Koreatown and Korean Food through the eyes of an American with Korean blood. And of course…it’s in Koreatown!
It’s Roy Choi. So of course he had to do it differently.
Of all the things I thought of as I walked into his newest creation, Pot, for the first time, I thought of the Hart and the Hunter. I thought of the scrappy up and comer, trying to do their own thing in an underused portion of a Hotel that, previously, I had never heard of.
Still, Roy Choi seems to have a few strategic advantages over the guys at Hart and the Hunter. For one, he’s a name brand.
Screw that, he’s an happy, foodie empire all to himself…and to us, his paying customers who will be continuing to do so after an experience like this.
Latest, not the last.
It actually took me an orbit around the block to figure out where the hell the entrance to the Line Hotel was. My bad. Still, the Hotel is on, reasonably familiar ground. The K-Town Night Market had happen just up the street. I stopped to visit Robert F. Kennedy Inspiration Park (same site) earlier on out of respect to my Mother.
After handing over my car to the Valets, I took the long trek through the Hotel Lobby, seeking out the small, green “Pot” sign at the end of the hall. It looked…speakeasy-ish, like you had to be the know to find out what’s going on there.
Well, not so much. The Guy at the Valet stand just told me where it was.
Wait a minute. Isn’t that the bar over there? The place where I see the Pot logo floating in the Monitor of the Cash Register?
Oh, they’re both Pot? Say no more.
See? What did I tell you about empire??
You walk in, and…well, it’s weird. You have both the stuffy formality of whatever used to be in this space, with its marble-like walls. (Are they marble? I didn’t check.) The music is going, and going pretty strong. The day I was there it was mid 90s R&B. Good choice. Very much like A-Frame, the idea being to give us something comfortable and casual. You mix with friends here. You hang out. You have a good time. You eat. You drink many many beers.
Then the first “just gotta do it differently” happens. We get our menus…which are Newspapers.
This kinda makes sense. Newsprint’s cheap. If the restaurant needs more copies, printing more shouldn’t be much of a financial challenge.
Man, but they are collecting them just to be sure. Guess sneaking out with one isn’t an option. Then again, that’s what the web is for.
As you open up your paper for the day, you can see Pot is doing something closer to straight ahead Korean than any other thing Roy’s done in his past. It’s bowls. It’s seafood. It’s Banchan and all kinds of handmade Kimchis.
I should know, my meal came with a floor show of the Kimchi being made.
Everything is very shareable, and…like all things Roy Choi…still quite assertive in its flavors. I’m actually writing this review a couple of days after the visit, and even after all that time the sauces are still hitting my happy place. Because of that, Pot’s is a menu that’s going to take some time to work though, but oh what pleasant work it will be.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Pot serves these very nice, but very large Bowls of…of…well, all kinds of good stuff. Trouble is for me, the solo eater, they were a bit too large to have. The smallest being described as a “With A Friend”.
I didn’t have a friend with me that afternoon, soooooo….gotta eat small.
But the best Korean Potato Pancake I’ve ever had? Sold. And that dipping sauce was just to die for.
The straight ahead BBQ Spicy Pork was also really, really good. And the Hite Beer I had to wash it down with? Spectacular!
And of course, there are all the lovely, tasty, handmade (right in front of you if you’re sitting at the counter) Kimchis. Because what do we always say? A Korean Meal is not a meal unless there’s Banchan.
I’ma gonna have to make me some friends and bring ‘em here. I wants me a bowl!
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: It’s mostly about the Parking, and the fact that there is no sign on the street for Pot. There’s a big honking sign for the Line Hotel, where it’s based. Just keep an eye out for it as you come down Wilshire.
PARKING: Easy…in that your only real option is the Line Hotel Valet. It’s going to run you about $8, if you get validation from the Restaurant. You can try to find Street Parking, but…good luck with that.