Chi'lantro - Austin, TX
Chi'lantro. The name in and of itself begs you to come visit. What started as and continues to be an authentic Korean BBQ inspired food truck, is also a brick and mortar restaurant with two locations in Austin. Chi'lantro has been on the bucket list for a while and I was so very glad I finally had the opportunity to cross it off. It was delicious!
I decided to order the rice bowl, which you can have with a number of different proteins. You can pick from beef, spicy pork, chicken (spicy or soy glazed), or tofu. I opted for beef, which was a ribeye bulgogi. If you're not familiar with Korean food, you're missing out because it's more than just Kimchi. Bulgogi is simply marinated beef. The typical bulgogi marinade is a soy based sauce that may be mixed with rice wine vinegar for acidity and maybe some brown sugar for a little bit of sweetness.
Chi'lantro's bulgogi was very tender and had the traditional flavor profile I was looking for: saltiness from the soy with a little bit of acidity and sweetness from the rest of the marinade. The fried egg cannot be overlooked and the runny yoke added a great richness in flavor. The corn, carrots, cabbage and mushrooms added some freshness and crunchiness because they were cooked tender crisp. And the lime butter rice added it's own subtle flavor to each and every bite. It was definitely a filling rice bowl so come hungry.
I also ordered a side of the house made pickles. I was surprised to find not your typical pickles, but I think I should have known that coming here. I was also surprised that I liked it very much. It was a mixture of large cuts of carrots and zucchini that was pickled and topped with sesame seeds. It was a great side dish because it paired nicely with my rice bowl.
Of course my friend had to order the one item that put Chi'lantro on the map: kimchi fries. I am not a huge fan of spicy things so I treaded very lightly - as lightly as I could - but seriously. Look at those fries! I can totally understand why these kimchi fries are so popular. The fries themselves were perfectly cooked and had a great crunch on the outside while being soft on the inside. The sauce was spicy according to my friend, but she really enjoyed it. It's definitely worth the stop.
Chi'lantro should definitely be on your Austin bucket list. The truck has an updated schedule on their website so you can find it at a place near you. But if you can't catch it, you can try either of the restaurants, one in south Austin off S. Lamar Blvd or one in north Austin off Burnet Road.