Tag Archives: koreatown

The RushOrder team

Online Food Delivery App Taps into L.A.’s Koreatown

by SUEVON LEE

Ordering delivery from a slew of neighborhood restaurants, all from the convenience of your smartphone or mobile device, has never been easier thanks to apps like Seamless, Eat24 and other brands.

The latest product to join the online food delivery space is RushOrder, a Los Angeles-based start-up that aims not only to minimize wait times for things like the check or a latte for the busy person on the go, but also to bring small mom-and-pop-type establishments in Los Angeles’ Koreatown into the online delivery fold.

This pairing of Korean restaurant options with the technological ease of ordering menu items online (let alone discovering such a place exists within several miles of your location) is one thing the team behind RushOrder believes separates it from its competitors.

“We’re familiar with these places and the people who go there, so we’re able to bring these restaurants into our system,” said Eric Kim, RushOrder’s chief operating officer. “We’re providing access to users and customers who haven’t had access to these restaurants before. A customer can now order from restaurants that serve Korean blood sausages.”

RushOrder originally was conceived as a way to eliminate inefficiencies of the dine-in experience, such as waiting for a server to take an order or bring the check. The product has since undergone several “pivots,” as the team members put it, by focusing on partnering with restaurants and capitalizing on the growing popularity of L.A.’s Koreatown.

RushOrder launched in February. Though it aims to serve cities all over the country, it’s concentrated in L.A. for now.

Available on Android Google Play and Apple iOS for the iPhone and iPad, the RushOrder app hopes to fill a large gap in the online food delivery space.

“The thing we want to emphasize is Koreatown and how those restaurants are not really on these online platforms,” Kim said. “We want to introduce this older generation of Koreans who own these businesses to technology.”

“On the tech side,” he added, “a lot of online ordering companies haven’t been able to access this market because the people who run it aren’t familiar with this space and the language barriers.”

Kim, a 30-year-old former Wall Street consultant who grew up in Koreatown, credits popular chefs like the Kogi Truck’s Roy Choi and culinary television personality Anthony Bourdain for helping put Koreatown on the map as a food destination, thus making it a prime source of savory dining options for the online delivery crowd.

RushOrder will soon be offering delivery and takeout from nearly 300 restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area, including lesser-known places like Nak Won House, Wako Donkasu, Myung In Dumplings and Jang Teo Bossam, in addition to pizza joints and delicatessen staples.

“The mobile ordering payment space is pretty competitive,” Kim acknowledged. “There are lots of companies like us running around. The challenge isn’t getting the restaurants on board. The important metric is, how fast are they growing orders and users, and are they bringing in business?”

So among the plethora of online delivery platforms that seem to be expanding by the day, is there really room for another product?

“Yes,” says Kim. “Delivery is becoming a much greater part of peoples’ lives. Everyone is so busy these days. People spend less time going out to eat and more time working and keeping themselves busy.”

“Even in a place like L.A.,” he said, “the need for delivery is growing rapidly.” Plus, Kim adds, “The Koreatown community is becoming much more popular in Los Angeles.”

Photo Courtesy of RushOrder

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Far East Movement Releases K-Town Mini-Doc Ahead of New EP

by JAMES S. KIM

Far East Movement has been touring all over the world and the United States in recent years, but they’re bringing their music back home to Koreatown, Los Angeles for their upcoming EP.

In anticipation for K-Town Riot, which drops next Tuesday, Oct. 28, Far East Movement premiered the first part of a mini-documentary series exploring the 1992 L.A. riots through L.A. Weekly. It features a number of first-hand accounts from individuals who were in Koreatown during the riots, including Paul PK Kim and Roy Choi.

“When we were on tour, we honestly just felt like we were losing touch with where we grew up, with the community that really shined us a light when we didn’t have any opportunities,” Nish said in an interview with the L.A. Weekly. “After two years of touring, we came home and saw how much it had changed. … So we were like, why don’t we try to do something about it?”

With K-Town Riots, Nish said the group brings a “harder sound,” influenced by the gangster rap songs from the era. He mentioned that the group had around 30 songs recorded, but after a good amount of deliberation, they managed to select six songs. “We felt like these six best represented the vibes for K-Town Riot,” he explained.

