Tag Archives: Roy Choi

Patterson Choi

Roy Choi’s Fast Food Restaurant to Open in San Francisco Next Year

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

Not many individuals can create a fast food chain from the ground up, but not everyone is Roy Choi.

After announcing his latest venture with Chef Daniel Patterson back in the summer, Choi made the official announcement yesterday that the first location of the chain, called loco’l, will be in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Locals can expect the restaurant to open by late spring/early summer.

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Choi and Patterson unveiled their plans for the fast food chain back in August at the MAD3 symposium. Patterson said that they planned to start a business that could grow quickly to “supplant the fast-food chains and convenience stores that separate our youth from the taste of real food.”

“I envisioned a new kind of fast-food restaurant that served real food in a nice environment, and which could contribute to the neighborhood around it in myriad ways,” he added. “My answer lay to the south, in Los Angeles, where Roy Choi was bringing people together from all over the city around Kogi—food trucks that served tasty, hard-to-categorize food.”

For Roy Choi, loco’l is his latest project in offering affordable and healthy options–a rare “food oasis–to neighborhoods that are considered “food deserts.” Last year, Choi opened 3 Worlds Cafe in South Central Los Angeles, an idea that originated from a fruit cart project Choi was running at the local Jefferson High School.

“Price point, culture, design, hospitality, relevance and most of all flavor,” Choi said to Inside Scoop SF in August. “We will be using all our sciences and knowledge and sixth sense as restaurateurs/chefs to create a concept people love and a menu they crave, but keep it all in the pocket, keep it all affordable and delicious, and speak to what the people want.”

The location was seemingly the perfect fit for the restaurant, which is part of an overall community project. The intersection of Taylor Street and Turk, where loco’l will open, will be seeing was identified as one of nine “action zones” by the Tenderloin Health Improvement Partnership (TLHIP) with the goal of rebuilding and revamping the neighborhood. Future locations for loco’l include other inner-city “food deserts,” including Oakland, Pleasanton and Watts in L.A.

Loco’l plans to offer a menu with options like tofu-and-grain-heavy burgers, veggie bowls, falafel, rice bowls, and other items in the $2-6 range, according to Eater SF. The restaurant will also feature a “multi-use commissary kitchen” for cooking classes hosted by Patterson and The Cooking Project, a San Francisco nonprofit.

As the Bay Area gets its first taste of Roy Choi, Southern California can’t get enough of him. Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Swingers) and Choi announced back in September that they were trying to open a restaurant in Los Angeles featuring some of the cuisine from Chef, a film that chronicled their road trip. Along with the Kogi truck, Choi’s current list of restaurants in Los Angeles includes 3 Worlds Cafe, Chego!, Sunny Spot, A-Frame and POT at the Line Hotel in Koreatown.

Don’t forget, Choi also has his own reality show on CNN coming up sometime in 2015, too.

Feature image via Grub Street

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Chef Corey Lee’s Benu Receives Three Michelin Stars

by JAMES S. KIM

San Francisco’s reputation for excellent cuisine soared as two more of its restaurants were awarded three stars by the 2015 Michelin Guide to Bay Area restaurants, which was released earlier today.

As of yesterday, Chef Corey Lee’s Benu and Joshua Skenes’ Saison joined Bay Area’s restaurants the French Laundry and the Restaurant at Meadowood in the esteemed three-star category.

Michelin’s international director told Mercury News what set Benu and Saison apart were a “dazzling and distinctive fusion of local ingredients, Asian inspiration and Northern Californian gastronomic sensibility.”

Lee opened Benu in August 2010 and was given two stars by Michelin in October 2011. KoreAm had the opportunity to talk to him then about the food he serves, as well as his journey to becoming one of the most well-known chefs in San Francsico. You can read the article here from the November 2011 issue of KoreAm.

Expect to hear a lot more about Lee and Skenes and their cuisine in the coming months. Lee, a French Laundry alum, opened Monsieur Benjamin, a 90-seat bistro, over the summer, and he is putting together a cookbook. Skenes also has one on the way, and he plans to open a hand-pulled noodle restaurant with Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman in 2015.

Mercury News also noted the rise of Asian-inspired restaurants on the Michelin list. Along with Benu and Saison, sushi restaurants Kusakabe and Maruya joined the one-star roster. Seven out of the 13 newcomers to the 2015 Michelin Bib Gourmand honors, which is bestowed on excellent restaurants where two courses and a glass of wine costs $40 or less, were Chinese, Japanese or Asian-inspired. You can find the full list of the 2015 restaurants here.

