Tag Archives: food


Taste Test: Korean Ice Bars

To get through the long, hot days of summer ahead, you’ll need some cool treats. And some of the tastiest ones just happen to be sitting in the freezer section of your neighborhood Korean market.

But which package should you choose?

We’re here to help. A group of KoreAm staffers and friends took on the task of taste-testing 11 Korean ice bars. Our inner 7-year-olds rejoiced. (Our stomachs, however, did not.)

Here’s the verdict.


Assi Brand Coconut Bar
Ruth Kim, intern: I like it. It’s not too overwhelming. There’s a good balance of creaminess and coconut flavor.
Audrey Ryu, intern: You feel like you should be on a beach.
Julie Ha, editor-in-chief: Yeah, it tastes like a piña colada!


Assi Brand Red Bean Bar
Steve Han, staff writer: This is old people ice cream.
Michelle Woo, online editor: Good description.
Ruth: This is like authentic red bean. And there’s a good amount of it. It’s both icy and bean-y. [Laughs]

Haitai Nougat Vanilla Ice Cream Bar
Steve: Reeeeally chocolatey.
James Kim, staff writer: Like a poor man’s Dairy Queen dipped cone.
Michelle: It’s so creamy. I really like it. Hey, can I have the rest of that?

Binggrae BB-Big Red Bean Ice Bar
Ruth: It’s more artificial tasting than the Assi Red Bean Bar.
James: I like this one more. It has a good texture.

Haitai Fresh Melon Ice Bar
James: Very sweet. I really like it.
Ruth: It reminds me of childhood! So much nostalgia!
Michelle: You can’t not like this one.


Crunch bar

Lotte Samkang Crispy Crunch & Sweet Strawberry ”Dwaeji Bar” (pig bar) [Note: Check out this hilarious World Cup-themed TV commercial for the ice cream treat.]
Esther Kim, office manager: It tastes like strawberry shortcake … sort of.
Audrey: The proportion is disappointing. There’s not enough filling and the outside tastes soggy.
James: Yeah, not very crunchy at all.


Screw bar

Lotte Strawberry Screw Bar
Audrey: Very refreshing. Not too sweet.
James: It tastes like lemonade mix.
Michelle: Is it weird that I like to bite off the outer layer first?
Esther: ME, TOO!


Yogurt and Cider

Lotte Samkang Cider and Yogurt Flavored Ice Bar
Julie: Mmmm, it’s like there are frozen Nerds that pop in your mouth!
Esther: I love the crunch!
Ethel Navales, Audrey Magazine online editor: The description is completely misleading.



Haitai Babambar
James: The bread overpowers it.
Audrey: The flavors are very separate from each other.
Julie: There’s a slight mocha taste. It’s more like a very cold cake than an ice cream bar.



Samanco Binggrae
Audrey: The outer part takes like plastic, but the red bean complements the ice cream well.
Ethel: It’s fine for someone who’s not really adventurous. It’s very vanilla. But it’s really cute. I saw pictures of it on Tumblr—that’s the reason I wanted to try it.
James: There’s a perfect ratio between the outer cover, red bean and ice cream.
Julie (to James): You’ve had many of these?
James: Very many.
Julie: The outer shell tastes like an ice cream cone. There’s a good amount of vanilla ice cream inside and a thin layer of sweet red bean. I think it’s super yummy.



Lotte Jaws
Audrey: It’s refreshing. The colors are misleading because you expect blueberry, but it’s strawberry and orange.
Ruth: I like the crunchy exterior with a kind of softer interior, filling. It’s good. It has these little sharp teeth.
James: It leaves an artificial aftertaste. Tastes like frozen Crystal Light.




Pic of the Day: Kimchi Hot Dog

Summer’s nearly here, and that means barbecue season! That might also mean your standard fare of hot dogs and burgers, macaroni salad and other outdoor food staples. But if you’re thinking of trying something new, here’s one way to take your next hot dog to the next level.

This recipe for the Kimchi hot dog comes from online Korean cuisine master Emily Kim, who also goes by Maangchi, which means “hammer” in Korean. Aside from publishing actual cookbooks, you can check out the extensive number of videos on her YouTube channel. Be sure to note the special way she prepares the hot dogs.

Kimchi Hot Dog

Ingredients (for 4 hot dogs):

– 4 hot dog buns
– 4 hot dogs, scored
– 1/3 cup fermented kimchi, chopped
– 1/4 cup chopped onion
– 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
– a pinch of sugar
– lettuce leaves
– cheddar cheese
– mustard



1. Heat up a large grill or pan over medium high heat. Lower the heat to medium. Add the vegetable oil and cook the dogs until outside is crispy. Take out the dogs to a plate and set aside. Cook the buns, turning them with tongs until fluffy. Take the buns out and set aside.