The documentary had to be stripped down as well, from nearly five hours of footage in order to keep things “tight, concise, to the point.” Part two of the mini-documentary will feature a more light-hearted look at the growth of Koreatown, Nish said, and that should be out in a few weeks.

You can check out Part One of the five-minute mini-doc below. Be sure to read the full interview with Kevin Nish at L.A. Weekly here.

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KAC-LA’s Sponsored Post: Who Killed Koreatown?

Who Killed Koreatown?

The redistricting lawsuit by five Koreatown residents against the City of Los Angeles picks up and heads to trial.

The fight against the gross injustice committed in the last redistricting process that split the Koreatown district of Los Angeles in half will head to trial this fall. As a community with high poverty levels and limited English proficiency, Koreatown residents desperately need a political representative to voice their concerns. Yet, two years ago, the city completely ignored the public on redistricting and manipulated district lines behind closed doors, splitting Koreatown into two districts and depriving residents of any chance for representation. Today, Koreatown still lacks community centers, parks and other basic necessities. This led five Koreatown residents to file a lawsuit against the city, with the trial taking place this fall.

Over the years, Koreatown has grown from a quiet ethnic enclave into a booming cultural mecca. Koreatown began as a small cluster of Korean immigrants in the 1950s. It is now home to approximately 100,000 people. As a community, Koreatown, composed of different ethnicities living in one of the densest neighborhoods in the United States, has experienced both successes and shortfalls.

In 2012, the city’s redistricting commission voted to split Koreatown across two separate districts, despite thousands of residents advocating to keep Koreatown in one district throughout the hearing process. Instead of drawing district lines based on population changes and communities of interest, the commission manipulated district boundaries to influence future council elections.

This illegal act of gerrymandering deprived the residents of Koreatown of being able to elect their own representatives who would be able to address the special needs of the community.

Important Dates:
• Tuesday, September 9: Motion for Summary Judgment
• Tuesday, October 14: Trial Start Date

The Korean American Coalition is raising funds for expert fees and deposition costs to help the Koreatown plaintiffs win the lawsuit. To learn more, please go to www.whokilledkoreatown.com to learn more about the redistricting lawsuit and how you can help.

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This post was sponsored by KAC-LA, which is part of KoreAm’s Community Network, a section reserved for local and national nonprofit organizations. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of KoreAm.

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KAC-LOS ANGELES (KAC-LA)
Korean American
Coalition-Los Angeles

“Educating, Organizing and Empowering”
Founded in 1983, KAC’s mission is to advocate the civic, civil rights, leadership, legislative and political
interests of the Korean American community. KAC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization. Annual membership dues are $50 for regular members and $25 for students and senior citizens. Other sponsorships are also available.

KAC-LOS ANGELES OFFICE
3540 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 911
Los Angeles, CA 90010
t: (213) 365-5999
f: (213) 380-7990
www.kacla.org
info@kacla.org

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Helen Kim
Chair
Susie Oh

Vice President of Administration
Justin Kim

Vice President of Marketing
Patrick Kim

Vice President of Programs
Jaime Lee
Secretary
Janny Kim
Treasurer
Michael Bai
Ricky Seung

HONORARY BOARD
Yong Hwan Kim
Dr. David Lee

ADVISORY BOARD
Joe Ahn
Judy Chang
Peter Jung
Alexander C. Kim
CJ Kim
Jeanine Kim
Jenee Kim
Andrew Lee
James Lee
Suzan Lee Paek
Jeanne Min
Jong Hwan Park
Lucy Park
Shinnae Sung
Dr. Gilbert Whang
Dr. Michael Whang
Bernard Yoo

KAC STAFF
Grace Yoo
Chris Lee
Andy Yoo
Samantha Lee

Block Party

We’re Giving Away Free Tickets To The K-Town Night Market & OC Block Party

We weren’t the only ones to have a blast at the first K-Town Night Market in April. Lots of people did. So many, in fact, that organizers are doing another one—this time, down in Orange County. On Aug. 22 and 23, Korean/Asian food vendors and trucks (Seoul Sausage!), entertainers (David Choi! Jason Yang! B-Boys!) and thousands of attendees will gather at Angel Stadium for two nights of belly-filling revelry. While we’re a little sad the event isn’t actually in Koreatown this time, the venue is a major upgrade in terms of parking and breathing room.