According to SF Gate, it’s the first time in history that San Francisco proper has had a three-star Michelin restaurant, let alone two. The French Laundry and the Restaurant at Meadowood are both in Napa Valley.

If you’re looking to make a reservation at the newly-christened Benu or Saison, do it quickly and expect to pay a good amount. Saison was already among the most expensive restaurants in America, and Benu could understandably raise their prices.

The West Coast now boasts four Michelin three-star restaurants, although unfortunately for Southern Californians, they’re all in the Bay Area. Chef Roy Choi is quick to defend the Southland, however.

The 2015 Michelin dining guide for San Francisco, one of just three U.S. regions to have its own guide, goes on sale today. The Michelin Guide discontinued its Los Angeles version two years ago.

Photo by Vivien Kim Thorp

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Roy Choi to Launch Healthy, Affordable Fast Food Chain

by JAMES S. KIM

Is there anything this man isn’t doing?

In his latest culinary venture, chef Roy Choi is partnering up with San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson to launch a new chain of fast food restaurants called Loco’l. The chefs made the announcement on Monday at MAD4, the fourth annual Copenhagen conference for chefs, cooks and farmers.

“We want to go toe to toe with fast food chains and offer the community a choice,” Choi told Inside Scoop SF.

“Price point, culture, design, hospitality, relevance and most of all flavor. We will be using all our sciences and knowledge and sixth sense as restaurateurs/chefs to create a concept people love and a menu they crave, but keep it all in the pocket, keep it all affordable and delicious, and speak to what the people want.”

All items on the menu will range from $2-$6 in order to compete with places like McDonald’s and Burger King. The recipes will be prepared by Patterson, who owns the Coi in San Francisco and has appeared on PBS’s Mind of a Chef. According to LA Eater, dishes will include burgers made with a beef and tofu mixture, salads, rice bowls, and “cross-cultural” items like falafel and tacos–the latter of which Choi knows a thing or two about.

For the lucky NorCal folk, Choi and Patterson plan to open the first Loco’l branch in San Francisco in spring 2015, and Los Angeles will get its own a few months later.

“High-level chefs have an opportunity to do much more than just cook for the few people who can afford it,” Patterson said in a blog post on the MAD website. “We can create real change, in this case, by building a better business. As much as thoughtful articles and speeches and books are important in shifting how we think, they are not going to solve the food problems we have in our country.

“If we can open profitable restaurants that are inexpensive and serve delicious food made with real ingredients; if we bring new options to places that currently lack quality food; if we cook with heart; if we create an environment of warmth, generosity and caring; if we value the people with less money just as much as the ones with plenty, we can make a difference.”

At last year’s MAD conference, Choi emphasized social responsibility among chefs to bring delicious, healthy food to people in need. And as busy as he’s been, especially with the recently opened Commissary restaurant at the Line Hotel in Koreatown, where he also has Pot, Pot Cafe and Pot Bar, the chef appears to be doing his part to carry out that vision.

Last year, Choi opened the 3 Worlds Cafe in South Central Los Angeles, which is often referred to as a food desert because of the lack of healthy food options available in the area. With its fresh juices, smoothies and coffee the goal was to bring healthy, delicious options to a place where chefs and restaurants normally kept away from, as well as provide a place for local youth to frequent.

Choi said Loco’l was the beginning of a “ripple movement,” and like the inspiration for its name, it’s going to be crazy.

“Loco–we are crazy to do this and you’re crazy to believe it,” he said. “Local–it’s about the community and everyone, not just the ones that can afford it. Loco’l.”

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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.

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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

Bloomberg

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.

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

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.

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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
Salon

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
Economist

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.

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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.

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South Korea captures a North Korean fishing boat
CNN.com

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
Aljazeera

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.

MANDATORY KIM JONG UN HAIRCUTS A BALDFACED LIE?
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.

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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.

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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.

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Korean Journalist Seeks To Find Out If Beanballs Hurt
Deadspin

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
Kotaku

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.

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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.

by JAMES S. KIM
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.

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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.”

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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).




Tuesday's Link Attack: Roy Choi, 2NE1, Samsung

Street Food Guru Roy Choi on Sunny Spot, Food Trucks, Kogi & More
The Daily Beast

Food-truck godfather Roy Choi, the man behind the craze that’s swept the country, tells Jace Lacob about his new Caribbean roadside eatery Sunny Spot—and how embracing street food and putting aside our Western concepts of dining can save society.

