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Thank you, Chinatown! + The Birth of the Kogi Taco

First, some MOOD MUSIC. And I know that I am NOT the only one excited about the release of M.I.A.’s Matangi:

This little piggy got roasted and deep fried. A happy, juicy, luscious little thing with kettle-cooked potato chip-crisp crust of a skin. THANK YOU, Hop Woo.

This little piggy got roasted and deep fried. A happy, juicy, luscious little thing with kettle-cooked potato chip-crisp crust of a skin. THANK YOU, Hop Woo.

Before we mosey onwards towards November, I do want to say a quick thank you to all the people who hopped on the Chinatown Halloween Dim Sum Costume Crawl. Apologies for the blurry camera photos. I think my Droid had a few beers too many.

Spicy lobster stir fry with garlic, ginger and scallions, oozing its gravy all over a bed of chowmein. Seriously, a ticket for the dim sum crawl is the deal of the century.

Spicy lobster stir fry with garlic, ginger and scallions, oozing its gravy all over a bed of chowmein. Seriously, a ticket for the dim sum crawl is the deal of the century.

This may not look like much, but it's a platter of deep fried duck bills, courtesy of Hop Woo, of course. Crispy flavor bombs of the best Chinatown has to offer, imho. Highlight of the night for me.

This may not look like much, but it’s a platter of deep fried duck bills, courtesy of Hop Woo, of course. Crispy flavor bombs of the best Chinatown has to offer, imho. Highlight of the night for me.

Can we all pretend that this is a sh*tty Instagram filter and not a victim of bad lighting and shaky camera phones? I was way too excited when taking this photo.

Can we all pretend that this is a sh*tty Instagram filter and not a victim of bad lighting and shaky camera phones? I was way too excited when taking this photo.

Much love to Hayley and Christopher in their cutie couple Mary Poppins and Nameless Chimney Sweep costumes. (WHO can name this guy without Googling it? See? NOBODY!) Also, isn’t it great to know that you’re just different Myers Briggs types and just see things differently? As promised, here’s the a link to MB personality profiles to help you guys know that the other partner IS NOT CRAZY. 🙂

IN OTHER NEWS

If y’all haven’t heard of Roy Choi’s memoir, you’ve been living under a rock. No judgment. I like rocks.

photo credited to Bobby Fischer.

photo credited to Bobby Fisher.

Lucky for all, though, it’s coming out TODAY, which means you can actually buy it now this moment RIGHT HERE.

It is just about everything you thought it would be, and more. Want a bite? Down below is an excerpt tailored specifically for the Kogi blog from his truly. For those of you curious of hearing yet another riff on the origins of the Kogi taco, I bring you this…

Windshield

The idea, as Mark presented it over lattes and cigarettes, was to put Korean BBQ in a taco. “Wouldn’t it be delicious?” he said. And that was all he proposed, a basic outline in black and white. But it was enough. Enough to lead me back to the box of crayons that I had tucked away for the last ten years while I was busy climbing the ladder, enough for me to know exactly what colors to use to fill in that outline.

I did a beta test of the salsa roja on my own, then hit the market again to tweak it and pick up more ingredients. I got everything I needed for the improved salsa, plus everything for the taco itself—marinated short ribs, tortillas, onions, cilantro, limes, cabbage, lettuce, scallions, sesame seeds—and made my way to Mark’s kitchen in his tiny Koreatown apartment. Spread all the groceries out and started to color in our outline of a taco. I didn’t know exactly what the picture would look like when I was done, but the technical details didn’t matter right then. As I chopped and layered ingredients, visions of Silver Garden, Pershing Square, my childhood refrigerator, cruising in Whittier, Grove Street, transient life, the desert bubbled up and started flowing through me like a tidal wave. I was possessed. Sohn-maash.

I had it.

It was about four inches in diameter. One and a half bites at most. Oily but crispy. Made of fresh corn, but never grainy. Filled with meat that felt like it had been chopped all day by the same cleaver over and over again on a worn wooden block, then thrown on a plancha and sizzled to a crusty sticky juicy niblet of life. Showered with chopped onions and more handfuls of chopped cilantro than you can imagine. Lime juice everywhere. And salsa roja, smoky and pungent.
There it was. Los Angeles on a plate. Maybe it wasn’t everyone’s L.A. but it was mine. It was Koreatown to Melrose to Alvarado to Venice to Crenshaw crumpled into one flavor and bundled up like a gift. The elements looked like city blocks. The flavor tasted like the streets. And the look said home.

Much love and many tacos,
Aliiiiiiiiiiiiiice

6 Responses to Thank you, Chinatown! + The Birth of the Kogi Taco

  1. Dana says:

    His name is Bert, babe. *drops mike, slinks back to Nerd Corner*

  2. Seanie Boy says:

    Can’t wait for the rest!!!

  3. alice shin says:

    @Dana – and you, my dear, are clearly no nobody. ::bows down::

    @Seanie Boy– there you are! ::waves:: I missed you.

  4. Seanie Boy says:

    @alice, you know i’m not going anywhere.

  5. roslyn Lewis says:

    Hey what restaurant made the spicy lobster in the picture. I would like to try it!

  6. alice shin says:

    @roslyn Lewis — Hop Woo. You should come by. They’re f*king awesome.

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