Think there aren't any restaurants open late in L.A.? Residents who work late beg to differ. Andrew Ti keeps the night owl hours of a freelancer writer/blogger, and has seen some interesting things in his late-night jaunts.
DGM is not an easy place to find. Hidden in Koreatown behind an unmarked doorway -- or, more accurately, an overly-marked doorway, as it had about three different and highly-confusing addresses on it -- the atmosphere is best described as "squatter chic." There's an off-the-radar, let's-just-throw-a-sheet-over-this-alleyway-and-call-it-a-day feel to the place. When a waiter told our photographer he could take photos of the food, but absolutely nothing else, it felt completely right.
We're here because Andrew Ti suggested it. He's the writer behind the highly-read and hilarious blog "Yo, Is This Racist?", where he responds to questions from readers asking whether or not certain things in their everyday lives are subtly racist (spoiler: they are). More recently, he started tracking pop culture racism for Grantland. Well into a Tuesday night, we sat down with Andrew for some Korean fried chicken, a kimchi pancake, and probably way too many Cass beers.
Rick: So, why this place?
Andrew: If you would have asked me six months ago, I would have taken you to Dinner House M, which was this quasi-legal weird Japanese bar with fairly lax hours. But it recently got shut down.
Rick: Does this also have the super-illegal late night thing happening?
Andrew: No. Last time we were here, we got thrown out somewhere around two. I imagine not everyone gets thrown out at two here. But it's still a similar vibe of bizarreness.
Rick: It's creepily post-apocalyptic.
Andrew: This is where the future people in Terminator go to unwind. After a day of shooting robots, this is where you come to polish your laser beam and have a little bit of future beer. I was fairly confident when you wanted someplace KCET's never been to before.
Rick: This is certainly it.
Rick: Was it packed the last time you were here?
Andrew: It was rowdy. They had to break up a fight, and it was almost a bottle fight. But it was the most gentle fight I've ever seen in my life. Basically, a dude in a suit walked over where we were sitting, and he'd been arguing with someone, and he reached down to our table and picked up a bottle. But he did it so slowly that we thought, "Does he work here?" We thought it was some weird hospitality thing. And then he turned around and started yelling at the dude again, and it's like, oh, no, no, he's just super drunk and trying to get in a bottle fight.
Rick: And the staff took care of it?
Andrew: That's the thing, no one got too upset about it. The employees broke it up, but I don't think they even threw them out. I saw both of them later on. They'd just been separated.
Andrew: I guess the other thing people do here is drop Soju into their beer.
Rick: Do people actually drop it in? Or just pour it in?
Andrew: I think you just pour it in.
Rick: So it's not like a frat house?
Andrew: Well, no. Not in that way. But bottle fight-style it is.
Rick: Have you seen an actual bottle fight?
Andrew: I have, in New York. It was at this place called Odessa in the East Village, which had, like, two-dollar whiskey. We were there and these skinhead dudes walked in, and I was like, "Those are skinheads, we should get out of here." And my friends were like, "You don't know. They're probably just hardcore kids. It's fine." An hour later they were wasted and broke a bottle over someone's head. And it was one of those things where I was so happy my Racist-Dar had actually kicked in correctly.
Rick: It's like racial profiling, but racist profiling.
Rick: Speaking about racist stuff, let's talk about your blog. How long have you been doing it?
Andrew: Three months now. I was just in my office, bored, and we were talking about Yosemite Sam for some crazy reason. You know when he gets really mad and he says cartoon swears? Well, one of those swears is "cotton-pickin." We were talking and just had this moment where we thought, holy cow, that's racist. You can't call someone "cotton-pickin."
Rick: I was listening to a live Sam Cooke album recently and he kept on throwing "cotton-pickin" in there.
Andrew: Yeah, and he's black so...
Rick: ... so, it's not like he can't do it, but...
Andrew: ... it still sounds weird today.
Rick: How many followers do you have now?
Andrew: 10,000. Almost 11,000.
Rick: It's really funny, too.
Andrew: Oh, thank you. The thing that's fortunate is I talk about racist things all the time, so it's really my sense of humor. I'm always noticing the racism in people.
Rick: How many hours a day do you spend working on it?
Andrew: I have it set up where I can actually answer from my phone, so I'll knock out a question while I'm waiting for coffee to pour, or instead of checking my email for the millionth time. I can knock them out pretty quickly. My first reaction is typically what I write.
Rick: Do you get hate mail?
Andrew: Oh, yeah. So much. A lot of people accuse me of being sexist. A lot try to call me racist, for one thing or another, which is fine, everyone's entitled to their opinion. I get a lot of mail from white separatists, because people think I'm black for some reason. And I get that there's politics that go with the blog. But at the end of the day, I'm just making jokes. It's not a conversation I'm having. People write in, say some dumb racist things, and I make fun of them.
Rick: How is this different from regular chicken wings?
Andrew: It's Korean fried chicken. It's not breaded, just fried straight-up. And the sauce is a sweet, garlic-y sauce. This is one of my favorite meals around.
Rick: The chicken's great. But what about the other food here? Is this, like a Buffalo Wild Wings or something, where the food is fine but it's still "bar food"?
Andrew: Not that bad. It's like a pub, this just happens to have more exotic fare. I think it's mostly a drinking place. The food is to facilitate drinking more.
Rick: What else is good?
Andrew: I really like the kimchi pancake. The seafood pancake is okay.
Rick: What does that entail?
Andrew: It has little-ass squid and things like that, kind of a rice-flour pancake, and typically it's orange because of the kimchi mixed it. It's like four crepes stacked together.
Andrew: There's some group of white people that just want to say the N-word so bad. They write in, "What about this situation? What about that situation?" There's so many times they ask permission to say it.
Rick: That's their little act of rebellion.
Andrew: I'm shocked at how big a deal it is for people.
Rick: There's an element too of people just wanted to be edgy. They're not necessarily racist, just trying to be tough.
Andrew: They want to say the N-word because it's a swear.
Rick: And it's being part of a club. It's like the thing separating me from my black friends.
Andrew: There is that desire, sure. But at the same time, seriously, don't say the N-word. I want that on the record.
DGM - DwitGolMok
3275 Wilshire Blvd., 213-382-8432
[Photos by Hagop Kalaidjian]
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