When Roy Choi recently announced that he's going vegetarian, the food world freaked out a little. Wait, the same dude who made Korean short rib sliders and pork belly tacos a thing? The Korean-American chef who started the Kogi truck back in 2008 (there's now a fleet of five trucks plus four brick-and-mortar restaurants, and he's working on a memoir called Spaghetti Junction) shared the news on his blog, Riding Shotgun. He wrote: "Animals be talking to me. They told me... stop. Stop, Roy. Please."
This doesn't mean other people have to stop; you can still get your pork belly fix. "I'm trying to cook in vegetable state of mind, and if meat flies in meat flies in," he told the New Yorker. "I'm like a boxer tying one arm behind my back, to see if I can knock you out."
Now at Chego, his restaurant serving "chillax peasant food from the soul," you can order the Leafy T with tofu, instead of the Beefy T (prime rib in chili fried rice). And in honor of Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who died last week, there's a rice bowl homage called the MCA: mushrooms, cauliflower, and asparagus.
We asked Choi about his favorite spots for meatfree eating in Los Angeles. "I don't really know what it means to be vegetarian. So I don't know if these are vegetarian restaurants, but they do have vegetables." Fair enough.
View Roy Choi's Vegetarian Picks in Los Angeles in a larger map
BCD Tofu House: The old one on Wilshire just got a facelift and it feels like its always been that way. They polished it up but kept the soul. Their vegetable soon tofu is fucking delicious.
Jeon Ju: Small place in my old hood just off Olympic and New Hampshire. She speaks hardly any English, she snarls at you, but she gives you "bibimbap no meat" if you ask.
Bon Juk: On Wilshire in K-Town. Vegetable porridge or pumpkin porridge. Sooooo good!
Tacos Arizas: Echo Park again. Quesadillas with salsa. Done.
The Dragon: Black bean noodles no pork. Ask for it with vegetables. They say there is no pork, I just have to believe them.
Golden City: Mapo Tofu or any of the vegetable dishes. They even made me a hot and sour soup with no meat!
Sage: This one's in Echo Park. I think it's vegan but I would never know. They pack flavor and it's a great space with great people.
Yabu: West Hollywood. This is my favorite combo lunch spot. I used to get the uni bowl and soba set. Amazing bowl of rice with salmon eggs and uni. But now it looks like just soba hot and cold with an avocado roll for me for now.