2. Tilt the pan to collect the leftover oil and add kimchi. Stir-fry it for a few minutes. Add sugar and stir. Remove from the heat and add the chopped onion. Mix it well. The onion will be a little cooked from the heated kimchi.




Put some lettuce, cooked kimchi onion mixture, and a dog in each bun and top with mustard and cheddar.


Images via Maangchi.com


Inaugural K-town Night Market Draws Thousands

article and photos by RUTH KIM

Korean American comedian Walter Hong quipped, “We’re in Koreatown right now, but I feel like I’m a minority!”

Playing event emcee, Hong was addressing the vastly diverse crowd who made their way, by the thousands, to the inaugural K-town Night Market, which took place April 18-19 at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools campus in the heart of L.A. Koreatown.

Reminiscent of the popular 626 Night Market and night markets across Asia, the event featured a host of famous food trucks, food booths, merchandise vendors, a carnival area, as well as live performances.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Danny Park, one of the founders of the K-town Night Market. “We’re trying to bring that old night market to L.A., you know? We want to celebrate the diversity of Koreatown, but also celebrate Korean culture, too.”

Park certainly got what he wished for, with an estimated turnout of 80,000 people who attended the market over the two days.


The streets surrounding the Robert F. Kennedy campus were bustling with pedestrians on April 19, when this KoreAm reporter made her way there. A seemingly endless line from the entrance stretched along Catalina Street toward Wilshire Boulevard, as people queued up to enter the market grounds. Despite some complaints of long food lines, the wait did wonders working up the appetite, and there was plenty of food to go around. Headlined by Season 3 winners of the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, Seoul Sausage, the food truck lineup offered a diversity of cuisines and also featured seasons 1 and 2 Great Food Truck Race winners Grill ‘Em All and The Lime Truck, respectively.

“It’s been really fun for me to be kind of personally involved in this project because it hits close to home. We call Koreatown our second home,” said Yong Kim, one of the three founders of Seoul Sausage, which served as the event’s food truck curator. “It’s something that we planned a long time ago, and it’s finally happening. People are really excited about it, and we are, too.  Everybody that we wanted [for the food truck lineup] agreed to do it, you know, so it’s just been really fun, personally.”

While the food trucks were assembled on one half of the event grounds, the other half was occupied by additional food vendors in booths, including Korean American chef Brian Huskey of Top Chef fame at Table 13, IOTA Café, Orochon Ramen and 8 Korean BBQ, to name a few.  Attendees could grab a bite to eat while they shopped the vendor booths selling K-pop fan gear and other items, and enjoyed the live performances on stage.

Tagged on social media as #KTOWNCoachella, Friday’s lineup boasted the musical talents of K-pop stars such as YG Entertainment’s Lydia Paek, K-pop star Z. Hera, Chad Future, The Fu, and Shin-B. Saturday’s stage was headlined by K-town native and hip-hop artist Dumbfoundead, DJ Zo, Korean American rapper DANakaDAN and Grammy-nominated producer Scoop Deville.






First-ever K-town Night Market Features L.A. Food Trucks, Live Entertainment

Seoul Sausage Company, founded by (from left) Chris Oh and brothers Ted and Yong Kim, is serving as the official food truck curator for the inaugural K-town Night Market.


“Hi, my name is [insert your name here], and I’m a food truck addict.”

Admit it, we all get a little excited when one of these nomadic gastronomical mobiles parks itself around the corner and offers gourmet foods at a reasonable price. But what happens when the best of these trucks all gather together in a glorious, mouthwatering union?

The K-town Night Market is what happens. Taking place at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles this Friday and Saturday, April 18-19, this inaugural event will feature some of the best food truck fare this city has to offer, headlined by Seoul Sausage Company, the Season 3 winners of Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race.


“We’re trying to bring that old night market to L.A., you know?” said Danny Park, one of the founders of the K-town Night Market. “We want to celebrate the diversity of Koreatown, but also celebrate Korean culture, too.”

As the night market’s official food truck curator, Seoul Sausage, led by Korean Americans Chris Oh and Yong and Ted Kim, has lined up an impressive and eclectic list of food truck participants, including the seasons 1 and 2 winners of The Great Food Truck Race: Grill ’Em All and The Lime Truck, respectively. They will be joined by Jogasaki, Bowled and Beautiful, East L.A. Tacos, India Jones, White Rabbit Truck, Belly Bombz, Fluff Ice, Coolhaus and Carb&Nation. Food vendors Ramen Burger and Korean American Brian Huskey’s Table 13 (Huskey was featured on Bravo’s Top Chef) will also offer their culinary fare.

