Photos: Roy Choi's Pot Restaurant Is Now Serving Asian Comfort Food For Lunch
Chef Roy Choi is having a busy and fruitful year. On the heels of opening two restaurants at The Line hotel in Koreatown, filming a new TV show on CNN, and working on Jon Favreau's Chef film, he still somehow has time to keep expanding his empire. His Korean-inspired Pot eatery at The Line is now serving new comfort food dishes on the menu.
Pot, which opened in March, had only been serving lunch inside the restaurant, but now it's being served in the hotel lobby. Choi told LAist when it opened that he wanted Pot to have authentic Korean food, but also be inspired by his own Western and European influences in cooking (think hot pot soups with bulgolgi, steamed dumplings, and crudo with pears and crunchy rice).
LAist stopped by Pot yesterday for a tasting of the lunch menu and found that though some of the new dishes have Korean influences (like a new Stoned Bibimbap rice dish to Dumpling Hot Pot and Kimchi Ramen), Choi's expanded his Pot menu to have homey and casual Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine that have Korean flavors into the mix—you know, Choi's signature fusion style.
His Ohm Rice is a spin on the traditional Korean and Japanese dish. A thin omelet is wrapped around a flavorful and spicy ketchup fried rice. The rice's texture is chewy and slightly crispy—almost like it came from a hot stone bibimbap. We enjoyed the simplicity of this Ohm Rice, the mouth-numbing kick it gave, and the fact that it was paired with Choi's refreshing side Kush Salad—a combination of Asian greens, radishes and Asian pears.
Another star item at Pot was the Pork Belly Sandwich that comes with seasoned fries. While we've had our fill of pork belly tacos as of late, a Korean-style pork belly sandwich is something else. The succulent and tender pork with its crispy outer edges was sandwiched between two soft hamburger buns, that were grilled on the insides to provide a nice crunch. And of course, this one had a spicy kick as well with its kimichi flavors.
And keeping with the theme of casual lunch items, there's another sandwich was in Choi's repertoire—this time a Spam Banh Mi. While sometimes we feel like the roofs of our mouths are getting cut-up by some traditional toasty banh mi sandwiches, this French bread roll was slightly crunchy on the outside but soft and pillow-y on the inside. This one had some of the things you'd normally find in a Vietnamese sandwich, like the pickled carrots, spread of mayo and slices of peppers; however, Spam isn't a normal meat filling we'd normally find in one of these. We kind of love that Choi has embraced Spam (including in his Boot Knocker hot pot at the restaurant), though this one felt a bit salty for the sandwich since it tasted like there some soy sauce added to it (in the same vein as a Spam musubi). However, if you are a Spam lover, you might be okay with that because if anything, bold flavors is something that brings people back to his restaurants.
We've been frequenting Choi's Chego restaurant in Chinatown quite a bit we're addicts of his Chubby Pork Belly Bowl), so seeing hints of his bowl styles in Pot's Chicken Katsu Rice Bowl felt familiar. This bowl doesn't have as strong of flavors as his Korean and Latin combos at Chego and it was surprisingly much simpler. The chicken katsu cutlets are crispy and breaded with panko crumbs, and sit on a bed of rice that's swimming in a basic curry sauce. But what gives it Choi's touch is the poached egg on top that you mix into the rice, to get an extra creaminess to the sauce, and the chopped-up veggies, green onions and kimchi surrounding it. This one wasn't reinventing the wheel, but we're kind of suckers for presentation and this one boasted it.
When LAist asked Choi how he came up with these new dishes, he said: "We smoked pot. Then we imagined. Then we smoked pot and cooked. Then we ate. And it was so good."
Pot is open for lunch in the lobby from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner in the restaurant from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. They don't take reservations. Lunch items range from $9 to $15 an entree. The restaurant is located at The Line hotel at 3515 Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown, (213) 368-3030