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Roy Choi’s Rice Bowl place, now in Chinatown!
You wouldn’t expect this here… Or then again, maybe you would.
It is old Chinatown, after all…the Chinatown that’s expected to draw tourists, just around the corner from Philippe’s The Original. It’s away from the hipsters and foodies that have made Roy Choi so popular. No, you have to work a little to get to Chego. Is it worth it? Is it…dare I say…any good?
We’ll, it’s Roy Choi’s place…so of course it’s worth it.
I guess the only question is how many times are you going to brave Chinatown to come down here.
As many times as I need to, friend.
Chego sits in a little corner of the multilevel Far East Plaza, amidst a group of restaurants and stores you’d just as soon forget about. It’s the Old Chinatown that the holdovers who haven’t moved to the San Gabriel Valley are still hanging on to. It’s the Old Chinatown that Tourists who don’t know any better come and get their knick-knacks and bric-a-brac at.
Yet, the good rice bowls are here, nestled into a corner of the Far East Plaza. If you have a hard time finding it, worry not…odds are there will be a line of foodies out the door. If you’re still having a hard time, listen for the sounds of Ice Cube or Andre 3000 (at least, that’s what was playing the day I was there).
It may be a tiny little place, but it’s a brick and mortar with a Food Truck philosophy. You pay your food, and wait as your grub is prepared specifically for you, then you come and get it. What more could you want?
And, as usual, the aggressive, assertive flavors that Roy Choi is known for are there. You can’t get a beer at this location, (more’s the pity), but you can kick back and relax with a damn good rice bowl. And that’s what you traveled all the way here, isn’t it?
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: My first visit involved the Kimchi Spam Bowl, which has butter-fried Kimchi, Spam, Scrambled Eggs and Baby Bok Choy and a touch of Toasted Sesame. This was my favorite of the bowls. You don’t expect anything with Spam to have anything close to delicious consequences, but…then again, it maybe the Kimchi and the scrambled egg that drew my heart.
My second visit wasn’t as successful, but it was totally, totally my fault. I got the Chubby Pork Belly Bowl which has a Fried Egg, Pickled Radishes, Water Spinach, Chinese Broccoli, Cotija and peanuts.
I totally forgot to hold the peanuts.
It made (for a guy with a serious peanut allergy) for a difficult, difficult lunch.
What I did have, was fantastic. The roasted Pork Belly was done to charred perfection. The fried egg was a beautiful touch, and the melanges of vegetables and spices actually carried a bigger punch than the Kimchi Spam Bowl…
…but damn those peanuts.
My fault, folks. My fault.
Both visits, I got the 3AM Meatballs. Now, the 3AM Meatballs. Now, these are fried meatballs with a crispy, crunchy shell, with shaved green onions, sesame and fried polenta patty. As far as I’m concerned, these Meatballs must happen for me on every visit. Every…visit.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Like I said, a lot of the dishes come with Peanuts. When you select your meal, if you have a Peanut allergy like I do, just ask them to hold the Peanuts. They will do that here. I just plum forgot.
Also, some small places like this have a history of being cash only. Worry not, this place takes cards.
And they give free refills on soft drinks (at least as of this posting).
Plus, they sell autographed copies of Roy Choi’s book…which I availed myself of.
PARKING: The parking at Far East Plaza a little hard to see. The Far East Plaza sits atop its own Parking Garage, but…you’d never know it to look at it. The downward ramp is on the right side of the building, and the out is on the left side. Both ramps are exceptionally narrow, and you’ll have to be a little careful going down. There are spaces down there, a lot more than you’d think, but they’re all extremely tight.
The good news is Chego does validate for about an hour, which is what your meal should take you. You’ll get two stamps from the nice lady when you order. Make sure they don’t cover the bar code, and you’re good to go. You should park for free.
Park anywhere else on North Broadway and you’ll have to pay four bucks. Worse, they’ll use the same kind of ticket as the Far East Plaza. Yes, I know it’s confusing, but…just know before you go.
727 North Broadway, #117,
Los Angeles, CA 90012