Hankook Taqueria: KorMex Fusion You Won’t Believe

hankookI guess the thing about Hankook is that it looks really sketchy from the outside. It’s a tiny little hut that I nearly drove past, with few parking spaces. Even when I walked in, I was a bit skeptical. But I regretted judging a book by its cover as soon as I took a bite of my beloved taco.

Hankook is a Korean-American restaurant established by Tomas Lee, who just wanted to present his food and culture in a simple fashion: T.A.C.O.S.

I went for lunch with my friend Rahul on a Saturday, and the place was crawling with Georgia Tech kids. We struggled for around ten minutes to find a table, as the place was bustling.

Their menu is very short and simple: snacks, tacos, and burritos.

I considered burritos, but with a similar price to those offered by local franchises (Willy’s) and national chains (Chipotle), I see no problem with burritos at all. However, it makes more sense to me to have many tacos as opposed to just one burrito, because I was allowed to experiment with different taco fillings.

So we sat down, and within five minutes, all of our food had arrived. They call out the name you give them at the cash register and whisk a red plastic bowl onto your table.

Compared to Tacqueria del Sol, this place is a step up, because while the food is just as cheap, the fusion makes it much more flavorful and interesting, and you get MUCH MORE in each individual taco (I’m commending mainly the amount of lettuce and cheese in the tacos), as well as an overall larger portion size.

This place is totally inauthentic, but I ain’t even mad, because this Lee fellow has taken two very traditional ideas and married them in a harmonious innovation.photo 1 (2)

Rahul and I split the sesame fries, which featured average sized potato slices coated with an oily mixture of sesame and spicy red pepper flakes. Delicious and something new. $3.

I ordered two tacos, one of which was the beef, or “bul gogi,” which I highly recommend. I love KBBQ by itself, but if you put it in a flour tortilla so I don’t need to hold a fork, I’ll be so pleased with you. Each taco comes with lettuce, cilantro, crumbly jack cheese, cabbage salad, lime, and scallions. The beef is super flavorful, a perfect combination of salty and sweet due to a marinating in a KBBQ sauce. $2.25.

photo 3 (1)I also choose the weekly special: Tempura Avocado, with fried avocado, sweet chili mayo, lettuce tossed in sesame and soy sauce, and topped with creamy, soft queso fresco. Really lovely. It cost a bit more than the regular taco price ($2.25), but I didn’t complain.

You could more than easily fill your belly with a ten-dollar-bill, and for the speed, taste, and overall freshness that this restaurant offers, I would go here every weekend, especially if I went to Tech.

A fast-paced restaurant has no time for people who take their time in speaking. By this, I mean that it was difficult to give anyone feedback. No one visited us to ask how the meal was going, but I wouldn’t expect that. However, my friend had wanted more cheese and/or a wedge of lime, and when he approached the worker, he was kind of waved off.

I suppose you’d expect some flaws, right?

It doesn’t seem smart to charge people before they get their food, because people are less likely to tip if they don’t know what the service is like.

Besides that, the tiny little place has a decor that doesn’t leave much of an impression at all, but I guess that and the simple menu really places a strong focus on the food; if people keep coming back, then what am I doing talking about the decor? 

The parking situation is difficult and scary; I inched along that gravel path slowly, swiveling my head every now and then to make sure I didn’t accidentally brush against a car; that’s how small the “lot” was.

This place closes way early, which makes it great for lunch and early dinners, but an imaginable pain in the ass for people who like to sit through their meals and linger a while, making conversation.

Hankook has a posher, more expensive cousin in Dunwoody called Takorea. It’s the same idea of KorMex fusion, but cheaper, and less generous about portion size. I’d stick to Hankook.

1341 Collier Road – Atlanta, GA 30318


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