Ever since Chef Choi curbed his humble food chariot, the much beloved Korean taco truck, Kogi, at various spots around Los Angeles, his career has ebbed and flowed, spilling over onto the big screen in the movie Chef and into brick and mortar restaurants inside the Line hotel, located in Los Angeles’ Koreatown on Wilshire Blvd. The Line hotel draws inspiration from Chef Choi’s Koreatown ‘hood, houses in a mid-century concrete building with floor to ceiling windows.
A couple taps of a ladle against a stockpot and all eyes are on Chef Choi for his newest endeavor where he conducts the cuisine at his lobby restaurant, POT, inside the hotel, and COMMISSARY, located in the hotel’s greenhouse, where fruits and vegetables will take the spotlight.
Getting baked with Roy Choi[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Photo by Rick Poon[/caption]
- When you stay at a hotel, what do expect from the hotel’s food service and how did it influence your creative decisions with The Line?
RC: I just expect it to be good. I have a hotel background so I know how hard the cooks are working and the personality of a hotel kitchen. I believe in them and just hope that they execute the way I know they can.
The food at the Line was to just make a place that incorporated the ideas of an a la carte restaurant with the soul of the neighborhood and the complexity of a hotel. We wanted it to feel like home. Wherever that home may be in the context of your upbringing.
2. For your New York Time’s profile, you mentioned that in your hotel you’d like guests “to be serenaded by a steady flow of premium-grade hip-hop.” How does hip-hop enter into the equation when it comes to your menu?
RC: Those are the words of the author, not mine. But I am hip-hop and hip-hop is me. It’s not how it enters the equation, it is the equation. Feel me?
Roy Choi is hip-hop. Hip-hop is him.[caption id="attachment_11176" align="aligncenter" width="757"] Photo by Rick Poon[/caption]
3. For a traveler who goes abroad, say, to a different country, what essential ingredients are you bringing with you in your carry-on luggage?
RC: Eye patch covers for sleep, hand lotion, lip balm, eye drops, magazines, a book, Swedish Fish, headphones, matches, rolling papers.
4. Commissary, a fruits and vegetable-focused restaurant serving food from a greenhouse, opens up in a couple weeks. Fruits and vegetables seem to always play a supporting role in restaurants, how do you plan to make them the stars of the dish?
RC: By making them the center and the root and having things build out from there. Where it ends up is up to the creative process, but if the dish starts with the plant then the spirit is true.
His homage to Korean-American food is POT[caption id="attachment_7575" align="aligncenter" width="770"] Photo by Rick Poon[/caption]
5. Would you say Commissary is a variation on a theme of the farm-to-table movement and how do you think it will influence and shape California’s cuisine in the future?
RC: That’s too deep of a question. It’s just a fruits and vegetable restaurant in a greenhouse in Ktown that thinks about the immigrants who work on our farms and live in our cities. A place that celebrates the struggle and the people.
6. What specially made dishes would you prepare for these hip-hop stars?
Don’t mess with Roy’s ramen
Roy is perfecting Michelin Star caliber comfort food for the hunger-panged stoner who wants something a little more substantial than a bag of Funyuns, like this recipe for the perfect instant ramen.
“I’ve been a freak when it comes to my instant ramen. Don’t f*** wit it, don’t f*** wit me, let me do my thing. This is how I do my thing.”
The Line Hotel (3515 Wilshire Boulevard, Koreatown, Los Angeles, CA 90010; (213) 381-7411)