Appealing to more than just the sense of taste, the event organizers are also working together with Kollaboration and ElektroPR to present a variety of K-pop workshops and live music. Organizers said that the two-day event will be split to showcase more of the Korean performers on Friday, while Saturday’s stage will feature multicultural artists. The performance line-up includes Korean American rappers Parker (Dumbfoundead) and DANakadDAN, YouTube star Lydia Paek, hip-hop artist Scoop Deville and Detroit-born K-pop singer Chad Future, among others. There will also be merchandisevendors featuring L.A. clothing brands, art exhibits and a carnival area for guests of all ages.

Friday’s market begins at 4 p.m. and ends at midnight; Saturday’s market runs from 2 p.m. to midnight. For more information, visit ktownnightmarket.com or facebook.com/ktownnightmarket. The Robert F. Kennedy campus is located at 701 S. Catalina St., Los Angeles, CA 90005.



Monday’s Link Attack: SKorean Credit Card Breach; LPGA Pro Called Jenner’s ‘Mystery Woman’; Pyongyang Marathon Hosts Foreign Tourists

Hurst laughs off being called Jenner ‘mystery woman’
NBC Golf Channel

LPGA pro Vicky Hurst unwittingly became “the mystery woman” hugging Bruce Jenner when paparazzi captured them outside a Chipotle restaurant Friday in Malibu, Calif.

The story ran under this headline in the British Daily Mail’s online edition: “Bruce Jenner wears wedding band on right hand embracing mystery woman in Malibu.”

Jenner, the decathlon gold medalist in the ’76 Olympics, is married to Kris Jenner, previously Kris Kardashian, mother to the Kardashian siblings of reality TV fame. Celebrity news sites have been abuzz over the separation and now reports of a possible reconciliation of the couple.

Citigroup Says Client Data Leaked at Korean Consumer Credit Unit


Citigroup Inc. (C:US) and Industrial Bank of Korea (024110) said client information was leaked from their South Korean leasing and consumer credit units, the latest instances of data breaches at financial firms in the country.

Authorities found 17,000 instances of leaks of information including names and phone numbers, Citigroup Korea Inc. said in an e-mailed reply to Bloomberg News questionstoday. The company was informed of the breaches by the prosecutors’ office in February, it said. The same number of leaks occurred at Industrial Bank of Korea’s IBK Capital Corp., company official Shin Dong Min said by phone from Seoul, declining to elaborate.


N. Korea blasts reunification offer as ‘psychopath’s daydream’

North Korea on Saturday blasted South Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s proposal on laying the groundwork for reunification through economic exchanges and humanitarian aid as the “daydream of a psychopath”.

The blistering attack from the North’s powerful National Defence Commission (NDC) was the first official reaction from Pyongyang to a proposal Park made in a speech last month in Dresden in the former East Germany.


North Korea Marathon Opens Pyongyang Streets to Foreign Tourists

NBC News

Pyongyang was filled with runners from all over the world on Sunday for the annual marathon, open to foreign amateurs for the first time.

Nancy Q: Wie finds way to make odd putting stroke work
The Tennessean

The putting stroke is the one skill that can take on a totally different look from one player to the next. That has never been more evident then when watching the putting style of LPGA Tour player Michelle Wie.

Two years ago I witnessed Wie putting at the Navistar Classic. I was very surprised at how “bent over” she was in her setup. So was every other golf instructor and golf critic in the country! In an interview that week, I heard her say she was the one who decided on that putting style, not David Leadbetter, her teacher of many years.

Learning in reverse brought Kogi chef Roy Choi to the top
LA Times

All roads lead back to the Kogi truck.
“It’s like my ‘Sweet Caroline’ and I’m Neil Diamond,” Roy Choi said. “I’ll never be able to outlive Kogi. Kogi is a beast.”
The chef was attempting to articulate what spawning that marvel of Korean barbecued ribs enveloped in tortillas has meant to him in front of a crowd at the 19th-annual L.A. Times Festival of Books. The sprawling two-day event at USC features readings, screenings, musical performances and cooking demonstrations.

The kimchi revolution: How Korean-American chefs are changing food culture

In a recent interview with food writer Michael Ruhlman, celebrity travel/food writer Anthony Bourdain said that “when you look at all the people who are sort of driving American cuisine right now, they’re all Korean American.” By “all,” he mostly meant “both,” since his list boiled down to two: David Chang and Roy Choi.

Roy Choi is best known as the L.A. Korean taco truck guy, and David Chang is the founder of the Momofuku restaurant group as well as the cult food publication “Lucky Peach.” Bourdain probably intended to mention Edward Lee in this interview as well, insofar as he’d praised Lee’s cookbook, “Smoke and Pickles,” by calling him one of “America’s most important young chefs.”

