Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tyson Bees

When Tyson Bees opened outside the Penn Museum in December, it generated a lot of buzz: every foodie in Philly wanted to jump on the Korean-fusion bandwagon, and they tripped over themselves to heap praise on the truck's Asian-Mexican mash-up tacos.

Tyson Bees follows in the tradition of L.A.'s Korean taco trucks, which are wildly popular on the West coast, and have recently made inroads both here and in New York. The truck's founder, Tyson Wong Ophaso, is actually Thai (and he's lived in France and San Francisco), and the food he serves up is a combination of Vietnamese, Mexican, Korean and Thai influences. He's very friendly and seems to have a good rapport with his customers. Tyson Bees has vibrant, eye-catching artwork, and on sunny days, it's surrounded by families and hungry college students, all clutching playing cards, which is how Ophaso keeps track of orders.

For me (and for anyone who regularly depends on the University City food truck scene for lunch), though, there are the inevitable comparisons to the now defunct Coup de Taco, which used to sit on 40th street. Especially since, when I visited a few weeks ago, I ordered the Thai Basil Chicken tacos, 3 for $8 (or $3 each). Maybe it's not fair to compare the two Thai tacos--but if you do, it's pretty clear who the winner is. The flavors in Tyson Bees' tacos were sorely lacking. The paper-thin radish slices added a nice crunch, and the lime was properly tangy. But the taco was overwhelmingly bland (and the sauce was runny). There just wasn't anything aggressive or interesting about it. It left me wanting to grab the nearest salt shaker or pepper flakes, in an effort to turn the taste volume up. Maybe my experience was a victim of too-high expectations. In any case, I do plan to give it another try at some point in the hope that my last meal will be proven a fluke.

Tyson Bees
33rd and Spruce St
Philadelphia PA 19104


  1. eek! what happened to coup de taco??

  2. agreed. the "short rib" in their taco isn't the delicious braised meet you'd expect, but little bits of mystery meat in some kind of gray gravy.... i'd like to give the place another try, though, as you hear such good things about it.

  3. my friend and i thought the bulgolgi one was quite good, and the soybean one was very refreshing, but we were underwhelmed by the curry one we had. my friend also didn't the burrito at all, and said it was pretty much dominated by rice.



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