Food + Soju + Good Times
Vatos Taco opened in Itaewon in November 2011 and its been getting a lot of buzz, especially amongst the ex-pat community. Seems like Vatos is channeling the Korean taco truck fad that originated in L.A. and spread across the U.S.
Chips and dip that’s offered to every table. The chips were fried nicely, not greasy, and the salsas were very fresh and flavorful.
DOS-A-RITA (KRW 13,900) was terrible. The virgin frozen margarita just waters down the beer; it needs more alcohol, salt and sugar.
Classic carne asada tacos (2 for KRW 6,500). The beef was very tasty and tender, it didn’t have that gamey after taste like other carne asadas. You get a lot of meat but the taco needed some cheese and veggies.
Korean style pork belly tacos (2 for KRW 6,000). The pork belly was cooked nicely, moist and juicy, but it badly needed more seasoning. And there was no sauce! Nobody eats grilled samgyeopsal plain, you dip it in sesame seed oil & salt or ssamjang. How about some sautéed kimchi?
Chili lime shrimp tacos (2 for KRW 7,000). The shrimp was great, lightly battered with a quick fry, so they were very light. The sour cream with cilantro and lime juice really balanced out the taco. This is a well thought-out dish.
Kimchi carnitas fries(KRW 9,900). This was the highlight of the meal! The braised carnitas (pork) with the sautéed kimchi, sour cream and hot sauce were a perfect combo, the fries were almost an afterthought. Everyone in the restaurant ordered the fries!
Vatos makes good, fresh, and beautiful food. They seem to care about their product, their reputation, and their customers. They brought over a great concept from the States and stepped up the taco game in Korea. It is by far the best taco in Korea! But I think they missed the spot on some of their flavor profiles. I think the food is fairly priced but their mixed drinks are overpriced.
Rating: 7 out of 10.
Vatos Urban Tacos: 02-797-8226 in Itaewon, across the street from Hamilton Hotel.