World Bank’s Kim urges SA to cut red tape around investment
Business Day

WORLD Bank president Jim Yong Kim says countries such as India, South Africa and others in Africa with massive infrastructure programmes should limit red tape to make it easier for investors to bring in the billions of dollars such large projects require.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings on Thursday.

The South African government plans to invest more than R800bn over the next three years on energy, road, rail, school and municipal infrastructure and has called on the private sector to participate. It has identified infrastructure development as one of the areas that can create jobs and provide skills for millions of unemployed people.

Out of the blue

FORAGING in South Korea’s mountains may soon become more fruitful. Since a wild ginseng digger reported the wreckage of a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on April 3rd, the South’s ministry of defence has been ruminating on rewards for anyone who spots an enemy drone. The report followed the discovery of two other similar aircraft: on March 24th in Paju, a border city; and on March 31st on Baengnyeong island, near the disputed Northern Limit Line which demarcates the two Koreas’ maritime border. North Korean inscriptions on the planes’ batteries; an ongoing military investigation into their engines, fuel tanks and weight; and the sequence of the photographs found stored in one of the plane’s cameras suggest the drones were sent from North Korea. For others, their sky-blue camouflage paintwork, identical to that on larger drones paraded in the capital Pyongyang two years ago, was a giveaway.



Thursday’s Link Attack: SKorea Detains NKorean Boat; Korea-Japan Relations; BigBang Reaches Milestone

Merkel vows support for Korean reunification bid
AFP via Google News

Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged Germany’s support Wednesday during a visit by South Korea’s president for efforts to unify the Korean peninsular, saying its own reunification gave it a “duty” to help others.

“We would like very much to support Korea in this important issue,” Merkel told a joint press conference with President Park Geun Hye, who is on a state visit to Germany.

“Germany was divided for 40 years, Korea is in such a situation in the meantime” as the 1950-53 Korean War concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, which means the two sides technically remain at war.


South Korea captures a North Korean fishing boat

A day after North Korea test-fired two missiles, South Korea captured a fishing boat from the North that had crossed into South Korean waters, officials say.

The boat crossed the sea demarcation line that separates the two Koreas and was captured by the South Korean navy Thursday, the South Korean Ministry of Defense said.

The action comes as tensions between the two Koreas are rising once again. On Wednesday, North Korea tested two medium-range ballistic missiles, firing them into the ocean.

N Korea and the myth of starvation

One of the most commonly cited cliches is that North Korea is a “destitute, starving country”. Once upon a time, such a description was all too sadly correct: In the late 1990s, North Korea suffered a major famine that, according to the most recent research, led to between 500,000 and 600,000 deaths. However, starvation has long since ceased to be a fact of life in North Korea.

Admittedly, until quite recently, many major news outlets worldwide ran stories every autumn that cited international aid agencies saying that the country was on the brink of a massive famine once again. These perennially predicted famines never transpired, but the stories continued to be released at regular intervals, nonetheless.

In the last year or two, though, such predictions have disappeared. This year, North Korea enjoyed an exceptionally good harvest, which for the first time in more than two decades will be sufficient to feed the country’s entire population. Indeed, according to the recent documents of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations), North Korea’s harvest totaled 5.03 million tonnes of grain this year, if converted to the cereal equivalent. To put things in perspective, in the famine years of the late 1990s, the average annual harvest was estimated (by the same FAO) to be below the 3 million tonne level.

Associated Press

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s distinctive hairstyle is the ‘do of the day on the Internet, thanks to a viral report that every male university student in the capital is now under orders to get a buzz just like it. But it appears the barbers of Pyongyang aren’t exactly sharpening their scissors.

Recent visitors to the country say they’ve seen no evidence of any mass haircutting. North Korea watchers smell another imaginative but uncorroborated rumor.

The thinly sourced reports say an order went out a few weeks ago for university students to buzz cut the sides of their heads just like Kim. Washington, D.C.-based Radio Free Asia cited unnamed sources as saying an unwritten directive from somewhere within the ruling Workers’ Party went out early this month, causing consternation among students who didn’t think the new ‘do would suit them.

Video shows N. Korea karaoke salons
Bangkok Post (Thailand)

Rare video footage from North Korea has emerged showing men enjoying a night out in a karaoke salon catering to relatively wealthy North Koreans making money from often illicit cross-border trade.

The content of the hidden-camera footage, which could not be independently verified, was released by a South Korean pastor, Kim Sung-Eun, known for helping North Koreans escape to Seoul.

The grainy video included footage of a group of men and women, speaking with North Korean accents, drinking beer, singing, dancing and kissing in a South Korean-style karaoke “room salon”.

“This is a North Korean equivalent of a room salon, in the form of a restaurant combined with a karaoke where women serve male clients,” Kim told reporters in Seoul.


