If you’re visiting LA, there are 3 things you MUST do…
- Go to Disneyland
- Eat tacos
- Eat Korean food
We met up with our friend, TV personality and restauranteur Chris Oh to see where he would take someone new to the city. Originally from the Bay Area and currently residing in LA’s Koreatown, Chris Oh has lived in LA long enough to say he’s a local. He knows his way around town like his own kitchen. When it comes to showing someone a good time, leave it to Chris to know where to go and what to eat.
For Oh, living in LA’s Koreatown means you’re surrounded by 2 things. Taco trucks and Korean restaurants. We opt out of his suggestion of going to Disneyland and dive into his field of expertise – food.
On our first adventure with Oh, he takes us back to his culinary roots and start off in the most LA way possible – hitting up some taco trucks.
When most people think of tacos in LA, many picture carne asada, pastor or maybe even fish tacos. Oh takes us to neighborhoods, outside of the shadows of Downtown LA’s skyscrapers to show us a new (to us) world of tacos. Crispy shrimp ceviche tacos, savory birria tacos eaten along a rail road track and the “Pablo Escobar of tortillas”, delicious tacos wrapped in flour tortillas made with flour driven across the border.
As we go from taco truck to taco truck, Oh shares how this type of experience was non-existent growing up. Although he was constantly surrounded by Korean and Latin flavors, he grew up eating ONLY Korean food at home. If they went out to a non-Korean restaurant, they would eat Chinese food. Oh says, “being young and coming from an immigrant family, the last thing you wanna eat when you go out is the food of your heritage. i wanted to eat pizza and pasta and go to chili’s all the time a get those damn sizzling fajitas platter!”
Cooking became a creative outlet. His parents wouldn’t let him and his brother do much when they were younger but when it came to cooking, they were allowed to cook and eat whatever he wanted. Always staying true to his Korean roots, he learned how to cook his favorite Korean dishes. Then experimented by combining Korean and Latin flavors.
That influence is still present in many of his restaurant endeavors. He has helped create several Korean restaurants and helped expand peoples perception what Korean food can be; from LA to SF, Hawaii to Las Vegas. Most of Oh’s restaurants have offered either a traditional but elevated Korean dining experience i.e. uni steamed egg and bone marrow corn cheese at his restaurant Hanjip or Korean fusion cuisine by way of kimchi empanadas at Escala, a Colombian-Korean fusion restaurant or galbi sausage from Seoul Sausage. The latter being a food truck that would win The Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race and expand his career beyond the kitchen.
After eating what feels like a weeks worth of tacos and talking about Korean food, Oh decides he wants to wash it all down with some soju and Korean food at some of his favorite Ktown spots.
To be continued in Part 2.
Where should Chris go next? Let us know in the comments!