Roy Choi’s Pot: Expect double-dipping, 10 types of hot pot and a late March opening
Roy Choi’s hot pot restaurant Pot is expected to open in Koreatown’s Line Hotel by the end of March, and by serving communal Korean stews, or jjigae, the chef who describes himself as “American with Korean blood” hopes to accomplish this: to break the taboo of double dipping.
The impulse isn’t unfamiliar to Choi. “With the [Kogi] truck a lot of popular society wasn’t eating off trucks,” he says. “And at A-Frame I believed in putting people together in an environment where they didn’t know anyone and the music was loud and the bass was kicking and you’re eating with your fingers and you’d sit with strangers.
“This is kind of the third act – double dipping. It’s a huge social taboo in America, it’s almost like you can be ostracized from doing that. But I come from a culture where that’s how we eat. Something is delicious enough and we’re sharing together the bacteria and taboo of double dipping -- our natural tendency is to share and eat.”
Choi signed on to the hotel project more than two years ago, and immediately started planning a Korean hot pot restaurant. “I always loved hot pots, always wanted to cook Korean food,” says Choi, “just never thought I could. Sometimes you don’t know when you get that confidence boost ... and there’s a crystallized moment where you cross over that valley where you get that confidence. A lifetime’s worth of always doubting myself, and then just walking in the space and knowing, ‘This is your time, man. Do a Korean restaurant.’”
During construction delays he wrote a menu that now lists about 10 hot pots with names such as Boot Knocker, his version of budae jjigae (literally, “Army base stew”) with tofu, instant ramen, canned meats (Vienna sausage, Spam, corned beef hash, spicy pork sausage), rice cakes, scallions, chili paste, herbs, pork and seafood broth. A hot pot of intestines, tripe and blood is called the Inside Story. And a seafood one is named Fisherman’s Wharf.
Each table is equipped with induction burners to keep the hot pots hot. “The main thing is I want it to feel like every other Korean restaurant in K-town,” Choi says. “You sit down, get a menu and at most hot pot places it’s served family style.” Hot pots will be available in various sizes: small for two to four people, medium for three to five and a “papa bear” for four to six. Individual pots also will be available. And free house panchan will grace the table. Other appetizers you can buy, along with Korean barbecue and noodle dishes.
Also on the menu are spicy rice cakes in the style of Shingdangdong (the Seoul neighborhood famous for its dddeokbokki) and hence called Dang, Son. A pork-kimchi-tofu plate includes caramelized kimchi and steamed pork and tofu with anchovy-soy dipping sauce, called Steam Room. Choi’s version of raw soy-marinated blue crab, or gejong, called Slurp Me -- because that’s the way you eat it.
Choi says Pot’s hoped-for opening is the third or fourth week of March, following the planned mid-month opening of Pot Café, a version of a Korean bakery helmed by Momofuku Milk Bar alumna Marian Mar, with a pastry case of red bean buns, cream buns, French bread pizzas and treats such as a black sesame mochi butter bar.
Pot at the Line Hotel, 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 368-3030, www.thelinehotel.com.
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