Breaking the Ice in East Asia [EDITORIAL]
New York Times

President Park Geun-hye of South Korea and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan met, at last, on Tuesday. The meeting — with President Obama on the sideline at the nuclear security summit meeting at The Hague — was the result of intense behind-the-scenes American diplomacy in an effort to mend the seriously deteriorated relations between the American allies in East Asia.

Ms. Park and Mr. Abe had not met since each came to power more than a year ago, breaking a tradition of South Korean and Japanese leaders getting together soon after taking office. Ms. Park refused to see Mr. Abe, saying his government showed a “total absence of sincerity” in addressing the suffering Japan inflicted upon colonized Korea during the first half of the 20th century. Mr. Abe made things worse in December by visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including war criminals. There was little chance of the two leaders beginning to mend relations without the American push.


Seoul, Tokyo Must Tackle Their Differences Head-On [OPINION]
Chosun Ilbo

The leaders of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan sat down together on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague. The meeting, which took place at the U.S. Embassy in the Netherlands, came at the urging of U.S. President Barack Obama.

The three leaders vowed to stand together against threats from North Korea. “Over the last five years, close cooperation between the three countries succeeded in changing the game with North Korea,” Obama said. “Our trilateral cooperation has sent a strong signal to Pyongyang that its provocations and threats will be met with a unified response.”

President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe duly echoed the sentiment.

Korean business leader and shopping center owner Sim dies
Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama)

Sys-Con owner and CEO Su Yong Sim, the Korean businessman who helped revitalize East Boulevard, died Thursday morning after a prolonged illness.

Sim’s company built several major facilities, including the $65 million Hyundai Heavy Industries plant in Montgomery and a $48 million plant for Donghee America Inc. in Auburn.

His holding company bought Stratford Square shopping center on East Boulevard and built a $4.5 million bowling center there. It also bought the shuttered Up the Creek restaurant nearby, remodeled it and opened it as Sushi Yama.

Food waste around the world
The Guardian (U.K.)

South Korea
Jeong Ho-jin dons a pair of plastic gloves to show off his most proud achievement as a district official in Seoul, and then uses his keys to unlock a large, rectangular contraption that looks like some kind of futuristic top-loading washing machine. Loaded with bins half-filled with decomposing ginseng, lettuce and other meal remnants, this, it turns out, is South Korea’s high-tech solution to food waste.

Jeong works in one of two districts in Seoul where the high-tech food waste managementprogram is being piloted. The program works by giving each household a card that has a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip embedded in it containing the user’s name and address. They scan their card on a small card-reader on the front of the high-tech bin to get the lid to open, then dump the food waste into the bin and onto the scale at the bottom, which gives a numerical reading of the waste’s weight and disposal cost.

“Before this everyone paid the same flat rate [for disposal] and they would just throw their food waste away without thinking,” said Jeong.

Korean community centre seeks younger crowd
Vancouver Courier (Canada)

Vancouver’s only Korean community centre has undergone a facelift and will officially reopen its doors April 1.The centre, which is located at 1320 East Hastings St. and has housed the Korean Society of B.C. for Fraternity and Culture since 1991, received a grant from the federal government in April 2013 and began renovations the next month. The grant, from the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, provided $226,602 toward the project and the Korean Society and Korean Senior Society matched it with support from the Korean government and member donations. Vancouver boasts the highest Korean population in the country at over 50,000 people.

BigBang’s ‘Fantastic Baby’ tops 100 mln YouTube views
Yonhap News

South Korean boy band BigBang saw the video of its 2012 hit song “Fantastic Baby” surpass 100 million views on YouTube Thursday.

The video, which was first uploaded in March 2012, had slightly more than 100 million views as of about 2 p.m., making it the forth South Korean video to hit the milestone, following Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and “Gentleman.”

BigBang became the first K-pop boy band to do so.


Korean Journalist Seeks To Find Out If Beanballs Hurt

One Korean journalist for KBS worked on a feature on baseball players being hit by pitches, and did some firsthand reporting to find out if it hurts to be hit by a baseball. It does!

The whole video report—which isn’t embeddable—is worth watching, and you don’t need to understand Korean to figure it out: Pitches to the head, whether intentional or not, are causing injuries in baseball. The best part is definitely the high-speed camera footage of baseballs hitting a wash basin and frying pan, set to music that sounds like the Halloween theme.

POT by Roy Choi, a Soulful Ode to Korean Cuisine
Eater LA

As promised, POT is a powerful ode to Korean cuisine by one of the most notable Korean-American chefs in the country. Roy Choi opened POT inside The Line Hotel to the public for lunch yesterday, introducing dishes that seem whimsical and inventive on paper, yet incredibly grounded, flavorful, and intense to a fault on the plate. Think “Boot Knocker” stew, Choi’s take on a dish that Korean mothers make after school’s. Filled with Lil’ smokies, Spam, ramen noodles, and more than a few dollops of red chili flakes, it’s about as rich as the cuisine can get, without getting too serious.

