World-renowned chef, author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Los Angeles' Koreatown in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, April 21, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.
Roy Choi created a brave new world of gastronomy almost single-handedly with his Los Angeles-based Kogi BBQ taco truck.
A Korean-American who grew up on the fringes of Mexican and hip hop culture, Choi's food reflects a new American idea of natural fusion - culinary influences that grew up next to and with each other.
In this episode of "Parts Unknown," Anthony Bourdain examines the meeting point of Asian, Latino, Mexican and even Bangladeshi culture in modern L.A. Koreatown.
Choi recently talked with CNN about his culinary vision and the bond between food and cultural identity.
CNN: You broke some boundaries when you combined the traditions of Korean barbecue with Mexican street food. Did you get any push back about being “unauthentic”? Does that matter?
Roy Choi: We were honest in our food and our voice. It's as much L.A. as anything else is. I am from here and this is our sound. We owed nothing to anyone's perception of authentic. We just taste like L.A. and L.A. is a mix of many cultures and taking chances.
CNN: What do you want to communicate about your culture through your food?
Choi: That we are not ethnic.
I don't understand "ethnic" because who is it that is using that word? Is it coming from an English-speaking state of mind and if it is, then how did we as so-called "ethnic populations" become something to be labeled? No one culture is the norm so no one culture therefore is ethnic. We are not different, we are all different, but we are all human and no one culture is the center.
CNN: You were classically trained as a chef and worked at lauded restaurants like three-star Michelin Le Bernardin, what made you go back to your roots?
Choi: I never left my roots, I just didn't know my roots were good enough to be my profession. We get caught up sometimes on a journey to become more educated or enlightened, not knowing sometimes the strength is right where you come from. But sometimes you need that journey to supplement your roots with knowledge and training, and that's what happened to me. I gained training then I finally saw how to apply that to who I truly am.
Explore Anthony Bourdain's favorite places to visit in Los Angeles:
Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant
Dong Il Jang
Monte Carlo Bar
Myung In Dumplings
Julie’s Taco Truck
Dive into the food that Bourdain and guests enjoy in the episode:
There are many variations, but usually patrons or waitstaff grill the meat, then each diner places some on a lettuce leaf in the palm of his or her hand, tops it with kimchi, rice, chili bean paste (or any combination thereof), rolls the leaf into a little sandwich and eats it. Other people skip the lettuce process altogether and just enjoy the meat and rice.
Kimchi fried rice
Lahori fish curry
Instead of blueberry-flavored high fructose corn syrup (commonly served at roadside snow cone carts in the U.S.), Filipinos use fresh fruit like mangoes, jack fruit, lychee, avocado and young coconut, then tie the whole thing together with sweetened condensed milk and top it off with puffed rice."
Execution varies wildly, and may include any sweet ingredient from flan and tapioca pearls to gelatin cubes and fruity cereal.
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