From the sweet, savory flavors of bulgogi to the spicy tang of kimchi, Korean cuisine has a range of options to delight foodies and a quick-service fusion eatery is hoping to capitalize on its growing popularity with its first location in Maryland.
TaKorean, a Korean taco grill, started as a food truck in Washington, D.C. in 2010. The business moved beyond its home on wheels to open its first brick-and-mortar space in Union Market in D.C. in 2012 and opened its second location in Washington’s Navy Yard in 2014. Nine years later, the company will celebrate the opening its first Maryland location in the Kentlands neighborhood of Gaithersburg this week.
TaKorean offers tacos and bowls with various protein options, add-ons, slaw, and toppings. Protein options include chicken, steak, pork, tofu and pan-roasted vegetables, which can be paired with toppings such as salsa roja, lime crema, sesame seeds, cilantro or crunchy shallots and add-ons such as cucumbers, “piko” de gallo, a poached egg or guacamole.
“Korean cuisine is really becoming one of the fastest growing cuisine types in the U.S. but when I started in 2010, I wanted to offer something that actually wasn’t being offer very much,” TaKorean founder/owner and Washington, D.C. native Mike Lenard said. “It’s not really just tacos, it’s kind of a full Korean-style or Korean-inspired meal here.”
The Kentlands location at 261 Kentlands Blvd., will host a grand opening Tuesday with free food from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Obviously Montgomery County is huge, but it has amazing business opportunities, a thriving food scene and when you compare it to even some of the areas in Virginia, I think Montgomery County has the best diversity and areas that I think a brand like us could thrive,” said Lenard.
Company president Lucas Umana said the business has had its eye on Montgomery County.
“We’ve been looking [in Montgomery County] for the last two years and then finally found what we think is an incredible opportunity for our business in the Kentlands area,” he said. “I think it has everything that we looked for–a great community, very diverse, educated community, a welcoming community. I think our food really ties in nicely with that because of the approachability of our food.”
The menu is not only adaptable to various palates but also affordable with bowls and three tacos starting at $11.49 and one taco starting at $4.50.
Expansion is still on the horizon for the business’s future, according to Lenard.
“We’d love to grow like all small businesses,” he said. “It’s hard, right? Part of it’s getting the traction that you want. The pandemic sucked the wind out of our sails a little bit but we’re kind of in a different phase. We’re feeling good like we could open more in Montgomery County, other suburbs in Virginia and try to expand some of our franchising opportunities.”
TaKorea, 261 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg. www.takorean.com. Open daily 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.