KoreAm has partnered with the folks at K-Town Night Market & OC Block Party to give away free passes to the first 250 readers who use the promo code “koream” on the event’s ticket page. One ticket per person, per email. Can’t wait to see you there!

More info about the event can be found on its Facebook page.

A video from the last K-Town Night Market:

And some photos from last time to make you hungry:

Ramen-Burger
takoyaki
koreanbbq

Photos via K-Town Night Market & OC Block Park

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Sisters Open Korean-Style Study Room in Manhattan

by RUTH KIM

Anyone who’s ever needed a place to study for several hours at a time and been frustrated by the noise at coffee shops or libraries with lax security and no food or drinks allowed may find NY Study Room in Manhattan quite the sweet spot.

The website Ozy and NBC News recently featured the business, which also goes by the name NY Dokseosil, started by sisters YoungJin and Obi Lee, who were accustomed to the plethora of study rooms available in their native South Korea.

When YoungJin first came to the U.S. several years ago, she was always searching for a quiet, safe place to study, but couldn’t find anything close to the dedicated study spaces she enjoyed in Korea.

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YoungJin and Obi Lee, left to right. (Photo via NBC News)

So, she and Obi decided to bring a convention from their mother country to their adopted homeland. They rented out a space on the fifth floor of a building in Manhattan’s Koreatown and began transforming it. The resulting NY Dokseosil, which opened in October of 2013, boasts plenty of individual desk spaces and meeting rooms with special, comfortable chairs that allow students to pore over their textbooks or laptops for hours without putting strain on their backs, according to Ozy.

The study room has attracted a steady flow of patrons, mostly by word of mouth, and it’s no wonder when you find out about the hourly rate. At $3 an hour, or $10 for six hours, you can study at your own pace. The majority of customers are adults studying for CPA exams or citizenship tests, and according to Ozy, one customer just passed the bar exam. Like a delighted mother, Obi told Ozy, “We’re so proud of him.”

And that’s kind of what these two ladies are to their patrons: mother figures who provide a homey spot to study with free cups of coffee. And it’s not all work; with board games, a dance studio and beds at the ready, there’s also the opportunity for some post-studying playtime—or naptime. In addition, the space offers meet-ups and can quickly transform into a cultural hub where Koreans, who make up a majority of the patrons, as well as non-Koreans can socialize and engage in a type of informal cultural exchange.

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“They want a sing-a-long and watch drama together. They know a lot about Korea, but they want to know more,” Obi told NBC News, of the non-Korean patrons.

The cafe also tries to play a helpful role to Koreans who are new to the city, as evident on the NY Dokseosil’s website, which provides information, mainly in Korean, about colleges, language centers and other useful links for the newcomers.

The study room is generally open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., with extended hours available in some cases, and according to the NBC News article, can now also be rented out for gallery showings and business events.

Photos via NBC News.

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Korean Fitness Trainers Take Home Top Prizes At Muscle Beach Competition

by HAEIN JUNG

Look at dem washboard abz. 

Over two hundred strapping bodies entered the 15th annual Mr. & Mrs. Muscle Beach competition, and when the smoke cleared, two Korean trainers were among the winners as they took home  the top prizes.

Joon Ko and Jung-Seok Kim, both fitness trainers at Fitness M, a premier gym located in L.A.’s Koreatown, took first Place in Men’s Physique Tall Class category and second place in the Men’s Physique Short Class, 5’7 and under division, respectively.

“I’m so grateful I overcame the hardships that came from preparing for the competition,” Ko told the Korea Daily. “I thank those at Fitness M who helped me overcome them.”

Kim added: “As Korean Americans, being able to compete in a sport that aren’t dominated by Asians is an incredible opportunity for myself and for the Korean community.”

Aside from their glossy silver and gold medals, their resumes are quite impressive as well. Kim has a fifth degree black belt in taekwondo while Koh is a Red Cross lifeguard and certified First Aid instructor.

Mr. & Mrs. Muscle Beach started in 1999 by Joe Wheatley, a long time producer of bodybuilding shows, and has been held every year in Venice Beach.

