Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on November 9, 2022.
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As far as Pittsburgh food trucks are concerned, it is hard to top the Korean truck, Mr. Bulgogi.
We've been enjoying this truck's delicious beef and spicy pork bulgogi bowls (plus ample mandu dumplings) at Pittsburgh breweries for years and always wondered when the owners would open up a permanent restaurant in the city as, let's be honest, we can always use more great Korean in Pittsburgh.
As it turns out, the answer was 2022 as the team here opened up K-Town Snack Bar right in the heart of Oakland. Even better? The menu here features many of the classics from the truck plus a few new dishes, all in a fast-casual setup that is sure to delight visitors to Oakland all the way to hungry college students looking for a quick meal on a budget.
Mr. Bulgogi Classics Find a Home at K-Town Snack Bar
For those who know the menu of the Mr. Bulgogi food truck well, K-Town Snack Bar's offerings will not surprise you.
Classic truck dishes like beef and spicy pork bulgogi bowls can be found alongside variations of their mandoo dumplings and new dishes like ramen, Korean corn dogs, tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and bungeoppang (goldfish cakes) to name a few.
On the classic side of things, the beef and pork bulgogi bowls are virtually identical to their truck counterparts. That is to say, our favorite grilled spicy pork is served on rice with salad and japchae noodles for a wonderful balance of protein, texture, and flavor.
For those who like spice, the pork is grilled with a gochujang-based glaze for a slow burn heat which, while present, is not terribly hot yet immensely flavorful (we'd go as far as saying it is one of our favorite international condiments- from Korea otherwise). But if you prefer sweet and savory, the bulgogi beef will be for you. We simply order the pork on every single visit as, to us at least, it is one of those rare perfect dishes we cannot get enough of.
On the new dishes side, we have to recommend an order of the tteokbokki as an appetizer for the table. This dish features chewy, almost gummy rice cake logs that bathe in a delicious (and somewhat spicy) kimchi stew. Angie often yells at me for equating this dish to a Korean version of tomato soup (partly because there are no tomatoes in it), but I always return with the argument that it has to do with how the flavors meld into something that is comforting like that classic childhood dish- although the color and tanginess certainly does help.
The only difference is that it is made with kimchi, chewy rice cakes, and is far more flavorful than you would expect from this description (it is a sum-greater-than-the-parts kind of dish if there ever was one). Suffice it to say, if you happen to be in Oakland in the dead of winter and need something hearty to warm you up, this one should be upgraded from appetizer territory to be enjoyed as a full entree.
Finally, those who want a bit more should finish with an order of bungeoppang- or goldfish cakes. These are stuffed cakes made with an almost waffle-like texture and filled with savory red bean paste or sweet chocolate/custard depending on your preference. While somewhat simple, they send us back to the street food stalls of Korea every time we have them for an extra little bit of nostalgia with every order.
Cost Effective and Fast Dining at its Finest
Perhaps one of the very best parts about K-Town Snack Bar is that it stays true to its food truck roots. That is to say, it is reasonably priced and super fast.
During our visit shortly after this one opened in 2022, we were delighted that most dishes came in at or under a $10 price point (on par with truck offerings), and the counter service made eating at this one a breeze. In fact, on most of our visits we've been in and out in under 30 minutes, and often spend longer looking for parking in Oakland than dining at K-Town on its own.
That being said, if you are looking for ambiance or a full restaurant experience (read: table service and/or bar), you won't be getting that here. The emphasis at this restaurant should be on quick dining with stellar, authentic Korean fare first and foremost (indeed a snack bar over a full-service restaurant). Yes, it is very much suited for fast college dining on the go, and to be honest we are quite okay with this due to the restaurant's prime location in the heart of Oakland.
So if you are unable to find the Mr. Bulgogi food truck at an area brewery or event, which will still maintain their seasonal operations moving forward, don't worry- you can head over to Oakland and get your fix on their delicious creations at K-Town Snack Bar whenever you please!
K-Town Snack Bar is located at 210 Oakland Avenue in Oakland.