500 Tacos: Yummi Tacos & More

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Yummi Tacos & More
12518 Research Blvd., Suite M (map), 512-506-8780, www.yummitaco.com
Hours: 7am-8pm Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm Sat, closed Sun
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 02.17.15
 
The taco is a support group, always there to say “It’s OK,” no matter what free association nonsense the rest of the group has to “share.” But sometimes it really is OK, and what should come across as a culinary Mad Lib — bulgogi tacos, lemongrass on corn tortillas, “where the East meets the Southwest” — has something cute to say. This little storefront is AA for Hello Kitty kitchenographers. My name is Bill, and I’m an adora-holic.
 
The taco: Spicy eggplant
On a bad day, eggplant is the zombie of the vegetable world: rubbery, malodorous and slippery. Luckily, it’s also slow and easy to put down. On a good day, eggplant is the star of a taco like this, sleek and resilient, a survivor quick to adopt the character of its sauce, in this case a sweet brown glaze that counters the eggplant’s funky meter. And it’s not like I have a vegetarian quota to fill for this series. This soft-sautéed tangle of sliced eggplant in thick, sweet Korean sauce beat four carnivoral competitors and fried tofu for top spot on the taco plate. You’ll want to brush away the camouflage of chopped lettuce, but keep the carrots, sweet onions, sesame seeds and cilantro for crunch and character. ($1.99)
 
 
 Tortillas: If we’re doing this Asian fusion taco thing, there might as well be doubled-up 5-inch corn tortillas as thin and paper-flavored as moo shu wrappers. No chance I’m paying a 25 percent upcharge to substitute food-service flour.
 Salsa: If you don’t count hoisin, soy and sweet-and-spicy sauces, there are six taco dressings at the ready: jalapeño and habanero ranch dressings that my guest described as hot and hotter renditions of Elmer’s Glue, a glossy mild tomatillo green, a chili powder taco shop red, a raunchy orange “Loco” and a workhorse sambal chili paste. The sambal notwithstanding, you neither need — nor likely want — any of them.
 More Mad Libs: At $1.99, why not try all six tacos on the lunch menu? They’re each smothered in chopped lettuce, carrot and onion as thick as a Boston snowfail, but digging out is a rewarding exercise: sticks of breaded tofu as thick as malt-shop fries and just as crispy; firm chicken with delicate lemongrass accents; sweet and fatty bulgogi beef; and whitefish so moist and pale it might have been poached. Each is finished with different sauces courting the same winning ratio of spicy and sweet. But the spicy barbecue pork comes off more like the candied pork floss you find in bags on the dry-good shelves at the Asian grocery. Need something mainstream? Yummi makes a perfectly good all-day breakfast taco with bacon, chorizo and cheese for under $3.
 Because bulgogi: Yummi uses the same protein roster for banh mi sandwiches on bolillo rolls as it does for tacos. But the novelty attraction is a bulgogi burger, with that same fatty, sweet beef. On a honeyed Hawaiian roll with lettuce, tomato and spicy mayo, it’s as sweet as a milkshake. A beef milkshake, with a side of thick, handcut fries and a Maine Root fountain soda for $6.49.
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)