It’s a long way to Asia, but the Rice Queen food truck brings Nacogdoches the kind of cuisine one might find on the streets of Korea.
Their most popular dish is a rice bowl with a choice of chicken, beef, tofu or fried spam. The menu is abundant in vegetarian options and also includes a small selection of drinks and side items. Their menu also offers cookies from Milk & Honey Baking Co., a home-based bakery in Nacogdoches.
I ordered a chicken rice bowl, pajeon, a fried tofu skewer and a Korean iced coffee. All four items ran a little over $20 after tax.
Much of the menu was a new experience for me, so while I can’t speak to its authenticity, I can certainly speak for its flavor. The meal was a nice balance of traditional Asian flavors, with most of the sweetness coming from the coffee and sauces.
Now let’s get into the individual dishes. I ordered white rice and my egg sunny side up with my chicken dish. The white rice was standard sticky rice, and the egg was seasoned with Korean red pepper flakes called gochutgaru. The peppers weren’t overpowering, and both were cooked in a basic fashion, but cooked well. The chicken was made with peanut oil, garnished with sesame seeds and accompanied by a pineapple-based sauce, which gave it a mild sweetness along with the saltiness of soy sauce. I enjoyed the sauce, but the flavor was a bit too subtle in my opinion. There were dressings of green onions, green cabbage, and my favorite, a blend of pickled radish and carrots, which helped add a bit more to the mild flavor.
That’s all for the main dish, now let’s move on to the sides. I have never tried fried tofu before, but as many times as it was featured on the menu, I had to give it a shot. I was met by a skewer of three very delectable cubes of tofu dressed in gochujang sauce and sesame seeds. As with any street food, it is best enjoyed hot and had a nice soft texture and a light, crispy exterior that made for a very tender and savory snack. It was a very nice introduction to the world of tofu.
Last of the food, but certainly not least, was the pajeon. The pajeon is a Korean pancake made with charred scallions and a side of a sweet soy sauce and gochujang. It was the first time I’ve heard of a pajeon, and it will not be the last. I expected the sweet flavor of a western pancake but was greeted by a light savory flavor with a light but slightly chewy texture. I’m a sucker for green onions, so it was a welcome addition. The sauce helps to balance the flavor a bit and adds some moisture to help it go down without drying out your mouth. I preferred the gochujang over the sweet soy sauce. I have a high spice tolerance, but the spice was very subtle.
The Korean coffee was iced and made with sweetened condensed milk. The taste of the coffee was strong, but the sweetness of the condensed milk balanced the drink without either overpowering the other. It was enjoyable to have alongside the saltiness that comes with Asian spices and sauce, so don’t suck it all down before your food is ready.
All in all, I had a great experience at Rice Queen. The staff was very helpful and willing to answer any questions I had about the dishes and got my food out quickly. The price was well worth the visit and I look forward to the next time I get to sit down and have a meal.
Rice Queen can often be found at the Red House Winery, but their location, menu and hours vary week-to-week. Their updated schedule can be found on Instagram @ricequeensf.