Photo: Facebook.com/RedSesameFoodTruckMany Cincinnatians recognize the name Red Sesame, even if they can’t pinpoint where they know it from.
The popular food truck has popped up everywhere from the University of Cincinnati’s main campus, various regional events, the Ridge Avenue Shell, Medpace, as well as local neighborhoods. If you haven’t been able to catch it in the wild, maybe you had it at a wedding or a work event.
Now you can order the sometimes-elusive eatery straight to your door. Red Sesame is available for delivery on DoorDash and Grubhub for those who want to try something new without leaving the house.
BJ Kim, a South Korea native and the founder and owner of Red Sesame, started the food truck in 2011 after finding a gap in Cincinnati’s food industry. He had just transferred for a job from New York and learned that Cincinnati was behind on the “trendy stuff.”
“I realized [Cincinnati] needed some more diversification,” Kim tells CityBeat.
The idea for a Korean-Mexican fusion began with the idea of a Korean barbecue taco and took off from there.
“I spent a lot of time educating people about our concept because they’d never had Korean food,” Kim says.
In addition to Korean barbecue tacos, Red Sesame offers Korean barbecue burritos, rice bowls and mini quesadillas. The simple menu is good for those who enjoy Korean cuisine as well as those completely new to it.
While the ingredients are familiar, the homemade sauces set the food apart, and you can add kimchi to an item for an extra kick.
While the Red Sesame food truck has become quite popular since opening, the pandemic pulled business down by about 60 percent. The food truck industry, which was valued at $985 million in 2019, has been largely left out of the conversation surrounding restaurant closures during the pandemic. While a food truck might seem like it could thrive in the realm of outdoor dining during a pandemic, most customers weren’t leaving their homes, especially in the beginning.
Kim, who admits he had been against outsourced delivery services because of high fees, saw the opportunity to get Red Sesame’s food to those stuck at home.
“People direct messaged me and requested delivery,” Kim tells CityBeat.
At that point, and after the experience of 2020, Kim knew delivery was the next step.
In January 2021, Red Sesame showed up on DoorDash and Grubhub. “Actually, it has taken off pretty good,” Kim says.
Food options range from $5-$11 with sets available combining tacos or a burrito with the mini quesadilla.
While Kim is still being sold on emerging into the delivery world, he says that “every little bit counts.”
After a year of cancellations and postponements, Cincinnatians can look forward to the food truck favorite being its most accessible yet.
For more information, visit redsesamebbq.com.