Chego Means the Best

3 Apr

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Let’s get this out of the way: Chego is my favorite thing to eat in LA right now.

If you haven’t already dismissed me as a fraud, let me elaborate. I’ve eaten a lot of bibimbap in my life, most of it at home. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I’ve eaten a couple hundred BBBs that were all roughly the same: white rice, bulgogi, sautéed spinach, bean sprouts, red chile paste, and of course the fried egg. Delicious. I went to Korea a few years ago and had probably half a dozen BBBs in a week, from probably the best I’ve ever had (in Daejeon) to one of the worst I’ve had (in the airport). But almost all of them were decorated with the same set of crayons.

Chego is a huge departure. It’s still a BBB at heart – rice, egg, protein, sautéed veggies. But the things Roy Choi will do to riff on the classic!

The Sour Cream Henhouse uses an inflected sour cream to provide an unexpected kick to a grilled chicken bowl. Dairy and Korean food seems a strange mix, but somehow Roy pulls it off. I also like the mix of veg I this one – Thai basil, Chinese broccoli, and a couple other things I can’t remember. When it’s done right the egg is fried but still pretty loose, which is great for mixing it up.

At it’s best, Roy’s food is a great mix of Korean, Mexican, and American influences, with some southeast Asian thrown in. That’s what I love about the chicken bowl. My mom would not recognize it as Korean, but all the elements of a BBB are there.

The One Chubby Belly pork bowl has a more recognizable Korean flavor profile. That’s because Roy grills the pork belly with gochujang, the red chile paste that is the usual sauce for a BBB. That alone would make it a winner. But again the mix with the runny egg and the Chinese broccoli is great. Roy even has another beautiful trick here – a turnip kimchee whose acidity and crunch are a perfect accompaniment.

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This is a shot of the kimchee platter featuring that turnip kimchee. It also has fennel kimchee and marinated garlic cloves. For $4 it’s a steal.

I’ll maybe write another time about the desserts, which I think are a secret killer app for Roy’s restaurants. The appetizers are all pretty interesting, and some, like the 3pm Meatballs and the Ooey Gooey Fries, are addictive. But I warn you: the bowls are huge. Most people probably won’t finish their own bowl (although I do, but only because I’m a huge fat guy).

Oh and one insider’s tip: no liquor license but you can bring in booze from the liquor store next door. In fact, they have a secret deal in which you can take your chego receipt to the liquor store while you’re waiting for your food and get a very small discount.

That’s all for now. I could go on about Chego, but I’ll probably return to yap about it again. And if you wind up not liking it, it’s probably you.

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