When celebrity chef Roy Choi refers to "Los Vegas" on social media, it's no typo. As he preps his Las Vegas restaurant, La La Noodle, for a fall opening, the king of fusion cuisine is promising to infuse the city with the energy and culture of L.A. with what he calls a "bridged idea."
"Working on some fun things for Vegaz," Choi posted on Instagram in June, beneath mouthwatering photos of work-in-progress La La Noodle dishes. "Gonna be a place where I pay homage but also remix parts of what I love about L.A."
The pictured dishes include shaking beef lomo saltado, a fried bologna sandwich and Korean spicy octopus done "tapas style" -- tantalizing teases of what's expected to be a fine-dining Choi experience at Park MGM. Vegas executive chef Bill Chan, formerly of Moongate at the Mirage and MGM Grand's Grand Wok & Sushi Bar, will oversee La La Noodle's pan-Asian menu.
Born in South Korea and raised in L.A. and Orange County, Choi began as a journeyman hotel chef before co-founding Kogi -- and helping to jump-start the enduring food truck phenomenon -- in 2008. Initially just a single truck (now four), Kogi fused Choi's Korean heritage (his parents once owned a Korean restaurant in Anaheim and his mother's kimchi was local legend) with the Mexican flavors he savored while living in L.A.'s diverse neighborhoods.
Kogi exploded onto the food scene with signature cross-cultural creations like the Korean Short Rib Taco, offering imaginative, high-end cuisine at strictly street-level prices. The first food truck operator to make Food and Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs" list, Choi went on to run an array of L.A. eateries, including Chego!, A-Frame and Locol.
An estimated $2.26 million has poured into construction for the 4,876-square-foot La La Noodle as part of the $450-million Park MGM transformation of the former Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, which includes the boutique NoMad Las Vegas hotel-within-a-hotel on its upper floors. All indications are that Choi's latest culinary expression will be an upscale affair, including a full wine and sake program.
Choi's been soaking up Sin City of late, and he's stated an intention to fly in from L.A. at least monthly to ensure La La Noodle retains his personal stamp. "Been out here trying to feel the vibe," he posted from the Strip in April. "I want the place to feel like both cities. Low key to over the top in one."