Image via Korea Times

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Link Attack: Kim Jong-un Upset at Weather Guys; Korean Spa In Dallas; SKorean Prime Minister Nominee, Take Two

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un gets angry at the weather guys
Washington Post

Another week, another bit of absurdity from the world’s most isolated state. A report in the Rodong Sinmun, a state-run newspaper, shows North Korea’s porky despot giving “field guidance” to the national hydro-meteorological service. Although it’s written in awkward communist jargon, the report makes clear that Kim Jong Un was not pleased.

He said that there are many incorrect forecasts as the meteorological observation has not been put on a modern and scientific basis…

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North Korea Threatens ‘Plot-Breeding’ U.N. Rights Office With ‘Punishment’
Reuters

North Korea on Monday threatened a planned U.N. field office in South Korea set up to investigate human rights abuses in the isolated country, saying anyone involved would be “ruthlessly punished”. The United Nations in March called for the field office to monitor human rights in North Korea following the release of a 372-page U.N. Commission of Inquiry report that detailed wide-ranging abuses, including systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.

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Get a Big Dose of Korean Culture While You Relax and Avoid the Heat at King Waterpark
Dallas Observer

If you haven’t been to King Spa & Sauna, you’re missing out on one of the most unique cultural experiences in Dallas. Called jjimjilbangs in Korea, these sometimes gender-segregated, sometimes co-ed bath houses offer an opportunity to detoxify (whatever that means) in ornately decorated saunas, eat Korean food, have a massage, sleep, maybe even sing a little karaoke while you’re there.

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Kim Young-sam to get doctorate from Russia
Korea Joongang Daily

Former President Kim Young-sam, who played a key role in building ties with the former Soviet Union, is slated to be awarded an honorary doctorate from the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences today.

The degree comes 25 years after Kim’s pioneering visit to the Soviet Union, the first for a South Korean political figure, which helped pave the way for bilateral ties between Seoul and Moscow.

The Shipment, The Pit, Barbican, London – Review
Financial Times

The playwright Young Jean Lee habitually sets out to challenge herself and her audience. With The Shipment, which begins as a stylistically diverse mix of discrete scenes and routines before changing gear into drama, she, a Korean-American artist, sets out to make a theatre piece about African-American identity and experience, and dares us to… what exactly? To move past the aggressive accusations of racism in the opening spoken segment, a mock-stand-up comedy sequence that leads into a first-half “minstrel show”? To consider seriously the glib final twist in the more or less naturalistic drama that takes up the latter half of the performance? To be disconcerted out of our preconceptions?

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Park Nominates Former Journalist as New South Korean Premier
Bloomberg

South Korean President Park Geun Hye nominated a former journalist as prime minister to lead a government shakeup prompted by public anger over the Sewol ferry sinking. Moon Chang Keuk, who worked at JoongAng Ilbo newspaper and teaches journalism at Seoul National University, was picked to replace Prime Minister Chung Hong Won, presidential spokesman Min Kyung Wook said today at a televised briefing. Chung offered his resignation to assume responsibility for the April 16 sinking that left about 300 people dead or missing, most of them high school students on a field trip.

Can fans unravel the Babel of the world’s TV dramas?

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CNN

A Korean TV show about an alien who arrived on Earth 400 years ago and falls in love with a modern actress becomes one of the top series watched in Hebrew and Arabic. A Thai drama about a sharp-tongued woman who ends up being the maid of a Hong Kong mafia member strikes a chord with Spanish speakers.

Viki, a site where dramas, telenovelas, comedies and movies from the globe are translated by fans, gives a glimpse into the cross section of the world’s entertainment interests. It’s where its 22 million monthly users find TV shows that have never made it on their local television sets.

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Night Market Comes to Monterey Park
LA Weekly

The city of Monterey Park has approved the first long-term city-sponsored night market in the Southland. KCM Agency, the Korean-American event production and marketing force behind Kollaboration and K-town Night Market has signed an agreement to host six-hour long public nighttime soiree at Barnes Park every third Friday of the month.

In conjunction with Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce, KCM also plans to operate the first ever public beer and wine garden in Monterey Park, with three percent of its profits going to the Monterey Park American Legion Post.

