Like many LA food success stories, Komodo launched in 2009 as a food truck. Food trucks have been a great way for aspiring chefs to test their own concepts before committing, and coming up with, the collateral to fund their own brick and mortar restaurant. Things went well for the Komodo concept on wheels, and then the first Komodo Cafe was launched on Pico and Robertson, and now there's another location on Main Street in Venice.
Chef Erwin Tjahyadi is the mastermind behind Komodo and has a diverse background that can be seen in his cooking and on his menu. He's worked with Wolfgang Puck and was most recently lead cook at Hotel Bel Air. Chef Erwin combines Asian Fusion flavors with a little French flair.
I checked out the latest and largest Komodo outpost on Main Street. They took over the old Baja Fresh location which I will admit, I was sad to see close. When my fridge was empty, it was nice to have a shrimp taco or salad waiting for me down the street, so my fingers were crossed Komodo could also serve as a reliable back-up kitchen.
Komodo is a casual, better than fast food outpost. You order at a counter and they bring the food to you, and will even come by and ask if you want a drink refill, which you do, because you're drinking the lychee lemonade that is the perfect blend of sweet and tart.
The combo deals are a good value and good way to sample several of their unique tacos. You can't go wrong with the Killer Combo which includes 4 tacos of your choosing. As you can see, they don't skimp on the fillings and offer quite a colorful presentation.
The Komodo 2.0 was filled with seared top sirloin with an jalapeño aioli and a fresh roasting southwest corn salad. Solid.
The Java contained Indonesian shredded pork rendang that had been braised in coconut milk, giving it a nice slightly sweet taste to mix in with the fresh tomato and cucumber salad. I love Thai flavors and liked the mix of flavors and textures here.
It's pretty hard not to pass up the taco with tater tots in it. They really wouldn't need to add much else, but they do give you some top sirloin with a seared quail egg on top. A touch of garlic aioli finished off the MP3. Fun to eat and I liked their homemade salsa on this one as well.
The Asian Marinated Chicken was grilled with rice and mandarin oranges. It was fine, but probably the least special of all the tacos.
I had heard the Blazin' Shrimp was uber spicy, so I went for the gambas al ajillo shrimp instead and was quite pleased. Large shrimp were sauteed with smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic and some fresh squeezed lemon juice. It was slightly sweet and very tasty. You can even opt for a healthier brown rice.
The crab cakes reminded me of the tater tots. They were very fried, but the skin was nice and crisp, and not too thick with good crab flavor inside. The curry aioli was a soothing, creamy companion.
Komodo uses all grass-fed beef and shops locally and seasonally, creating all of their recipes from scratch. All of that makes them a pretty worthy back-up kitchen. It's nice to have them in the neighborhood.