Roy Choi, the man behind the world-famous Kogi BBQ Taco Truck and the new book, L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food, reveals his favorite off-the-radar spots in Los Angeles. 

AS TOLD TO
CHRIS SCHONBERGER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY
MAGDALENA WOSINSKA

1. FRESH IN THE BOX
The sign just says “Brown Rice Sushi.” I’m sure 10,000 people drive by every day and think, “I’m never eating in that spot,” but it’s so good. Evidence from Dilated Peoples has become a good friend and he took me to this place. He’s probably gonna kick my ass for blowing it up.

13354 W Washington Blvd.
310.301.9100
fresh-in-the-box.com

2. HONG KONG BANJUM
Korea’s gotten popular over the last few years but people aren’t up on the Korean-Chinese game like those of us who grew up on it. Hong Kong Banjum does a $5.99 jjampong, which means “all mixed together”—it’s a spicy seafood stew with noodles in it, kind of like ramen. The one I like to go to is in the Kagoo Beverly Market. It’s cheap, tasty, no-bullshit food.

4317 Beverly Blvd.
323.663.3789


3. SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP LAKE SHRINE TEMPLE
I’ve gotten really spiritual and I go to this place in Pacific Palisades. There’s a lake, a couple of temples, a lot of gardens. It’s a place where you can unplug and let go of your mind a little bit.

17190 W Sunset Blvd.
310.454.4114
lakeshrine.org

4. PIZZANISTA!
Salman Agah, who runs Pizzanista!, grew up near San Jose in a bakery and became a legendary skater, but when he got older he went back to his roots with baking. The dough is amazing. It’s got great service, it’s open late, and it’s next to a bar. I always get the vegetable pizza.

2019 E 7th St
213.627.1430
pizzanista.com

5. EL PARIAN
El Parian sells birria, a goat stew from Mexico. It’s kind of a secret spot. You have to go in through a gate in the back, and there’s always some dude there—you don’t know if he’s going to charge you to get in, but usually you just walk by and he’s smiling.

1528 W. Pico Blvd
213.386.7361

6. SAGE ORGANIC VEGAN BISTRO
It’s the best vegetable-driven restaurant I’ve ever been to. Not to mention the girls working and eating there—oh my fucking God! And it’s wide open because the type of dude going there is truly on the veg kick, so, oddly, the hot girl sitting next to him is not on his mind.

1700 W Sunset Blvd.
213.989.1718
sageveganbistro.com

7. YU HAIR
I like to go to a Korean salon. Hot-ass girls shampoo my hair and rub their titties on my cheek while they’re cutting it. And they give me compliments like, “You look good, you look good.”

621 S Western Ave.
213.384.3765

8. COMMERCE CASINO
I have a whole chapter in the book about my addiction to gambling.When I was around 25 years old, I lost everything and was a complete dirtbag. This is not Vegas, but it’s a scene to check out if you’re interested, and the food is excellent.

6131 Telegraph Rd. 
323.721.2100
commercecasino.com

9. FUGETSU-DO
Fugetsu-do is an old mochi spot that’s like a time machine—you go in there stoned and you’re transported back in time to the ’30s or ’40s. You can buy mochi by the piece, which is rare, and eating that texture stoned is great.

315 E 1st St.
213.625.8595
fugetsu-do.com

10. ELYSIAN PARK
Everyone goes to Griffith Park, but Elysian Park is the old-school, low-rider, cholo, Dodgers-Stadium-tailgating, before-you-go-to-the-ballpark type thing. Only if you’re from L.A. do you know Elysian Park.

835 Academy Rd.
laparks.org