The gently wrapped Kat Man Doo dumplings come dressed in soy, chilies, and scallions for maximum effect, while chewy squid gets tossed with rice cakes, onions, and gochujang. In almost all steps, Choi is taking the cuisine of his motherland and putting an elegant, chefly touch that elevates and refines flavors.

Probably the Worst Diary of Anne Frank Cover Ever

Usually, covers of The Diary of Anne Frank feature black and white photos of its author, Anne Frank. Or, you might see tasteful illustrations. You don’t usually see photos like this!

As recently pointed out by Korean-born Twitter user Che_SYoung, a version of this book was apparently released in South Korea years ago by an unscrupulous publisher:

It looks like a Harlequin romance novel! For the past few years, the image of this cover has been floating around online (as I mentioned, it is supposedly real!), and it even pops up when you Google Image search The Diary of Anne Frank in Korean:

Bojagi workshop offered at LACMA
Korea Times LA

[Korean-born textile artist Lee Young-min] currently holds bojagi workshops and leads a community bojagi project at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The program will take place on April 12, May 3 and June 7. The reservations of the workshops for April 12 have been already filled.

“Many parents with their children are taking part in the workshops. They are all beginners and not skilled but they return home with satisfaction of their completion of bojagi artworks,” she said.

She has organized numerous workshops, classes and demonstrations on Korean arts and crafts around the Bay Area. Recently she demonstrated her bojagi and “maedeup” or Korean knots in Asian Art Museum in San Francisco as part of the Asia Alive Program. Lee also participated in Oakland Museum’s Lunar New Year celebration with her bojagi and maedeup artworks.



March Issue: Cali Flavor at The Wallace

Photo by Kimberly Genevieve.

Family Style

A husband-and-wife duo partner with her restaurateur brother to offer their take on farm-to-table California cuisine.


Diverse cultures and mountains of fresh, local produce shape California’s rich and much-envied food scene. And that’s the very image Michael and Carol Teich are looking to spread with The Wallace, their new culinary venture that is receiving much early acclaim. Located in the heart of the trendy downtown district of Culver City, The Wallace joins a growing list of Southern California restaurants that support sustainable and local food.

“The Wallace’s menu is ‘Californian’ because we emphasize local products,” Michael told KoreAm Journal. “To me, California has such diversity when it comes to food. So many immigrants have come here and brought their cuisine with them. All those [cuisines] influenced me growing up here, and they find their way into my food.”


His wife is one of those immigrants.  As a teenager, Carol immigrated to Los Angeles from Brazil with her family. She met Michael in the kitchen at a Ritz-Carlton restaurant, where Michael was already a sous chef.

“He wasn’t even one of the executive chefs; he was one of the younger sous chefs,” recalled Carol. “I was so scared. But whenever you had a question or needed help, he was the most helpful and most willing to teach you. He was always really good at that.”

Fast forward eight years, and they are now married with a 4-year-old son and, of course, their culinary offspring. The Teichs operate as a one-two punch, with Carol operating the front of the house as general manager, while Michael works in the kitchen and oversees the menu. Carol’s older brother, Marcelo Ahn, who ran the restaurant that preceded The Wallace at the Culver City location, deals with the finances as CEO, effectively making The Wallace a family business.


“I think anyone that works in this industry always has the dream of doing their own thing,” said Michael, who spent four years as a minor league pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.“I was lucky enough to have a brother-in-law who already had a location, which happened to be in Culver City. I thought there was a great opportunity to do something here that I didn’t see anyone else really doing.”

It is a vision that Carol’s brother is excited to be a part of. The emphasis on fresh produce reminds him of his childhood home.

“There’s no need to use any canned products [in Brazil],” said Ahn.  “Produce, fruits, anything you want, it’s available anywhere. In the U.S., it’s a bit different. You have to go to the farmers’ market. All these American chain restaurants, you can tell right away the products they use have a ton of preservatives. But when you eat food here, you feel good about yourself.”

photos by KARLEE RICKS

Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores can all enjoy the variety of shareable plates. Chef Michael’s menu follows the seasons to take advantage of the local available produce, while the meats are also acquired from local sources, and the seafood has all been designated safe and sustainable by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“I feel strongly it’s just the right thing to do and the way everyone, not just chefs, should live their lives,” Michael said. “It’s about respecting the environment and supporting the people who are doing things the right way.”

The best ingredients make the best food, and Michael makes sure to highlight each one. His meticulous nature (Ahn calls his brother-in-law a perfectionist) shines through in the presentation of every dish, from brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert.

