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27 Catt. 3: In re Yellow Vendor

2014 January 22
Bibimbap with Spicy Bulgogi

Bibimbap with Spicy Bulgogi

JEREMY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Cart, in which CATTLEYA, J., joins.

Back in the early days of the Cart, we dined at 1st Yellow Vendor. Today, we consider Yellow Vendor. Though their trucks look identical, as my sister noted in an erratum to our earlier opinion, Yellow Vendor and 1st Yellow Vendor are “totally different.” Both trucks are the progeny of Yellow Bulgogi Cart, a stationary cart that resided at 14th and L. Yellow Bulgogi Cart was one of the old guard of DC’s street food scene. The cart first hit the streets in 2007, back when hot dogs were about all you could get on city streets. One of the operators – Andy Kim – founded Yellow Vendor in 2010; the other operator – his mother – founded 1st Yellow Vendor.

Yellow Vendor's Menu

Yellow Vendor’s Menu

Yellow Vendor’s cuisine is simple, without corn tortillas or Sriracha overdosing. Cf. In re TaKorean, 1 Catt. 4 (2011). This is a truck, that, as the Post put it, “eschew[s] fusion trends in favor of basic Korean staples.” The truck offers eleven lunch boxes, all $8. The menu on the side of the truck shows what appears to be eleven nearly identical pictures, but some combos are spicy and some are not, some feature chicken and some feature beef, some come with an egg (bibimbap) and some do not. We opted for the spicy bulgogi bibimbap lunch box – a Styrofoam box filled with white rice, a sizeable serving of bulgogi meat dripping with gochujang – a condiment of red chili and fermented soybeans – and topped with an over-easy egg, kimchi, and two namul – julienned carrot and blanched greens (perhaps chrysanthemum) dressed simply with sesame oil and salt.

Yellow Vendor

Yellow Vendor

Because a stuffed Styrofoam container such as this cannot be “street food” under our jurisprudence, there is no presumption in favor of Yellow Vendor’s spicy bulgogi bibimbap and the truck bears the burden of proving the merits of its offering. See In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011) (defining street food); In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012) (discussing burden of proof).

The bulgogi meat itself was tender with a great traditional balance of sweet and savory flavors, complemented nicely by the healthy dose of spicy fermented gochujang. Amid the beef strips and the gochujang was an over-easy egg. Initially, we were suspicious, as the egg itself appeared to have been pre-made and pulled out of a container. But the egg was perfectly cooked, with a firm white and golden runny yolk. The star of the combo, however, was the vegetables: the sour kimchi and the crisp freshness of the carrots and chrysanthemum greens. It took some work to attain, but a mouthful consisting of each of the combo’s components was heavenly.

Yellow Vendor is not fusion. For the past three-and-a-half years, or nearly seven if you consider the progenitor cart, Andy Kim has offered basic Korean fare prepared well and presented simply. It easily succeeds on its own merits.


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