The first thought that will come to mind when you see Komodo's "Phorrito" on their menu board outside their nondescript restaurant in Santa Monica will either be: What the fuck? or somewhere along the lines of: How does that even work?
After all, burritos and pho are some of the best dishes created by man, and if a pho taco can work, what could possibly go wrong in burrito form? You will then take your first skeptical bite of the beastly thing and get a mouthful of al dente rice noodles, basil, hoisin, sriracha sauce, sauteed onions, jalapeño, and thin, tender slices of ribeye beef lightly poached in a traditional pho broth. At this point, you'll quickly realize just how legit this Vietnamese-Mexican abomination actually is, and sooner than you notice, the entire meat-and-carb torpedo will be gone.
This is the third year that Komodo's phorrito has been in existence. It is a seasonal item that is only available from October 1 to December 31, and its short stint has inspired a cult following not unlike the crazed fans who follow the ribwich sandwich on The Simpsons.
The mastermind behind the world's first phorrito is chef Erwin Tjahyadi, a first-generation Indonesian-American who was raised in LA's Asian food mecca known as the San Gabriel Valley. He is one of the partners behind Komodo, which is one of the most underrated restaurants doing Asian-Mexican fusion food in all of Los Angeles, despite being around for the same time that Kogi BBQ has existed. (Komodo's food truck opened approximately one month after Kogi.)
Tjahyadi grew up eating pho "every morning" and according to him, the creation of this burrito was brought by his business partners constantly nagging him to have a soup special at Komodo. "There was a lot of trial and error involved to get this just right. The secret is to have it be as juicy as possible. Everyone assumes that I'm going to serve it with a dipping broth but I just make sure that the beef is so juicy that it releases the pho broth when you bite into it."
The particular spices used in his beef broth were inspired by his favorite pho restaurant, Noodle City. His decision to take the burrito route over the taco route reflects his time working in restaurants in San Diego. On a line cook's salary, he lived off the Mexican food scene there and many french-fry-stuffed California-style burritos, which are already crazy in and of themselves.
Should a pho burrito even exist? Probably not. But when it tastes this good and is executed this well with so much love, who the hell cares.