With the fusion–food trend on the rise, Tuk Tuk Real is a restaurant that has taken a new approach to unique food craze. Tuk Tuk Real combines Thai flavors with staple Mexican dishes. The restaurant is not meant to be authentic in either cuisine said their chef, Alex Boonphaya. “We started this restaurant because I am Thai and he’s [points to other chef, Silvestre Rincon] Mexican... if people want authentic, they can go home and make it themselves.” The menu consists mainly of well known Mexican dishes such as burritos, tacos, and even tortas, but the flavor profiles are uniquely Asian, though not always Thai. Tacos with kimchi feature a Korean twist and Bahn Mi tortas, profile a more Vietnamese flavoring, and the majority the dishes have Asian fusion infused in their Mexican-Thai fusion. Boonphaya says their menu is ever evolving and they “pay a lot of attention to comments.” This clearly shows in their food, with every dish including an inventive or otherwise unique element.
Of the dishes I sampled, I found the duck tacos ($7) to be brilliant. The duck was perfectly cooked and marinated in a cardamom–soy sauce and then topped off with salsa verde, kimchi, pickled onion and lime. The acidity of the lime and salsa, along with the vinegar of the pickled kimchi cut the spice of the food but did not diminish its overall flavor profile.
The menu is fairly meat–centric, and is especially heavy in red meat. They have several types of beef tacos including tinga (shredded), lengua (tongue) and suadero (a thin strip of meat between the leg and belly). Similarly they prepare several different types of pork, including a traditional “Al Pastor,” which is only $2 on Taco Tuesdays. However, the restaurant does have vegetarian and fish options, including fried tofu small plates and mushroom versions of their tacos and burritos. The Mahi Mahi tacos ($7) are particularly popular among their pescatarian eaters.
Their side dishes are also expertly curated. Our very spunky waitress, Erica, said, “you will love the corn.” While I just expected roast corn, it came with layers of mayonnaise, fresh cheese and chili pepper ($6). Again, the food is spicy, but the cool flavor of the cheese and natural sweetness of the corn made it an instant favorite. Similarly the chips ($3) and salsa ($3) were freshly made in house and expertly seasoned.
As for why as college readers you should be particularly interested in Tuk Tuk Real, they are not only on GrubHub, but they are also a BYO and are reasonably priced, especially considering the size of their dishes. Between the experience, the unique cuisine and the very college friendly pricing, Tuk Tuk Real should be added to anyone’s dining list. Grab a bottle of tequila, a few friends and get ready for some fun.