After years as a corporate chef at the Beverly Hilton, Roy Choi made his biggest stamp on the culinary scene with a simple taco. Well, not just any taco, but rather one filled with grilled marinated short ribs and spicy kimchi slaw--a Korean-Mexican, street-food hybrid served curbside. After the birth of Kogi, Choi can't be stopped.
The chef now casts the same broad flavorful strokes at his two brick-and-mortar restaurants: Chego in Palms, and A-Frame in Culver City (we can add Beechwood in Venice to the list, where he was just brought on to tweak the menu). Chego is a tight pop-in spot for loaded rice bowls; at A-Frame, it's a hipster picnic in a stylishly designed former IHOP.
Listening to Choi talk about his food philosophy is akin to hearing a hip-hop, skate-punk, surf-artist rap. "A-Frame was a mixed tape for me, a lazy-foot style of food," he says. "I wanted to create a restaurant where you can reach across the table, double dip, put something in someone else's mouth. Like dim sum...there's a certain energy. You just eat, share and have fun."
While the crispy beer-can chicken--one of the best birds in town--sticky, air-dried ribs, and Korean-inspired burger will probably always be on the menu, you'll see things like knuckle-and-oxtail stew, whole fried Dungeness crab, and seasonal salads make appearances.
The furikake kettle corn, another menu staple, is the perfect example of Choi's mix of bold yet familiar flavors--kettle corn, Corn Pops, dried pineapple, bacon, a little spice and garlic, plus Japanese seaweed seasoning. It's a wildly addictive snack that you'll devour in seconds.
"When I was in Hawaii, my friends told me 'this is how it's done on da islands,'" says Choi. "So I came home, and it became the cornerstone to the development of A-Frame, L.A.-style."
And it definitely adds soul to any party. Here's the recipe:
Furikake Kettle Corn
Recipe adapted from Roy Choi, A-Frame
Makes 4 servings
4 cups kettle corn
2/3 cup of corn pops
2 ounces clarified butter
2 tablespoon furikake
1 teaspoon red chili flake
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon dried pineapple
2 tablespoon chopped bacon
2 teaspoon minced chives or Shiso
In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients and mix well. Pour into a serving bowl or onto the table. "Lick your fingers and get dirty with some friends and strangers," adds Choi.