• vegan kogi bbq at the alibi room in culver city

    March 30th, 2009quarrygirlalibi room, kogi, LA restaurants

    if you follow this blog, you probably read about the vegan dramz that occurred a few weeks ago in regards to the kogi taco truck. the korean/mexican-style bbq is definitely the latest food fad to hit los angeles, and there can be up to two hour waits and a shortage of grub wherever the trucks decide to make an appearance. i queued up for like 45 minutes just to get a tofu taco which i assumed was vegan, only to find out that it almost was….other than “traces of lard” in the corn tortilla…after i’d already eaten it.

    i wrote a post about my kogi experience, which kicked up a minor stir…but it didn’t stop the la vegan drinks crew from organizing a meetup at the alibi room in culver city, the new brick and mortar home to the kogi taco truck cuisine. vegan drinks were arranged for saturday, march 28, with the selling point being that the word “vegan” is in fact on the kogi menu at the alibi (they offer a vegan taco wrapped in a leaf), plus the chef promised to create a “vegan special” just to appease our crew. i gotta admit, it was a pretty ballsy move on the part of vegan drinks. afterall, “kogi” means “meat” in korean and this is a place that has been known to have conflicting stories about the contents of their food. on the other hand, kogi is the latest culinary craze sweeping the town…why shouldn’t we vegans get to enjoy it as well? plus the alibi room is a hip bar with tons of vegan beer and a parking lot. having the vegan drinks meetup revolve around this controversial cuisine was obviously a good idea, because like 80 fucking vegans showed up!

    the place was jam packed, with vegans and meat-eaters alike…you could tell the alibi must fill to capacity even without a huge vegan party taking over the place. when we left, there was seriously a wait to get in. what is it with la and these bloody fads…once la foodies get wind of one, there really is no stopping them! anyways, on to the food!

    vegan sesame leaf tacos with tofu and asian pear. $5

    vegan sesame leaf tacos with tofu and asian pear. $5

    we started with the one and only main dish on kogi’s alibi menu that comes vegan as is: the vegan sesame leaf tacos. these tacos aren’t listed on the mobile kogi taco truck menu…but who knows, maybe they could make them for you if you ask. either way, they are always available at the alibi. they tasted pretty similar to the normal tofu tacos wrapped in lard, except these were wrapped in a delicate shiso leaf instead. the insides were a little bit sweeter than the normal tacos, and there was just a hint of hot sauce. they were pretty tasty, i just gotta admit i’m not a huge fan of eating tacos or burritos wrapped in leaves. i would have much preferred these to come in vegan corn tortillas, but oh well.

    vegan special of the night and tofu burrito after the jump.

    next we ordered the vegan special of the night that chef roy had been promising, which turned out to be a side of kimchi with acorn jelly.

    chef roy's special: kimchi and acorn jelly. $5

    chef roy's special: kimchi and acorn jelly. $5

    the dark leafy kimchi was spicy and delicious, and the acorn jelly was a whole new taste all together. this was a pretty good dish, but i don’t think it was really worth 5 bucks. plus, it had a lot of the same flavors as the vegan sesame leaf tacos.

    after checking with the kitchen and confirming that the flour tortillas were vegan (unlike the corn ones), my husband and i decided to share a tofu burrito. normally it comes with tofu, eggs, hash browns and cheese. we had it veganized by asking that they leave out the eggs and cheese, and fill it up with some extra tofu.

    tofu kogi breakfast burrito (no eggs, no cheese). $5

    tofu kogi breakfast burrito (no eggs, no cheese). $5

    i’m usually a huge fan of any kind of burrito, but this one was a little bit bland. the tofu was the exact same stuff from out of the tacos, except it wasn’t quite as spicy. i could have put about half a gallon of sriracha on this thing, but there was none readily available and getting the attention of the staff on such a crowded night seemed like more trouble than it was worth. i can’t really bitch about the burrito too much though, because it’s not meant to be vegan-friendly. i did have them leave out like half the ingredients after all.


