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The Eight Best Lines from Roy Choi's Profile in California Sunday Magazine

Writer Jay Caspian Kang chronicles the chef's wayward history and meteoric rise.

Roy Choi
Roy Choi
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Roy Choi is the main focus in the latest issue of California Sunday Magazine, a new print and web publication that will be distributed alongside the LA Times, SF Chronicle, and other newspapers across the state. Writer Jay Caspian Kang follows the Kogi chef through the last year, in which the budding cultural icon aims to bring high quality fast food to the masses. Here are the eight best lines from the profile.

1. Choi on The Line Hotel as his muse: "This hotel is going to be my version of a fucked-up Korean American coming-of-age novel...I'm going to take all my insecurities about growing up as a Korean kid - all my feelings of worthlessness, the pressure from the community and never feeling like I measured up to their standards - and put it all into this place"

2. On seeing the impressive Lotte Hotel in Seoul for the first time: "That place flipped the ideas I had of Western dominance, because there in Korea, they had built this huge, crazy fucking thing."

3. Kang on Choi's past life as a gambler: "Choi glosses over that period in L.A. Son, but not because he feels embarrassed by it. Instead, one gets the sense that he almost sees waywardness as the inevitable counterbalance to his current success, that he believes the man could not have been possible without a myth, one steeped heavily in hip-hop's well-worn narratives. Started from the bottom, and all that."

4. On the cultural melting pot of Koreatown: "That notion that the Kogi taco was somehow an evocation of Los Angeles's vast cultural landscape is not hyperbolic. Koreatown is a bit of a misnomer. In truth, if we're sticking to ethnic assignations, the neighborhood should be called Korea-Mexico-town"

5. On riding shotgun around L.A. with Roy Choi: "He takes these trips in an absurdly modest car - a burnt-orange Honda Element with one working door, which means that if you're riding shotgun with Roy Choi, he will open the passenger door for you and then politely ask you to open the driver's door from the inside."

6. On Choi's shyness: "When he's complimented by strangers - and it seems to happen a few times a day - Choi turns into a bashful teenager."

7. On whether Choi cares about his P.R.:  "There are times when I want to just go to the kitchen and work and forget all of it...but that's not my reality now. I feel like I have to be this new ... figure."

8. On Pot's mixed reception among Koreans: "Pot might not have ultimately bridged the two Korean Americas, but Choi was right to point out the divide. And therein lies his odd genius: His own insecurities, whether cultural, financial, or deeply personal, are always on display - they do not so much poke through the fabric of his public persona as create its shape and texture"

The LINE Hotel

3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (213) 381-7411