Providence is such an underrated city. Many overlook some of the unique attractions and landmarks that the “Renaissance City” has to offer. And when it comes to food, we have everything. Well, almost everything. The food truck craze is sweeping the nation and Rhode Island has joined in on the fun. Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ is quickly becoming a local favorite in the eyes of college students, hipsters, businessmen and politicians alike.
Now this isn’t the first food truck to appear in the Capital. Havens Bros. have been around since the late 19th century and is a Providence staple. But Mama Kim’s is a new breed in the realm of mobile munchies and they intend to become a part of Providence’s rich history.
Mama Kim’s has two “locations”. For lunch, they park atop a sidewalk in Downtown’s Kennedy Plaza. And during dinner (5pm-8pm), Mama Kim’s hangs out on the intersection of Waterman and Thayer (Brown dormitories). They also update new menu items and specials on their Facebook and Twitter pages. It’s a great way to connect to their legion of loyal followers.
I went for lunch and I must admit, I really love their downtown location. It’s a landmark so everyone in the city knows where it is. Not to mention they are smack dab in the middle of the action. Banks, hotels, and the mall are all within walking distance. So it’s not surprising during lunch hours to see people from all walks of life standing in line awaiting one of the many dishes on the menu.
Running into the Mayor was pretty cool. I found out he was a Classical High School graduate like myself and he was in the same graduating class as my oldest brother Ramon. While in line we discussed economics, Facebook, and well….food!
As I awaited my order of sliders and Korean sweet potato fries, I was fortunate enough to get a few minutes and sit down with one of the owners of Mama Kim’s, Chef Hyun. During our talk, he stressed the importance of fresh ingredients and the work ethic needed to supply customers with authentic tasting Korean BBQ.
Chef Hyun also emphasized the role Mama Kim’s has in the community. The truck’s exterior was designed by RISD students and their “base kitchen” in Cranston where all of the prep work for the truck takes place, is run by recent graduates of Johnson and Wales.
Mama Kim’s is the ONLY place in R.I. where you can grab an Ice Cold Milk Soda!!
At $3 a piece, these sliders are a no-brainer. Pictured above are two of Mama Kim’s most popular sliders. The Beef Galbi consists of tender beef short rib marinated in a blend of Korean soy sauce, imported Korean pears, onions and garlic. The pile of short rib is layered atop a mesculin salad and sandwiched between soft Portuguese sweet bread.
Not to be outdone, the Beef Bulgolgi slider contains shaved sirloin and the juicy pieces of beef are doused in a house-made wasabi aioli sauce. For the finishing touch, the slider is topped with hand-cut scallions which were tossed in a Korean sesame oil and Korean peppers. Simple yet flavorful, this slider is very popular in contemporary restaurants across the city of Seoul.
These sliders were incredible. The beef was tender and the “fall-off-the-bone” texture matched perfectly with the warm, soft sweet bread. And Mama Kim’s doesn’t skimp on the portions either. These sliders were filled to the brim with beef.
In the end, I chose the Beef Galbi as my favorite. The complexity of the house marinade really stood out. And the “Korean BBQ” sauce that blanketed the short rib contained the perfect amount of heat. Truly one of the best sliders I have ever tasted.
Don’t worry I didn’t forget about those sweet potato fries…
These were the perfect companion to my sliders. At only $2, they are a great “on-the-go” snack. The sweet potato fries are lightly tossed in olive oil and then topped with toasted sesame seeds. The glaze of the oil brings out the natural sweetness and these things are so good before you know it, you’re looking into an empty cup!!
Chef Hyun, Mama Kim (she’s real!), and the rest of the friendly staff at Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ are continually providing hungry customers with high quality food at dirt cheap prices. You will not find better Korean BBQ anywhere, especially in Rhode Island!!