2NE1 performs for 2,000 fans at New York’s Times Square
allkpop

2NE1 has stolen the hearts of 2,000 American fans with their live performance at Times Square in New York. The girls were recently deemed as the ‘2011 Best New Band in the World‘, and so to celebrate, they held a concert at the MTV studio downtown.

Broadcast and streamed to fans worldwide, 2NE1 was ecstatically welcomed by thousands of New York fans.

LAPD probes racist graffiti at Korean church fire scene
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles police Monday night were investigating racist scrawls left with a marker and baby powder at a Korean church where a small fire broke out earlier in the day.

Officers initially responded to a possible burglary call at the Valley Korean Central Presbyterian Church in North Hills and found a toaster oven on fire in one of the buildings on the property, a law enforcement source told The Times.

Racial epithets were scrawled with a marker pen on the walls and written with baby powder on the floor of the building, according to the source, who asked not to be named because the investigation is ongoing.

Party Crasher! Hyundai is headed upmarket
Los Angeles Times

But now Korean automaker Hyundai seems set to crash the luxury party. Hyundai’s first full-size luxury sedan, the Genesis, was released stateside in 2008. The company followed up with the overtly opulent and even larger Equus model two years later. Even Hyundai’s corporate cousin, Kia (Hyundai has part-owned Kia since 1998) is getting in on the act. Kia’s unveiling of its Maserati-esque GT Concept coupe at last month’s L.A. Auto Show is a fairly obvious signal that it, too, harbors upscale ambitions.

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S.Koreans go mass-market, online for luxury goods
Reuters

Sixty years ago, war-torn South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. Now it is the world’s 13th largest economy and a magnet for luxury goods, prying open the wallets of its wealthy people as well as tourists.

Pierpont Inn owner files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
Ventura County Star

The owner of the Ventura Pierpont Inn has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection a year after signs of trouble emerged at the historic property.

Millions of dollars in debt, Grace S. Ahn filed for bankruptcy protection Nov. 25. Ahn is the trustee of The Ahn Family Trust, which bought the inn and spa in spring 2009.

Appeals panel hears new science about arsons that could free man
Fire Engineering

On Monday, a federal appeals court wrestled with Lee’s case – specifically, whether he should be given a new hearing to present evidence about the changed understanding of how fires burn, and whether he should be freed outright.

Defense attorney Peter Goldberger argued that Lee had been convicted only because of the testimony of fire investigators in Monroe County, and that their findings would not hold up today.

22-year-old becomes youngest mayor in O.C., probably the state
Los Angeles Times

Jeremy Yamaguchi still lives at home, is active in the Boy Scouts and voted for the very first time just a few years ago.

He’s also -– at the ripe age of 22 -– the youngest mayor in Orange County, and perhaps the state, the Orange County Register is reporting.

Yamaguchi was named mayor of Placentia last week, the youngest person to hold the post in the city’s 85-year history. He was elected to the council when he was 19, serving alongside council members who’d known him since he was in grade school. He was the top vote-getter in that election.

The Cal State Fullerton senior is set to take finals this week, the LA Times reported.

The Korean girlfriend gift guide
CNNGo

Visiting Supernormal, Cheongdam-dong boutique located right off the main “luxury street” is like entering a young, very rich, very stylish celebrity’s walk-in closet.

Fashionably daring Korean celebs such as 2NE1, Choi Ji-woo and Lee Hyori frequent the relatively small store to stock up on the latest in interesting fashion, while Japanese travelers also descend in small groups on the weekends.

Since anything in the shop has already been through extremely fashion-conscious screening, we consulted the Supernormal experts about putting together a fabulous girlfriend gift guide. Here are 10 unique gifts for the impossible-to-please, impeccably stylish ladies out there.

Samsung Was the Talk of Seoul, More than Usual, After Dealing With Hyundai
Wall Street Journal

Samsung has been the talk of the town on Tuesday for two reasons: the decision announced Monday to sell a big stake in an important affiliate to a Hyundai (yes Hyundai!) company and the list released Tuesday of annual promotions throughout the 60-plus Samsung companies.

As South Korea’s largest business group, Samsung is always the subject of a lot of attention, of course. But Tuesday’s chatter was particularly huge.

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