In Conversation: Korilla BBQ
This Saturday, December 17, 12-4PM, the Korilla BBQ truck joins us for another #SnacknShop, where we provide the fuel and the inspiration for you to get all of your shopping done in record speed! We caught up with one of New York City’s OG vendies and chatted about how they found success, their work with LiNK (Liberty in North Korea), and what’s on the horizon.
You’ve been featured everywhere from The Wall Street Journal, to Sesame Street, to the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race. Why do you think so many different audiences gravitate towards your food?
Korilla started with the goal of making Korean food more accessible back in 2010 when there were half as many Korean establishments as there are today in NYC. Three high school friends were like culinary Christopher Columbus’ charting out new territory and because of our inexperience, unbeknownst to us took on a fresh approach. I’m positive that growing up on Micky D’s kid’s meals and the easy-to-hate but hard-to-resist Taco Hut or Dunkin’ Robbins frankensteins convinced us that the food our Korean mothers made was better, however esoteric Korean food was back then. We took on an identity of a tiger, bold and fierce – like our Korean mothers (just kidding) – because Korean flavors and cuisine is just that. And we hit the streets with an honest approach to food because we only knew one way – mom’s way.
You opened your brick and mortar location in 2014 in the East Village. Was that move a major game changer in your business?
When we opened in 2014 we thought we made it to the promised land – no more searching for parking spots, no more freezing our behinds and most of all something to call HQ. We got all these things we hoped for and then some. It really gave us the ability to expand our business into catering, set up infrastructure, build a team – no chef wants to join a food truck unless they’re starting one, and expand our pool of investors. Most of all, with all these pieces in place, we are now able to experiment and unleash new ideas we would so often spitball. We recently launched KBBQ – Southern BBQ meats with Korean flavors – in Soho (55 Spring St) and hope to do more cool projects to add to the culinary landscape of NYC.
You recently released Korilla Kafe, a cold-brew misugaru coffee with 10% of the proceeds going to LiNK (Liberty in North Korea). How did you first become involved with LiNK, and what have you gotten out of working with them?
We were first exposed to LiNk in high school and have done fundraisers almost 13 years ago. I thought that because our raison d’etre was based in our Korean American heritage and we were in the business of selling Korean food, there was an aspect of social entrepreneurship we could do more with.
What’s your favorite food from the Korilla truck?
My current favorite is the Bulgogi Rice bowl with bacon kimchi fried rice, red kimchi, kale, beansprouts and green crack sauce.
Favorite spot to serve in NYC?
Metrotech in downtown Brooklyn, Midtown, and especially in the Financial District. We’ve been serving our dedicated fans since 2010.