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The Line Hotel And Why It’s Cool To Be Korean In Los Angeles

Follow the Line

Out of all the places to open a hip new L.A. hotel, why would one choose Koreatown? Because it’s apparently “cool” now to be Korean.

by JIMMY LEE
Photos by ADRIAN GAUT

What would you do if you were a hotshot real estate developer, with a reputation for producing stylish boutique hotels frequented by today’s class of cool kids, looking to build your first property in Los Angeles proper? Well, if you’re Andrew Zobler, the man behind the Ace Hotels in New York and Palm Springs, you would turn to hotshot chef Roy Choi, the culinary mind behind the Kogi food trucks and a growing empire of restaurants throughout the city.

It’s just that Choi basically told him this: not interested. “It felt like a real job again,” said Choi. “That’s the truth. It had everything to do with the fact that, ever since Kogi happened, Kogi bought me freedom. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do in life, and that’s a very rare thing to have. And once you have it, I felt like this project would be giving that freedom back.”

Zobler, of course, persisted, and now Choi is running not just one restaurant but two, named Pot and Commissary (the latter will begin serving a fruit and vegetable-focused menu later this year), as well as a bakery and a bar in the lobby of the Line Hotel, which recently opened on Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Koreatown. It just made Condé Nast Traveler’s 2014 Hot List of the 33 best new hotels in the world for essentially oozing style and bringing in “some of L.A.’s coolest and most innovative minds, including street food king Chef Roy Choi,” said the write-up.

Choi is not the only talent that Zobler has tapped to make the Line a destination not just for travelers but also for Los Angeles locals. The Houston Brothers, noted nightlife impresarios with bars and lounges mostly in Hollywood, will operate a club/lounge called Speek. And retail outlet Poketo, co-founded by Korean American Angie Myung and her husband Ted Vadakan, opened their second store in the hotel. With these collaborators on board, Zobler has in line (bad pun intended) multiple pieces to attract even more people, including the cool and hip, into Koreatown.

But the Line is not the only hipster game in K-town. In fact, on the very same block is the Normandie Hotel, another recently renovated boutique establishment, which has its own coolness credentials: a soon-to-open bar from Cedd Moses, who’s a central figure in turning Downtown L.A. into a teeming nightlife destination, with spots like the Golden Gopher and Broadway Bar.

So get ready, Koreatown, for an invasion of skinny jeans.

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It’ s a stark contrast to
nadir: the fires and looting of the 1992 L.A. riots. There was little consideration paid to the concerns of Korean Americans at that time. Back then, there was a sense that Koreatown was under siege, with Korean Americans forced to barricade themselves from what felt like relentless attacks not only from looters but also politicians and the media. Those memories have not faded, including for those involved with the Line.

Jonnie and Mark Houston, twins from a German-Irish father and a Thai-Chinese mother, grew up living in Koreatown. In fact, Jonnie’ s best friend at the time was a Korean American whose parents’ liquor store was destroyed in the riots. Poketo’ s Angie Myung, who’ s from the L.A. suburb of Diamond Bar and was in high school in 1992, remembered going to Koreatown after the riots and seeing all the burnt stores. “It felt like an apocalypse that happened,” said Myung. Despite all that they lost, many Korean American business owners chose not to abandon the neighborhood, but to rebuild. And Koreatown today, which has also seen an infusion of investment from South Korea, is not only bigger but still expanding and thriving, most notably for its restaurants and a nightlife that runs well past last call and into the early morning. There’s one other noted difference from the days before the riots: Koreatown is more welcoming to non-Koreans. Some restaurants today still have menus only in Hangeul, but their numbers appear to be in the decline.

“[The riots] brought some positive changes. The Korean immigrants that owned businesses there saw that they couldn’t survive on their own island,” said Myung. “They realized they had to open up. And not only that, but it was actually very profitable and successful for them the more they opened.”

“If you weren’t Korean, they wouldn’t let you in. It was very closed off to non-Koreans,” said Jonnie Houston. “When you walk up to a door and you don’t speak Korean, they’re like get away. A lot of that has changed. It’s a lot more friendly to everybody now.”

