Food Cart Profile: Koo’s Grill
If the rent is too damn high, try out the treat that proves that one dollar can, and in fact, buy you happiness.
Koo’s Sweet Rice Pancake Ho-tteok Cart sits parked outside a market in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. Koo is the family surname of this treasure’s owner. Although they have yet to enter the next generation of social media food truck/cart marketing on Twitter, apparently, word of mouth is spreading and the word is delectable.
The simple fact this cart has only a single item for sale should tell you something quickly. When asking Mr. Koo of your choices, he will politely answer, “There is only one thing.” They make nothing else; there is no need for a menu. They serve nothing with cheese or zest, nothing with foam and nothing laid out on fine china. When you order, you are handed a fresh ho-tteok wrapped in a standard Styrofoam container. Anyone should be able to appreciate the simplicity in this take on true street food.
According to the Koo’s daughter, her parents went to Korea to learn how to make these treats after they saw the lack of locations these items were sold, in the L.A. area. The family opened their first location at the California Market in Garden Grove, and then expanded to Koreatown in 2001.
Ho-tteok are a glutinous, moist, sweet Korean pancake that is filled with a nugget of molten syrup which is made from chopped peanuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon. These pancakes are approximately five inches in diameter and are the perfect fare to grab if you are headed in or out of the market.
According to their fans, Koo’s ho-tteok ranks as one of the best snacks/desserts in the Los Angeles area. I believe one Koo’s customers put it best, “One dollar per pancake? One dollar for a slice of heaven? I would be outside this cart every day for every meal if I wasn’t worried about my waist size.”