The Healthiest and Worst Dishes at TaKorean

Will three tacos at this Korean barbecue truck put you over the caloric edge? A local dietitian breaks down the menu.

By: Jazelle Hunt

The great thing about food trucks is they offer tons of variety, especially when your lunch options at work are limited to the handful of not-always-healthy mainstays near your office. But all those choices can overwhelm even the most well intentioned of healthy eaters.

Luckily, it’s hard to eat poorly at TaKorean, the Korean barbecue taco truck. The bright blue lunch-mobile serves soft corn tacos and bowls with all the fixins (unless you say otherwise). Sure, it doesn’t sound particularly wholesome, but the ingredients challenge that perception.

“They do have lots of vegetables and good protein and carb choices,” says this week’s expert, Janny Cho, RD, LDN. “It’s an option that [healthy eaters] can have.”

There isn’t any nutrition information available, but with the straightforward menu and Cho’s sound judgement, you can still make an informed lunchtime decision at this popular rolling restaurant.

WORST
• Bulgogi steak: “Rib eye is high in calories, cholesterol, and fat, especially compared with chicken,” Cho explains. And TaKorean marinates its version in a soy-based sauce, which is sure to add some sodium to your meal.

BETTER
• Tangy chicken:
Chicken is a lean protein, and ginger is extremely good for you. Cho says, “Asian cultures add lots of ginger to their cooking for flavor, and some also use it in herbal medicine.” But alas, the sweet chili and soy sauces may cause a spike in your daily sodium.

BEST
• Caramelized tofu:
“Tofu is a complete protein and it’s typically low in fat, depending on how it’s prepared,” our expert says. “I assume the tofu is pan-fried in oil, which increases the fat content, but it’s still less [fat] than the steak or chicken.” Plus the hoisin marinade can be a decent condiment, especially if made using all-natural ingredients.

THE TOPPINGS
TaKorean serves its bowls and tacos with Sriracha sauce, lime crema, fresh cilantro, sesame seeds, and your choice of kimchi or vegan Napa-romaine slaw. Fortunately, our expert says they’re generally healthy enough to pile on.

“None of these ingredients seem bad to me, except maybe the lime crema which probably has a dairy base,” Cho says. “That would increase the fat and calories.”

You should also go easy on the Sriracha—if the heat isn’t enough to deter you, Cho points out that one tablespoon contains about 580 milligrams of sodium. Cilantro and sesame seeds are, of course, nutritionally valuable, and both slaws pack excellent nutrition—Cho says kimchi is considered a Korean superfood.

Although eating healthy at this interesting food truck is as simple as its menu, it’s still important to be mindful. Going for a bowl instead of the tortillas is a good way to shave off carbs and calories. You should also watch your portion sizes, especially if you’re going for three tacos. Cho says, “Having three of any of the tacos would probably put you over 1,000 calories for the day.”