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Kogi Hits The Bar

Wish your brick-and-mortar restaurant could tap into the street food craze? P. F. Chang’s Asian Bistro has found a way: serving Kogi Asian tacos and similar fare from 3 p.m to 6 p.m. every day at its 200-plus units nationwide. The folks who run Los Angeles food truck phenom Kogi Korean BBQ might be the only ones not happy with this Happy Hour deal.

To date, trendsetting Kogi has leveraged its 50,000 Twitter followers to build itself out to five food trucks that serve its original Korean BBQ fusion food. Chef Roy Choi walked away with a Food and Wine Best New Chef award for 2010, and he and the Kogi folks have recently spun off a restaurant with a permanent location in L.A. It’s Chego, whose motto is “Chillax peasant food from the soul,” “chillax” being street shorthand for “chill out” and “relax.” Chego serves Pan-Asian rice bowls amped up with the same crazy flair Choi first demonstrated with his food truck offerings.

The original Kogi Korean BBQ’s truck spawned thousands of competitors. But now the term “Kogi” seems to have entered the public domain. At least far enough so that P.F. Chang’s Happy Hour lineup can look like this.

New Mandarin Champagne Cocktail
All signature cocktails including Asian Pear Mojito and the Chinese 88 Martini, $6
Beer, sake and wine, $3-$6

Dim Sum:
Six new steamed dumpling choices, including Edamame, Pork & Leek, Lemongrass Chicken and Bacon & Egg Siu Mai
Flaming Red Wontons return to the menu: pork dumplings in a spicy garlic and sesame soy sauce finished with scallions and pickled chili peppers
Priced from $3.25-$6

Street Fare:
New Kogi Asian Tacos in four varieties: Traditional Beef, Spicy Shrimp, Red Cooked Pork and Mahi Mahi. Each taco is topped with a medley of fresh chopped vegetables and herbs served in a warm flour tortilla
Shanghai Street Dumplings return to the menu: a classic from the streets of Shanghai filled with chicken, ginger, green onions and soy
Priced from $3-$4.95

It’s a darned good Happy Hour lineup by anyone’s standards. But even at these extremely reasonable prices it probably won’t draw the Twittering crowds like the original Kogi Korean BBQ’s fleet of trucks can do. And P.F. Chang’s gambit might tell us how many people want to eat street food in a non-street setting—i.e., sitting inside with a $6 Asian Pear Mojito in their hand instead of huddling on the sidewalk. We’re betting many do, especially considering the upgrade in ambience.

Could some version of this street food Happy Hour menu work at other full-service restaurants? Why not?