Laid-back, a little surly and genuinely funny, Choi has become the current archetype of the L.A. chef, which is pretty good for a guy whose most famous dish is still a Korean taco served from a truck....The bareness of the restaurant, the pounding gangsta rap and the menu of unreconstructed Korean stews speaks to an extremely specific Koreatown experience....[Photo: Matthew Kang]
But when you order something called Dang Son and discover that you're getting a solid half-gallon of something resembling the street-food classic tteokbokki, thick rice noodles with fish cake in a kind of sweet chile sauce, or that Rooster Sauce turns out to be more of a soup than a thick stew, it can be discomfiting. The occasional menu difficulties, in fact, are pretty close to what you might experience at a local bar like DGM, where you try to navigate an untranslated Korean menu. It's confusing. It's fun. You'll go home with a lot of leftovers.
Somebody's having a good time — everybody's having a good time — but a Koreatown habitué will tell you where to find more fully realized versions of many of the dishes, elsewhere in the area — meatier short-rib stew at Seongbukdong, spicier crab soup at Ondal 2, silkier tofu stew at So Kong Dong or perfect marinated raw crab at Soban. (However, the chewy whole fried fish, the pickled sea beans and the grilled vegetables may be the best in Koreatown.)Gold gets what Roy Choi is doing in Koreatown, and despite the dishes not really beating out the best versions around town, no place captures the energy of the enclave quite like Choi. [LAT]
But this is Choi's homage to the broad L.A. Korean American food universe in which he was raised; it is raucous, and it is vital and engaging in a way that even the best of the more sedate specialists can never be. Pot isn't a careful re-creation of a Seoul buljip. It is a sizzling, loving creature of Koreatown L.A.
Besha Rodell at LA Weekly writes a thoughtful piece on the current state of tasting menus in Los Angeles:
There's a relief in giving over the reins to a professional, in allowing a chef to tell you a precisely constructed story, complete with flourishes and subplots you might never have explored of your own volition. But it's vastly more complicated than simply putting one course in front of the other — like chapters of a book, the story needs to hang together, the pacing needs to hold your attention and each episode ought to leave you hungry for the next.
Difficult? Yes. Worthwhile? In the hands of the right chef, with the right support staff, absolutely. [LAW]
Meanwhile, Brad Johnson files a review on Son of a Gun, saying that it gets even better with age:
Overall, the menu doesn't appear to have changed much since the early days. Everything simply feels more refined, more finessed. The world's tiniest lobster roll is still offered here, and it's a powerful little bite – plan on ordering one of these for every person at the table. [LAR]
The Elsewhere: The Offalo tries Guerilla Tacos, Darin Dines wasn't really into The Royce, FoodGPS likes The Poseidon at Mariscos Jalisco, Doah's Hungry likes JiST Cafe in Little Tokyo, KevinEats digs Bourbon Steak in Glendale, and The Actor's Diet makes it to Sun Cafe.
· All Week in Reviews [~ELA~]