On the dinner menu, a few starters include the smoked trout, made with cucumber, radish, celery, yogurt and almonds, and the roasted butternut squash, which is prepared with curried yogurt, quinoa, cranberry and pumpkin seeds. The entrees are just as extensive: The customer-favorite grilled cauliflower, prepared with creamy parmesan almond bread crumb and rosemary, and the Portuguese-style salted cod fritters, which are personal favorites of Carol and Marcelo.


Koreans in particular will be intrigued by the bindaetteok-inspired shrimp and chickpea pancake, which substitutes the traditional nokdu, or mung bean, with chickpeas and adds harissa aioli for a nice kick. The short rib ravioli will also definitely bust a few taste buds in a delightful fusion of Korean barbecue and house-made pasta.

To top it all off, beverage director Holly Zack oversees the assortment of very pretty and delicious cocktails and locally brewed beer on tap, while Carol, who also happens to be a certified sommelier, takes care of the wine list.

Diners have three choices of where to sit, from the bar and the large communal tables for some impromptu socializing, to the dining tables in the back where the open kitchen is in full view. During the day, the large windows and skylights offer plenty of natural lighting and reveal the original artwork lining the walls, while at night, the old-fashioned light bulbs provide a warm, intimate glow.

The name of the restaurant is inspired by a long-running inside joke involving Mel Gibson, apparently the most famous patron to visit Ahn’s previous restaurant. After an extensive and frustrating search for a name, the family decided to let it come naturally. One liquor-induced night, the men started talking about William Wallace, the Scottish freedom fighter portrayed in the 1995 movie Braveheart, and then The Wallace was born. Now, a few months in from their grand opening, Michael, Carol and Marcelo are enjoying seeing the family business become a fixture in the community.

“[This] is the environment we wanted to create—everyone is welcome, it’s not pretentious,” said Carol. “It is a family.”


This article was published in the March 2014 issue of KoreAmSubscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the March issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).


Chef Roy Choi Brings an Oasis to the ‘Food Desert’ of South Central LA

Kogi chef Roy Choi partners with the South Central Los Angeles community and Dole Food Company in a fruitful venture for all.

photo by NARITH TA

A half-hour before the grand opening of 3 Worlds Café in South Central Los Angeles, Roy Choi circles the staff like a hawk, making sure the kitchen is running at full capacity.

“Stay at your stations, all right? Don’t ever leave your station,” he instructs. “This is you, right here. You rely as a team on everyone else to do their job.”

Choi’s voice rings over the excited murmurs of the early customers and members of the community trickling in, as the 3 Worlds crew, as dubbed by Choi, prepares for the café’s July 6 grand opening. Despite the game face, the chef of Kogi truck fame can’t help but show his excitement.

“This is a joyous day,” he declares. “It’s a very, extremely happy, joyous day.”


For the co-founder and culinary mind behind the renowned Korean taco-serving food truck and variousrestaurants all over Los Angeles, 3 Worlds Café appears, at least on the surface, to be Choi’s latest business venture. But, different from his other restaurants, 3 Worlds Café is a collaboration between Choi, Dole Food Company, the local nonprofit Coalition for Responsible Community Development and Jefferson High School. The café presents a menu headlined by smoothies, fruit cups and coffee drinks.

Its location in the inner city is significant, as the inner city is often dubbed a food desert because of the dearth of supermarkets and healthy food options.

The first inklings of the idea to open 3 Worlds came after Dole approached the chef about three years ago, expressing interest in working together.

“At that time, my head was in a place where I was looking for celebrity or sponsorship, but what happened was that I thought, ‘What if we take that money and we do something in the neighborhood, instead of me standing and crossing my arms in a bossy photo?’” Choi said. “‘Why don’t we take whatever money we were gonna spend in those ad dollars and do something great?’”

Choi began working with Jefferson High to build an “Economics 101” program, a specialized course for 10 to 12 juniors and seniors, following a lesson plan that includes running a business, taking inventoryand—most importantly, Choi says—serving fruit in a delicious way.

“As I was going through it, [I] was also thinking about the divide that we have between the monikers of eating healthy and what’s really going down in the neighborhoods,” said Choi. “People need to eat healthy and the youth need to eat healthy, but two things: One, we’re not giving them access to a lot of foods that are out there. And secondly, if I’m a 17-year-old student and an adult tells me to eat healthy, I’m like, ‘F-ck you. None of this sh-t you say to me is interesting. Why should I listen to you?’”

That was a lesson the 3 Worlds team learned early on, when the project began as a fruit cart at Jefferson High three years ago. Dole provided the fruit, Choi provided his culinary guidance, and the high school provided a small, dedicated workforce.

F-CB-0813-2Cafe-KidsRoy Choi with three of the original members of the 3 Worlds crew from Jefferson High School. 

