Koja Kitchen embodies the food truck dream. In 2011, Alan Tsai and three friends bought a high-tech set of wheels for meals. Their Korean-Japanese fusion coaxes complex flavors from superb ingredients. After catching the eye of the Food Network’s Guy Fieri, they established stationery joints in Berkeley and San Francisco. Recently, they debuted their third location in north San Jose.

Koja blends Asian, Mexican and American sensibilities into a futuristic cuisine straight from the San Fransokyo of Big Hero 6. The sandwich “buns” are a culinary innovation—steamed rice cakes painted with garlic butter and crisped on the flattop grill. The crackly, then tender pucks epitomize Tsai’s ability to mingle strange and familiar into high-quality fast food.

When I went, Koja had sold out of the famed Korean short ribs that Fieri described as “out of bounds.” I went with their BBQ beef ($7.50). The thin strips of tangy, salty sweetness balanced harmoniously with sesame vinaigrette lettuce and a juicy slice of caramelized pineapple. The Ahi Tuna bowl ($9.95) provides a bed of warm rice sitting below chilly cubes of soft sashimi, sweet, supple seaweed and bitter spring greens coated in a soy-ginger dressing. The chicken taco ($2.95) featured savory meat boosted by wasabi mayo, vibrant cilantro and fried shallots. The braised pork taco ($3.55) had rich cuts braised in miso coconut topped with garlic aioli and a sprinkling of bright orange masago. The fall-apart pork also headlines the Umami Fries ($6.35)—thick waffle-cuts with the skin intact.

They also offer hot-fried wings ($7.95) coated in medium Korean BBQ or spicy habanero “DMZ” sauce. And their strawberry mango mint lemonade ($2.75) is a tad sweet but still tasty.

It’s worth noting, I have never seen a more crowded standing-room-only restaurant. The line snaked through the interior, at least 50 deep, never dipping below 30 for my entire meal. Like the food, the interior is abstract—hollow red cubes reminiscent of paper lanterns wrap around steampunk light fixtures with visible filaments.

Koja Kitchen serves top-notch chow at a boggling speed and price. Fieri’s spot-on with his “out-of-bounds” label. This place operates in a culinary no-man’s land, creating sumptuous Frankenstein monsters out of the Bay Area’s mingling influences. I want to live in a world where this becomes the new Chipotle.

KoJa Kitchen
1705 Oakland Rd., San Jose.
408.436.5010. kojakitchen.com.