layers of patties, lettuce, tomato, and other optional additions, all in their own set place, this swirling mishmash enables a different experience each bite, all for $8. I wish that my last full day of Los Angeles and the United States was not the occasion for this discovery. But I will be back.