The Houstons also noted that Koreans have been innovative when it comes to operating dance clubs. “Korean culture has brought to the table bottle service and the little bells that you press for service,” said Mark Houston, referring to how non-Korean clubs have adopted these practices. 
 These Koreatown factors, and the availability of what was most recently called the Wilshire Radisson Hotel, a mid-century modern design from architecture firm Daniel Johnson Mann & Mendenhall built in 1964, is how the Line came to be. “We loved the vibrancy of the neighborhood and the architecture of the building,” said Zobler in an email interview, as to why he chose Koreatown, and not, say, Venice or Hollywood, areas that might better fit the sensibility of his past developments. (Zobler’ s company, the New York-based Sydell Group, was not involved with the new Ace Hotel that recently opened in Downtown.)

“Koreatown is a very special L.A.- only place,” said Zobler. “We love what is coming out of this community and out of Korea culturally, and the food—we love the food. We also love that the neighborhood is geographically in the center of many of the things we love most about L.A.—Hollywood, Downtown, Beverly Hills, Silver Lake—and that it sits right on a Metro [subway] stop.”

The zeal for Koreatown and Koreans that Zobler has expressed is not isolated. For lack of a better phrase, it’s kind of cool to be Korean right now. Tune into a TV cooking competition these days and a Korean American is bound to be one of the culinary contestants. Anthony Bourdain recently spoke the praises of KA chefs, and his CNN travel show’s premiere episode focused not on Los Angeles but specifically Koreatown.

“I totally feel like I’m much cooler being Korean now than ever,” said Myung, whose first Poketo store in L.A.’s Arts District does more than sell products. It hosts art shows and workshops, including a kimchi-making class taught by her mom—activities that she anticipates will also be offered at the Line’s outlet. “I think it has a lot to do with Korean pop culture, that’s taking over the whole world. It’s definitely come to the U.S. Come on, ‘Gangnam Style?’”

Myung, 39, cites her generation’s members, as well as the next, who have chosen more creative fields. “[We] have made a lot of strides,” said Myung. “Koreans are just more visible now.”

At the center of the team assembled by Zobler is Choi, arguably the most high-profile Korean American chef today. “We wanted, as a paramount matter in our design and choice of collaborators, to celebrate the local community and urban L.A. in general. We brought in Roy Choi and the Houston Brothers who were raised in the neighborhood to be our guides,” said Zobler.

The contribution that the Houston Brothers, who shop at their nearby HK Korean supermarket and have frequented Koreatown bars, are bringing to the Line will reflect the surrounding neighborhood that they know well. Speek will be a club that includes a dance floor, live music and that other local nightlife staple: the noraebang. “We definitely wanted it to be a homage to Koreatown and what they’ve created, and embrace it and put our little twist on it,” said Jonnie. Plus, the cocktail program will feature Korean flavors: think Korean pears and even barbecue.

For Choi, who will be cooking some pretty straight-up Korean food for the first time with the restaurant Pot, there’s a lot to think about. “It’s a huge project, with a lot of employees, a lot of responsibility, a lot of money invested,” said Choi. “I am nervous about serving Korean food in Koreatown. But it’s not a nervous of failure; it’s a nervous of, like, I really want people to enjoy it. I want the Korean and Koreatown residents to really know that we’re honest—all our food, once you’ve taste it, tastes like any other Korean [food].”

But, with Choi involved, there’s bound to be something out of the ordinary, and he pointed out the composition of his staff. “That no one cooking in the kitchen is Korean, except me. And I was never trained in Korean food—that’s pretty unique, wouldn’t you say?”

It’s also a sign of Koreatown evolving with more complex and dynamic interpersonal relationships at play—it’s not just ajummas in the kitchens ordering around the many Latinos often employed in the neighborhood’s restaurants. There’s a diverse staff at Pot, and they just look like ajummas. One of Choi’ s cheeky decisions is for the hostess to wear clothes an ajumma would wear: think baggy pants and mismatched prints.

On a more serious note, Choi credited the team he works with for convincing him to finally say yes to Zobler. “And once they talked me into it, … I realized there’s something special and important that we can do here,” said Choi. “I can be somewhat of a bridge … to the neighborhood, and to all the people who live here, and everything we’ve gone through. It’s almost like I saw it as, if you think about the first Koreans who came here and where we are now. This can be a little marker in that, like a gift back.”

L.A. chef Roy Choi is a partner in the Line venture, with two restaurants in the hotel.