When is a food truck no longer a food truck? Well, when it does a sit-down dinner just as Kokyu BBQ did last year! A long-time food truck fave of my mind, when the tweet came out for their upcoming first-time dinner, I snapped it up quickly! Called the Food Conspiracy Supper Club details on the exact location and menu remained a secret until the very end. Most likely because they were still figuring things out! But that’s the fun of a pop-up dinner, trust the chef and you’re in for a very special meal. Twenty-four hours before the dinner, diners all get an email for the semi-secret location, a spot called Chameleon in Durham with a 6:00 cocktail time, 6:45 for the dinner. We show up at 6:15, the KoKyu truck is parked outside of the place and three mysterious guys are checking people in. Decked out in black, camos, a balaclava and dark sunglassed, they’re playing the role of secret-spy pretty well.
Stepping inside, the space is Chameleon is a bit bare. Small stage to the right, beer table to the left, two long communal tables on one side, small 6-tops on the other. Art pieces decorate the walls and table, this event is also a fund-raiser for Independent Animal Rescue of Durham. But it’s bright, energetic and exciting! The staff is buzzing around and ready to roll, we grab a couple of beers from Fullsteam (Beasley’s Honey white and a Southern Ale) and enjoy the scene. Obviously everyone here is a big fan of KoKyu so we’re pumped to see what they can do food-wise.
The waitstaff starts to pass out appetizers of all types! I start with some crostini, the winners being a duck confit and egg salad with capers. Sausage-stuffed peppers are also great, especially the red italian peppers! And then of course, some salmon wrapped tots in a homage to KoKyu’s food truck origins. Once the apps are passed out we move on to the sit-down portion of the dinner. We’ve got five courses to go so time to open up the belt a notch and eat! A manila envelope stamped with “CONFIDENTIAL” contains tonight’s menu or “dossier”, cute touch.
The opening salvo for tonight’s dinner is a thick, chicory soup. Green and served with black pepper croutons and chive oil, I like the texture but I’m not a huge fan of the flavor. Served with the Beasley’s honey white beer, the drink cuts down on some of the thickness of the soup. Our second course is a more traditional KoKyu tako but not your usual pork belly. KoKyu has paired the tako with scallop ceviche, roasted beet, avocado chunks and serves it up with an El Toro ale. Not bad but again, not a fan of beets and the overall texture of this item was a but too soft for me.
But there’s salvation for me! The third course is a yukon potato tako with lambacon chorizo, fresh spinach and bechamel. Maybe a more traditional offering, the chorizo has the usual saltiness but the lamb lightens up the meat and the soft potato base makes for a nice mouthful. The main course is a wonderful pork loin with cherry chutney served with a squash au gratin and ham hock’d collards. Served with the Workingman’s Ale, the tender pork set off the acidic cherry made for a nice combo. The squash tasted pumpkin-ish to me and made for a great side. Add in the well-done greens and I’m thinking early Thanksgiving meal! The finale of the pistachio crust, goat cheesecake was nearly overkill since I had gorged on the crostini. Paired with a cider and cranberry sauce, it made for a nice ending even though I’m not a huge fan of cheesecake.
While the overall menu was hit or miss for me, it’s no big deal. You take your chances with a pop-up dinner since you have no idea what the menu is going to be like. But I am really glad to have been here for the evening because I know the KoKyu team put in a LOT of hard work and was back at it on Sunday morning doing their usual Motorco brunch. I really appreciate their efforts to move off the typical menu but just had mixed interest in some of the key ingredients they used for the meal. And during the course of the evening my dinner guest got pulled up on stage to take part in one of the espionage skits and she won a pair of dinners to the next pop-up so looks like I’ll be back for Round 2. So bravo KoKyu and congratulations Durham for pulling off the first local pop-up dinner in the Triangle (that I’m aware of). Fun event all around and I hope Round 2 in 2013 is even better!