New food truck puts Korean twist on tacos

The ROKS Korean BBQ Tacos truck serving lunch in Research Park in Champaign on June 12.

By Alicia Lee

“All the ingredients of what you would normally eat at a Korean BBQ restaurant, except that it’s truncated to fit within a tortilla.” That’s how Randy Moon, co-owner of ROKs Korean BBQ Tacos, describes the food he serves on his new food truck.

Instead of your normal Mexican taco, Moon, 36, and his cousin Joo Young Moon, 30, have put their own Korean twist on these tacos.

The menu includes four kinds of tacos: a pork katsu taco, a spicy pork taco, a pork belly taco and a bulgogi taco, which is a sweet marinated beef. Each taco is $4, but customers can also get a sampler platter for $10, which has smaller versions of these tacos. Its menu also includes a kimchi fried rice ball, which is currently the truck’s only vegetarian item.

“We cut all our own vegetables; we pickle everything that we have. There is nothing prepackaged on the truck, so it tries to give customers a snapshot of what eating at a Korean barbecue restaurant would be like, minus the tortilla,” Moon said.

They are only in their fifth week of business, but Moon said they are doing slightly better than what he projected.

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The idea for the food truck started in January of this year, but Moon said it has been something that he has been wanting to do for the past two years.

Before starting the food truck, Moon had been working for a general contractor for construction for 10 years. He graduated from the University with a degree in civil engineering and started working right away. However, while at the University, Moon worked at Kamakura Japanese Restaurant, where he said he learned quite a lot about cooking.

“What made it most rewarding is when you cook for somebody and they compliment you on how good it tastes. That was one thing that always made working there somewhat enjoyable,” Moon said.

Even now, while working on the food truck, he said those same compliments are what make his job worth it.

“We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback,” Moon said. “It’s awesome and very rewarding. It makes the long hours of prepping all this food well worth it. Some of these days are pretty long. Twelve to 14 hours of prep. I would say it would be my passion to hear that folks are pleased with what we’re serving.”

Joline Chang, junior in AHS, is one of the first people to work on the food truck. Even though she works three jobs, she said “this ROKs position is definitely one of my favorites.”

“I love working on ROKs. It is easy to sell a product to people that you truly love,” Chang said. “I have at least one taco every shift, and I never get tired of it. It’s just that good. The people I work with make it even more enjoyable.”

ROKs stands for Republic of Korea, the type of cuisine the truck serves. However, not many people know there is another meaning for “ROKs;” it is also the slang term for dice at a craps table.

“My cousin and I, when we are at a casino, enjoy playing craps. So we heard that one day, where someone referenced the dice as rocks and said, ‘Hey, there’s an idea,’ so we just had fun with it regarding the name and design,” Moon said. “All the menu items are named after certain crap table bets as well.” 

Moon said they chose to come to Champaign instead of a big city like Chicago because of stricter regulations. However, Moon said that Champaign offers a closer-knit community than a big city like Chicago.

“Everybody knows everybody,” he said. “It obviously has a small town feel, so it’s kind of nice, so it’s not you dealing with strangers all the time like in Chicago.”

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Note: This article was written last week, so they are now not in their fourth week, but fifth week of business.