Good (morning/afternoon/evening), the Sixth Man is here to take you on a quick tour of the Yellow Vendor. The once old-fashioned food cart located on the corner of 14th and L NW has grown wheels and now offers its variations of Korean BBQ fare to all of (downtown) DC. Basically, there are three choices you need to make: (1) Protein: Steak or chicken or half and half, (2) Flavor: spicy or non-spicy, and (3) Sides: Kimchi and salad or bimibap (sprouts, carrots, spinach, egg). Read below to see what we thought.
Truck name: Yellow Vendor Bulgogi Truck
Date of consumption: ???
Overall rating: 4/5
- Not much variety, but does bulgogi especially well
- Large portions, short lines, great value
- No bells and whistles
- Friendly staff
The Governor — What I got from the bulgogi cart was the Bibimbap Spicy Combo with Egg (with kimchi). When you get bibimbap, you can also choose to have an added fried egg. I like that but realize it isn’t for everyone. The egg is a little runny, so beware if you’re nervous about that sort of thing. Of the veggies, the soggy spinach is the lowlight because it has a slight bitter taste, but that probably means it’s healthy or something. The carrots are good, but the best part is the yellow bean sprouts. Though they’re cooked in the same sweet, sesame oil as the other two veggies, they taste fantastic and have an interesting and enjoyable texture to boot. All of the veggies add a sweet coolness to the meal that balances really well with the spicy meats I ordered. As for the meats of the meal, the spicy chicken and spicy beef as designated by the Spicy Combo, are all very tasty. If you like spicy, you’re going to love this option. It’s just the right amount of heat to loosen up some nasal congestion but not too much that you can’t taste the flavors of the chicken and the beef. I also love the texture of the smooth rice, which absorbs some of the heat of the meats. All this comes together for a fine, balanced meal…Try the Bibimbap!
Chick-en Magnet — On my latest trip to the Yellow Vendor Bulgogi Truck, I went with my old favorite, chicken bibimbap, the meal that has everything. It starts with a generous portion of steamed white rice, topped with a very generous portion of chicken, and just to keep things interesting, a fried egg. The chicken may not be as well-marinated as I’ve had in other places, but its good enough to get the job done. Along with these mighty portions are some very tasty side dishes, including seaweed, bean sprouts, and my favorite: kimchi. The strong taste of kimchi is probably not for everyone, but I’ve been a fan ever since I learned of its superfood status (http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20410300,00.html). With all this food put together, you get a mega-sized lunch that is actually very well-balanced and nutritious. I’ll warn that the mix of spicy and pungent aromas guarantees that everyone in the office will know you brought in bulgogi. A small price to pay for the delicious food coma that awaits you.
Mr. Pig — With no pork options available and a strict dislike of most spicy things, I chose the Regular Combo (or Regular Chicken and Bulgogi). The meat was accompanied by rice and some lettuce on the side with a sort of balsamic sauce thrown on top. The lettuce was decent enough, but that’s not what you came to hear about. Much like the experience at Halal Gyro, the Yellow Vendor is a known quantity. You’re going to get a lot of food for a good price ($7). It’s comfort food, focusing on simply flavored meat over white rice. The rice is cooked perfectly, and the meat is juicy, if maybe a bit soft on the flavor side (although that’s my own fault for not ordering spicy, I suppose). Simply put, a fine meal that you can’t go wrong with if all you’re interested is something simple and satisfying to fill your belly.
Sixth Man — Having a Korean friend growing up meant an early introduction to the art of grilling thinly sliced marinated steak known as bulgogi. And so it was with great excitement that I sampled the Yellow Vendor’s rendition of this Korean tradition. I ordered the spicy bulgogi meal which was basically marinated beef poured on top a bed of rice with small sides of salad and kimchi. I should say up front, this kind of meal isn’t for everyone, but if you like spicy food and have tried and like kimchi, then you are in for a good time. The beef was cooked perfectly and had a healthy kick of spice, and the lightly dressed lettuce salad and kimchi refreshingly complimented the dense mix of bulgogi and rice. Granted, this meal didn’t teach me anything new as many food trucks now-a-days do, but it delivered a satisfying lunching experience. And since I can’t think of many other places to get a bulgogi lunch, I often find myself looking around for the Yellow Vendor.
This unassuming, family-owned and operated food truck offers a nice change of pace to the flashy food truck scene. Perhaps because of the lack of bells and whistles, the Yellow Vendor has much shorter lines than other trucks around; but do not be fooled. The woman working the cart could not be nicer and is always happy to add extra kimchi when asked. One of the best parts of this food truck experience is the value. Their portions are at least a meal and a half of food and it all costs $7, making it a steal of a deal.
There are a lot of food trucks traveling the streets of DC with grand ambitions to bring exotic and notable food to our doorsteps for lunchtime. By and large, this has been a great development and made lunchtime more exciting than ever before. But there’s still something to be said for that comfortable vendor that makes one thing really well, so that even though you know exactly what to expect, you still enjoy that craving beforehand and the satisfaction afterwards of a meal that really hit the spot without breaking your bank. It doesn’t have trendy decals or blast hip music, but with the delicious food it serves up, it’s a force to be reckoned with.