    so in the end, while i had a blast at the vegan drinks meetup, i’ve decided i’m not a huge kogi fan. it’s not really kogi’s fault either…i just think they don’t give a shit about vegans or making tasty food that is vegan-friendly. can i really blame them though, considering the word “kogi” means “meat”? the whole idea of veganism probably sounds pretty crazy to these guys. while they do offer the vegan tacos that are light and tasty, i wouldn’t recommend seeking them out because they aren’t that exceptional. let the omnivores trip over themselves to line up for this food…there are much better places for us to eat in culver city.

    alibi room bar in culver city

    alibi room bar in culver city

    kogi bbq at the alibi room
    12236 Washington Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90066
    Kogi Korean BBQ hours:
    6 pm to 12 am
    Monday – Saturday

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11 responses to “vegan kogi bbq at the alibi room in culver city” RSS icon

  • Yeah, I agree. The vegan tacos were good, but would have been much better in a warm vegan corn tortilla.

    Jonathan and I got some fries and they were decent, but definitely not worth $5. They did come with some kind of sriracha-type sauce, though.

    Ah fuck. I just realized something. The bartender said the fries were vegan because they only fry the fries and chips in the fryer. I hope the chips aren’t those lard tortillas. Cross contamination =/

  • I tried the taro and lotus root chips and they were very good, but really, it was just nice to hang out with everyone there.

  • Anyone try the tofu and citrus salad?

  • I don’t think you’re missing out eating just the vegan side of Kogi. Their meaty tacos are okay, but definitely not worth 45 minutes of standing in line for. They have a great marketing setup with twitter and all the hype, but the food is just kinda blah. Anyone can throw together some meat with kimchi and hot sauce and wrap it in a taco and make it taste the same.

    I’m really disappointed with their vegan offerings though. It seems like just an after-thought, like, “Oh haha, we can throw some leaves and kimchi together with konyakku and the vegans will just eat it up.” It makes me want to start up my vegan fish-taco truck.

    Were there any fries that night? I thought the fries were vegan?

  • cruel_spark, I had the tofu salad, it was pretty good. Didn’t actually taste very citrusy to me, but I’m pretty sure I did pick up the flavor and crunch of apple, which was nice. Basically it tasted like kimchi, plain tofu, apples and light dressing. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.

    As Quarrygirl noted, basically everything just tasted like straight up kimchi. Ok by me as I like the stuff, but then again I’ve got a big jar of it sitting in my fridge that I could just as easily dip some plain tofu into. Would like the kogi stuff much better if they did some kind of prep on the tofu, like marinate it in something, grill it, etc… I will go so far as to admit that whenever the meaty tacos were passed under my nose (the place really was packed and at times the food had to be passed from person to person to get it from the server to it’s intended recipient), they looked and smelled a lot more appetizing than our leafy tofu tacos did.

    The taro and lotus chips made for tasty bar snacks, though essentially they tasted exactly like Terra Chips, only with more hot grease. I shudder to think of which oil they actually were cooked in.

  • I held off until about 4 or 5 Organic Japanese beers before I hit the Vegan Tacos and they were pretty damn good at that point. You’ve got to put it in context with, hey I’m at a cool bar with my friends “OMG I can eat something real here!”

  • everything tastes good after 4+ beers!! but can’t you just ask to put the taco fillings in the burrito esp since the burrito is so bland? i think i still need some more convincing on this place even though its 5 min from my house!!! >:(

  • Is the kimchi vegetarian? Are there any fish/shrimp byproducts in there? I’ve heard kimchi can have that sometimes, but not sure how kogi makes it. Got the kimchi quesadilla and had a flavor I couldn’t quite read!

  • Found out the kimchi is made from baby shrimp.

  • did your kimchi look like the one above, because he made that special for us because I gave him like a month’s notice and updated him weekly.

  • No, it didn’t. The one in the kimchi quesadilla was more orange/red colored, so yours was probably special.

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