THE NOT-SO-SECRET HISTORY OF MARKET'S BEST FISH TACO
What we’re eating: Fish tacos from KOI on the Go at the Downtown Farmers Market at Rodney Square.
What everyone else is eating: Fish tacos from KOI on the Go.
Owner Paul Lauprasert pushes out more than 100 orders of these beauties during the typical two-hour lunch window on Wednesdays. Each one is made fresh and assembled to order. The truck also offers Thai fried rice, crab cakes and (if you’re super lucky and you catch them on special) pork dumplings, but the tacos that started as a side dish nine years ago have become the star of the show.
What people on the Internet are saying about the fish tacos: “I am not even exaggerating... best I have had!” “The fish tacos are an amazing experience! It is a burst of fresh flavors that will leave you smiling and craving some more!” “This isn't your usual fish fry on a fancy fontoon.” (We don’t know what that means, but we agree.)
The secret origins of the fish tacos, as told by Paul: “They came from our love of Japanese food. My wife and I really love going to Japanese restaurants, especially sushi restaurants. She's from Honduras -- that's how the Asian/Latino fusion theme came to be, you know? So we'd sit there eating and think, what can we do to add our own twist?”
“We started experimenting. We tried out different kinds of fish, before ending up with this flounder that we use. We loved the idea of breading it with panko. OK, well now that we have that going, what can we make it into? Let's wrap it with a tortilla! So we went with that.”
“Once we got the fish and the breading in place, then came the sauce. We thought, OK, what would go well with the taco besides pico de gallo or salsa. Since Japanese restaurants like to serve this wasabi mayo combo, we thought, OK, let's try that. We’ve got our own Thai chilies and mixed it with a little bit of spice, and that's what gives it the color and the flavor. And, oh my gosh, nine out of 10 people will ask for extra sauce. People will say ‘Please, please, don't be shy with the mayo!’ OK! OK! I will not be shy.”
“The Thai fish sauce, we put it outside on the table for a reason, because I have people say, ‘Paul, you do it the way you like it.’ I say, mmmm, I don't know, because my mild is different from your mild. That's why we put it outside so people can adjust it. We do give them a heads up, because people always ask, ‘Is this salsa?’ We say no, it's not salsa, it's beyond that. It is lime juice, cilantro, Thai chilies and fish sauce. I cut slices of fresh lime and I squeeze it right into the jar. We make it fresh every day. It's always today's fresh, not yesterday's fresh. We used to bring one jar. These days, we have to bring two jars. Especially to Rodney Square!”
“We've gotten a few recognitions, sure, but to me, my philosophy is always work hard in silence, let success make the noise. I've always believed in that.”