Luis Pahena was a senior two years ago when he was accepted to become a part of the inaugural 3 Worlds crew, and recalled that students at the time weren’t so willing to venture outside of the options they already had available, that is, mostly fast food.

“A lot of people didn’t like [this kind] of food over at Jefferson,” Pahena said. “You don’t really see many places like this in [South] L.A.”

Still, Pahena added that the communities that make up South Central already have a deeply embedded fruit culture, an oft-overlooked fact. “You have a lot of Hispanics, they like mangoes and [other] fruits,” he said.

It was just a matter of making such healthy food options appealing to this high school crowd. So, after some menu modifications and lowering prices, the 3 Worlds fruit cart began to catch on with students.

“My angle was to stop using the word ‘healthy’ and just make it ‘delicious,’” said Choi, describing his strategy. “Let’s make it fun. Let’s put some flavor and some energy behind it, and let’s let the kids design it. Let them make the concept as if they were talking to each other.”

The behind-the-scenes of the 3 Worlds cart at Jefferson High reflected exactly that. Students were able to pitch and bounce ideas off of Choi, who would then offer his feedback or provide resources. From there, students would go out and spread their ideas and products to their friends and community. The program enjoyed success for two years, and while Choi was contemplating its long-term future, leaders from the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, approached him. They told him they had a vacant café location on Central Avenue. That sparked the idea to take the 3 Worlds brand and move it into that spot as a business.


Roy Choi shares a toast with several members of the community and business partners. 

And the rest, as they say, is history—or rather, the present and, hopefully, well into the future, say its supporters.

“It’s almost too good to be true, but it’s possible, and it’s possible to replicate this,” L.A. City Councilman Curren Price said, in remarks at the 3 Worlds grand opening. “I’m excited about the fact that this is the first one, but not the only one, right, partners? Right, community? We’re gonna see these all over.”

One only needs to step inside 3 Worlds Café and look around to see that it is driven by and catered to the people who live and congregate around Central Avenue, a longtime business center for South Los Angeles. Customers can enjoy a signature Mango Bomb smoothie or an intriguingly-named Boba Fett fruit cup, while enjoying the student-designed murals.


As with his Kogi franchise, the community aspect of this project brings an added significance for Choi.

“They’re my family,” he said of the neighborhood. “I spent every day of my life in this neighborhood for the last three years. There’s no master plan, no ulterior motive—they’re just good people in my life right now, and I’m a part of their lives. I know where I’m at right now, I know there’s some celebrity and some momentum in my life as a chef, but I never forget that I have to wipe my ass and put my shoes on and go out into the world.”

As with his other restaurants, Choi makes sure the kitchen runs as smoothly as possible, demanding the staff always give their best.

“I’m busting these guys’ asses,” he said, matter-of-factly. “Our only goal right now is to serve the best possible drinks, best possible smoothies. … For me that part is the same, not minimizing or overcompensating any training or sympathy for anybody because of where we’re at or what hasn’t been here. What’s the same is the attitude of just excellence, doing your best, hospitality and belief, and knowing that this place is going to be a success.”


Chefs, he said, should follow his example and not be discouraged by preconceptions of the inner city and its apparent lack of food culture. That’s an issue that will never be solved, as long as chefs refuse toinvest in the inner city.

“[The] bottom line is, chefs aren’t opening restaurants in South Central L.A., in South L.A.,” he said. “There are a lot of liquor stores. Those are just facts. For me, it’s about why do we have to accept those facts? The people that I hang out with here, they’re not stereotypes or caricatures that you can just put in a form. They’re living, breathing human beings that eat food just like you. So why not open the same things you would open in any other neighborhood, instead of just saying, ‘Oh, these are food deserts, and they’ll never happen.’ Why won’t they happen? How the f-ck do you know it won’t happen? How the f-ck do you know people won’t love them?

“It’s really about taking a chance,” he continued. “Five years ago, people were calling food trucks roach coaches. People were pointing at food trucks and saying, ‘I would never eat off that thing.’ Now, the same person who said, ‘I would not eat off that food truck’ is hiring it for their 9-year-old kid’s birthday party.”

3 Worlds Café is a dream that has “no boundaries,” Choi said. “The big dream is that this will be a success, and that the team will be able to support their lives and families and have a wonderful job and have a great paycheck,” he said. “The community will have a place where they can hang out. It can naturally grow and have an energy. From there, they will find their own way to become entrepreneurs and grow this business. This is not my business. It’s theirs.

“The next step is to grow it organically, find their entrepreneurial spirit, which will in turn influence others, and then maybe other investors come in and see this, and say you know what, ‘This can be replicated in Baltimore, the South side of Chicago, the Bronx, all these areas.’ … This is a start of something really, really awesome.”

This article was published in the August 2013 issue of KoreAmSubscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the August issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).