Monday, February 07, 2011

Hashigo - Costa Mesa

The subject of Kogi came up while I was chatting with a co-worker last week, which was odd because I hadn't thought about Kogi for quite a while. It seems a quaint subject now, like talking about a once-popular movie that's since been relegated to the DVD bargain pile at Target.

In any case, I asked a co-worker if he'd ever had it. "Don't have to," he replied, rather sure of himself, "I've had a Korean taco at Hashigo down the street. Don't have to wait. Don't have to go chasing after a truck."

I nodded in agreement, and made a note to visit the place, which I've known about for years but shunned simply because of laziness. Fortuitously, a few days later, Derrick and Jeff, a couple of readers of this humble blog, invited me to lunch there. I didn't have the tacos, but saw almost immediately that they do even more than that.

In particular, there was this Korean wet burrito, which Jeff ordered. Humorously named "The Korrito", it starts with bulgogi, kimchi fried rice and cheese stuffed inside a rolled tortilla. The whole boulder-sized lump is then doused with what looked and tasted like reduced soondubu (soft tofu soup). This, I thought, was beyond weird and weird-looking. Weird, but good--a Korean-Mexican mash up that easily trumps Kogi's own burrito on sheer cojones. I just wished the picture I took of it wasn't so blurry.

I opted for something I'd never get at the Kogi truck, the $8.95, 2-item lunch special that included a main dish (a ridiculously large kalbi bowl, a gurgling soondubu pot with seafood, or a shrimp tempura udon) and a side (kimchi fried rice, California rolls, or fried gyoza).

This trip, I chose the shrimp tempura udon, and it came in a bowl as wide as a sink. The usual squiggly-slippery chew of udon were submerged beneath an amber-colored broth both peppy and hot. As with most noodle soups, success begins and ends here, and this one had a lip-smacking umami sweetness leeching out of the toasted nori that made every sip invigorating. The hot elixir comforts the same time its subtle spiciness titillates. It didn't matter that the two criss-crossed spears of once-lacy tempura were now slowly dissolving into the liquid, turning into flavor-soaked and mushy broth sponge.

The gyoza that accompanied added nothing particularly noteworthy, except for a crunchy fried counterpoint to the hot, wet slurps of soup. Truth is, I think the kimchi fried rice would've been a better side; but starch followed by starch does not a balanced lunch make.

What was essential to the meal actually came for free: three capably prepared and flavorful banchan came as a complimentary appetizer. There was enough that it could've conceivably constituted a meal unto themselves, say, if you had a bowl of rice. The gamja jorim, a stewed potato side-dish so melting and sweet, might as well be labeled as a confection.

Hmm...there's an idea hasn't yet been embraced: an all banchan food truck! They could serve it inside tortillas and call them "tacos". Why not? That's what everyone seems to be doing these days.

Hashigo Korean Kitchen
3033 Bristol St., Suite M
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 557-4911

The Kickin' Crab - Santa Ana


At 2:30 PM, Blogger mark said...

Glad you visited this spot! I think everyone has a place they go-to for food. Not for any type of specific food, but merely for the pure purpose of sitting down and eating an enjoyable meal. Usually these places a no-thrills, down-to-earth place. And Hashigo is definitely my place.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

The food certainly looks good here...and it's very decently priced too! Only if they opened up a place in LA, they would probably get another load of customers. :)

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous James said...

Another place that has pretty much the same taco as Kogi is Bon Epi Bakery in Irvine at the Jamboree Plaza.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

Never knew of this place before now. I'm not too well versed Korean foods, so this will mos def have to be explored in detail.
Much love for this place on Yelp too.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


You described Hashigo to a tee. It's just a place to sit down and eat an enjoyable meal.


And they do a pretty decent amount of business here too! The place, I think, is very Orange County.


Really?! Awesome. I've been there twice in the past week and I had no idea. They don't even advertise it!


If you go and are hungry, look no further than the kalbi bowl, then ask for the side of fried rice. You'll have to be carried out.

At 8:59 AM, Anonymous JB said...

When it opened circa 2006, the original name of Hashigo Korean Kitchen was Hashigo Tofu Stew, at least on the sign outside. The sundubu jjigae is not life-changing but it's above-average and always hits the spot. Hashigo offers a fair list of tofu stew options (including octopus), too.

Hashigo on Bristol Street fills a critical niche among the many Japanese eateries in the immediate radius. Great review!

At 10:23 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks for the comment, as always. Actually you are the first person to clue me in on Hashigo right around the time you mentioned (in 2006). Typical of me, it took 5 years for me to follow up! Oh if only I were a better bookkeeper on all the suggestions people are so generous in offering over the years. I think I need to make a blog to record all those suggestions...a to-do list blog.

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At 7:06 PM, Blogger christoofat said...

Seems that spambots have invaded this blog..have gotten 4 replies to old threads today, all from "Anonymous" who leaves some trach behind. Happy Memorial Day..


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