Komodo | Los Angeles Food Truck
The komodo dragon filters the world through its tastebuds. Cursed with weak eyesight and near non-existent hearing, this large, lethal lizard uses flavor as a guide. Sounds like a pretty worthy mascot for a food truck, no? That’s what Mike Cho, Chef Erwin Tjahyadi, Eric Tjahyadi, and Thomas Choi thought when starting up their Asian fusion truck. (“Dangerously good food,” the slogan warns.)
Komodo’s origin story begins at the Hotel Bel Air, where Mike and Thomas worked the kitchen together, one in a long line of restaurant jobs. But even these veterans of the restaurant industry were taken aback by the food Chef Erwin was turning out. “Once I tried his food, the style and the way he cooked it … I knew right away he had talent,” says Mike. “For him to be so young and have those techniques and skills, I was surprised by it actually. And then when he made us his own personal dishes, I was really hooked. I knew there was a talent to be shown off.” The opportunity came when the Hotel Bel Air closed down for renovations. Inspired by the success of the Kogi Truck and the subsequent wave of gourmet food trucks, the four friends launched their own menu in 2009 of Asian fusion gourmet tacos.
Owner Mike Cho
Mike admits the “Asian” part of Asian fusion can be subtle, found more often in the simple, hidden things such as seasonings or marinades. But Chef Erwin is a master of drawing from his training at Le Cordon Bleu, his time with such prestigious places as Wolfgang Puck catering and Georges at the Cove, and his Indonesian background. “That’s his country, and he has a mix of flavors from there as well as from living in America,” Mike describes. “He pretty much dips his hands in everything. That’s why we’re fusion. We call ourselves Asian fusion, but the more we get into it, he just fuses everything. Whatever works at the time.”
“If you don’t enjoy it, let me know, because I’m pretty confident you’re going to find something you’ll love on our truck.” – Mike Cho
And boy does it work. Tacos such as the popular Komodo 2.0 excel at playing flavors against each other. The Komodo 2.0 features their specially marinated top sirloin steak topped with a vibrant, lightly sweet Southwestern corn salad (a mix of bell peppers, onions cilantro, and radish). Their Asian Marinated Chicken Taco is a medley of marinated chicken, jalapeno fried rice, mandarin oranges, and green onion. And, one of the more unique tacos we’ve seen, their Fish n’ Grapes taco pairs lightly fried cod seasoned with Old Bay and finished off with a salad of lettuce, sour cream almonds, and grapes. But if you want a true taste of Indonesia, the Java Taco, with pork rendang braised in coconut milk and topped with a tomato cucumber salad, has been declared one of the best tacos Phil has ever had.
L to R: Komodo 2.0, Fish n’ Grapes, Asian Marinated Chicken
Parmesan Truffle Fries
Much like their namesake dominates the Indonesian island from which it hails, Komodo has been dominating the food truck scene, landing spreads in GQ and Gourmet magazine among others. We highly recommend giving them a try and seeing what the fuss is all about. (During our interview, several people came up demanding the return of the steak n’ egg MP3 Burrito. Komodo is good at developing cult followings.) “Get ready for an adventure,” advises Mike. “If you don’t enjoy it, let me know, because I’m pretty confident you’re going to find something you’ll love on our truck.”