Photo by Colin Houck

Big Flavor in a Little Korea Taqueria

One of downtown’s newer food additions serves up Korean fusion

“Do you serve cat?”

This racist question was asked of Chi Shin shortly after he opened Chi’s Korean Tacos in downtown Eugene last year. When Shin inquired why he would pose such a question, the man responded, “Well you have a cat for your logo.”

“KFC has an old man on their logo. What do they sell?” Shin says he responded. 

To be clear, Chi’s does not serve cat meat.

What Chi’s serves is what Shin calls “Korean food in a tortilla.” Known as Korean fusion, it’s basically just that — traditional Korean barbecued meats and vegetables served in corn and flour tortillas. Add in a little cheese and some hot sauce and you have one of the more interesting products to come out of the Los Angeles food fusion scene.

Located in the former Burrito Boy location near the downtown EMX stop, it wouldn’t be inappropriate to call Chi’s a “hole-in-the-wall.” In fact, Chi’s was Eugene Weekly’s 2019 staff pick for “Best Hole-in-the-Wall.” But the tight quarters belie Shin’s big personality as well as the big, bold flavors he produces.

Shin makes more or less all of the main ingredients by hand, which he says significantly cuts into his “sitting around time,” but also that he loves what he’s doing and loves being able to serve people good food at a reasonable price. Shin notes he’s certainly not getting rich, but he’s paying his bills.

Chi’s has been open for just under a year, and Shin says he’s been having fun so far. About being in the mix downtown, he says. “It’s interesting. They keep me entertained every day. It’s not the whole dull, same thing every day.”

When asked about his long-term vision for the restaurant, Shin says he basically just wants to stick around.

“I want people coming back years later and saying ‘Oh yeah, I remember when this place just started up. Oh my god, he’s still here and he’s got the same thing going.’”

“I want consistency, but an ever-changing type of deal. You can come here and find new things but come in to a familiar setting.”

Chi’s Korean Tacos is located at 30 W. 10th Avenue Eugene. Hours of operation are 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday and 11:30 am to 5:30 pm on Saturday. Phone orders can be made by calling 541-636-6136

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