Korean Shortrib Tacos

I’m going to begin this post with a question because it makes things feel more interactive even though there’s no way for me to find out what your response is to the question.  I guess that makes it a rhetorical question?

Have you ever walked into a restaurant you’ve been to several times and find a new menu item that completely puts that restaurant over the top?  Like, you’ve been there and had a few good meals but it was never a place you would go out of your way to return to?

That happened to me yesterday.  I was getting work done on the Miracle Whip (my white 2013 Ford Focus) and I needed to kill a couple of hours.  Rather than sit in the lobby and watch Harry Potter on their 24″ TV, I walked over to Ashley’s Beer & Grill, which has always been a good option in Westland but never a place I would go out of my way to visit for whatever reason.  Don’t get me wrong, I always have a good meal here and they have an amazing beer selection — But for whatever reason, I only eat here about once per year.

I looked over the menu for several moments until my eyes stopped on one of my favorite things.  Korean Tacos.

Korean Short Rib Tacos: Grilled bulgogi short rib, roja sauce, cilantro-green onion-lime relish and kimchi slaw.

I yelled across the restaurant at the waitress to immediately bring me these tacos.  Just kidding, I didn’t do that.  When the waitress returned I asked very nicely if she could bring me a plate of these delicious sounding Korean tacos and wondered…. Could Ashley’s do it?  Could they create one of my favorite dishes and offer it a mere two miles away from my house?

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The answer is YES.  Absolutely yes.  These Korean tacos are as legit as they come — And that’s not one of those things where I just make a blanket statement about how great something is with zero credibility behind it.  If I am eating ANYWHERE and Korean tacos are available, I pull the trigger.  I’ve had Korean tacos in five different states.  I KNOW Korean tacos.

Everything about these things work.  The bulgogi is plentiful and salty, the cilantro-lime slaw is fresh and doesn’t give you any kind of overpowering fruit flavor, the kimchi adds a vinegary tang and the roja sauce..  Holy shit, the roja sauce.  The roja sauce is SPICY.  So spicy I finished two large drinks while eating these tacos.  The best part is the spice level is not indicated ANYWHERE on the menu.  That means whoever is running this place is expecting people to assume that if you’re ordering Korean tacos you know they’re going to be spicy.  That’s exactly how it should be.

So if you’ve had Korean tacos before and have high expectations, go and get these.  If you’ve never had Korean tacos, go and get these.  If you’re a big fan of ground beef tacos with lettuce and not a lot of spice, please return to this site when you’ve improved your food game.

I see you Ashley’s.  You’ve stepped it up with these.  I will be back.

Ashley’s Beer and Grill is at 7525 N Wayne in Westland, MI

Seoul Street

In my post on Ma Lou’s chicken, one of the things I said was that it was some of the best chicken you can get locally – Right up there with Seoul Street.  I got a lot of questions asking me what this Seoul Street place was.  I thought I would follow that up with a little explanation on what the other fried chicken king in the area is.

In case you couldn’t figure it out by the name Seoul Street serves Korean style fried chicken, which has apparently been a big thing in Korea since the 1960s.  The difference betweeen Korean fried and American fried is a thick, seasoned crust which is created by double frying the chicken and a larger variety of flavors.  It also uses much smaller pieces of chicken, usually leaving out the breast. To make it really simple, Korean fried chicken is incredibly crispy, flavorful and has less of a chance of giving you the meat sweats after eating it.

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First of all, if you’re going to visit Seoul Street you should probably call ahead with your order, order a few things to eat before you get your chicken or just be prepared to wait.  As clearly stated on the website, fried chicken will typically take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour depending on business, as every batch is made fresh after you order. Apparently the Le Cordon Bleu educated food professionals on Yelp didn’t bother to do their research because the majority of reviews that aren’t five stars complain about the wait time.

Seoul Street has two flavors of chicken – sweet and spicy or soy garlic. The sauce sticks to the crispy skin and doesn’t leave your hands covered after handling each chicken appendage.  The craziest thing is that there is a small gap of air between that crispy skin and the meat which is like no fried chicken I’ve had.  Whatever crazy fried chicken science they’re doing, it’s working. They serve drums, thighs, wings and boneless strips. My personal recommendation is get two personal combos with wings and thighs and get both sauces.  If that sounds like a ridiculous amount of food, it’s because it is but you’ll feel suprisingly springy even after consuming enough food for two people.

If you really want to get crazy, order the Kimchi fries and add bulgogi.  I could offer you a long descriptive paragraph about all of the ingredients and the preparation but how about I just post a picture of them and we move on.  Sound good?  Here you go..

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So if you’re wondering if I have a favorite between Seoul Street and Ma Lou’s, the answer is easy.  No, I don’t.  They are two different styles and flavors of fried chicken and they are both fantastic in their own ways. Both places have my enormous respect for turning something as simple as throwing some chicken into hot oil and then brushing delicious sauce on it.  I also have to give major credit to both places for basically saying “You’re going to have to wait a while because I’m going to actually make your chicken fresh for you rather than pick it from under a heat lamp and throw it in a bucket.  If that’s going to be a problem, go to KFC.”

I would like to end this by telling you to go to Seoul Street.  Then go to Ma Lou’s. Back to back for a fried chicken bang bang.  If you need someone to go on this journey with, I’m down.

Seoul Street is at 1771 Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor.  It’s behind the building and a little difficult to find.  Use GPS on your phone, duh.