Hola a todos y bienvenidos a mi blog Mastication Monologues! Today I finally managed to go to a restaurant that has been three different visits in the making. Now, living in Korea has made me miss a lot of things back home, but none more than the variety of food that we have back in the USA, especially any type of Latin American/Spanish cuisine. So, I was determined to try Taco Cielo in Incheon since I heard it had the best Mexican food around. The first three times I went there (Saturday afternoon, Sunday afternoon, and a Wednesday evening) they were closed which left me absolutely flabbergasted that they would be closed during times that people would want to eat. However, today was no ordinary day since I managed to survive a huge Korean deluge and a killer workout in the gym. So I was hoping that my luck would change with this taqueria. I eventually made my way to Taco Cielo on the Incheon 1 Line all the way to Incheon Bus Terminal. I then left exit two, crossed the main street in front of the bus terminal, and turned right and then left when I reached the KEB. I walked about 100 feet, and I was in front of the building where it was nestled on the sixth floor. Here is their website.
When I entered the elevator, I was praying that I wasn’t going to be greeted with another, “Sorry, closed” sign on the dark glass door, and it seems that it was open…sort of. I got there at 4:45 pm on a Tuesday, and they didn’t open until 5 pm. I have no idea what is up with their operating hours, but they were quite hospitable. I was able to sit at a table and drink water until their kitchen opened. Plus, they had plenty of A/C, so that was muy bueno para mi. It had a good ambiance even though I was the only person in there, and I eventually chose two items that really caught my fancy on the menu. I plumped for the beef burrito with cheese gravy (9,600 W) since it was discount Burrito Tuesday (I saved 4,000 Won), and then I picked the beef fried Mexican rice (7,000 W) to get a little Korean/Asian flavor up in my meal. The main cook came back because he was astounded that I would order two things since he insinuated that I ordered enough food for three people. I’m surprised he never met hungrier waygooks than me.
Anyway, the burrito came out first, and it looked like Mount Popocatepetl just erupted all over a pueblo below its mighty cumbre (summit). They did not skimp on the queso fundido salsa which made me very excited since real cheese is quite rare in a land that considers quality cheese to come in tube form. I quickly got up in its guts to find plenty of beef, lettuce, cilantro, onions, and tomatoes beneath a fresh flour tortilla. It was like everything from back home managed to make the 13 hour plane ride to join me for the meal. The beef was juicy and seasoned with a bit of cumin while the lettuce and cilantro were both freshly chopped. The cook also double checked to see if I wanted cilantro in the first place which I found interesting because he was Korean, and most Koreans seem adverse to cilantro in dishes. Yet I know I definitely don’t look Korean, so perhaps it was just a force of habit for him to ask me if I wanted any. Portion-wise, the burrito was about six inches long tops, but the savory cheddar sauce definitely stole the show for the first part of my dinner. The second act of this food telenovela was somewhat odd.
Now back home in Chicago, almost every Mexican restaurant pairs entrees with a side of beans and rice, but I knew I wanted to try the Asian twist on a Mexican classic where they combined Korean fried rice with Mexican ingredients. What I ended up eating was certainly better than what I was expecting.
When the waitress brought it out, it was a mini-mound of rice on what seemed like a Nacho Libre sized tortilla along with a square, tostada- looking tortilla. She then recommended that I keep the fork to cut the crunchy tortilla, but I found that the tortillas were superfluous to the actual meal unless you planned on eating the rice with your hands Indian-style. I wouldn’t recommend it though. The actual rice was found underneath the center flaps of the larger tortilla which was drizzled with soy sauce, gochujang, and sour cream. All of that combined with the fried Mexican rice and cilantro to create a cool, spicy, and tangy creature that can only be likened to a culinary Chupacabra. I’ve only heard rumors about it in its natural habitat, but I’ll never forget this tortilla to mouth encounter which left me full and muy satisfecho.
So if you’re craving some Mexican food while visiting Incheon, definitely go to Taco Cielo. It seems to be a better bargain than Vato’s Tacos in Itaewon in Seoul, but I still have to check that establishment out. While it’s no Taco Grill like back home in my other post or Los Nopales, you definitely will feel like you died and went al cielo!