Roy Choi has undoubtedly been one of the most influential chefs in Los Angeles in the last several years. Even if you don’t recognize his name – and Angelinos will – you have probably heard of the Kogi Truck, a Korean-bbq fusion food truck that really market the start of the food truck revolution. Long before Kogi ever got on the road, Choi’s life was rich with all kinds of food traditions and in a book that is part cookbook and part autobiography, LA Son: My Life, My City, My Food gives you a brief overview of the food that Choi ate, made and was inspired by along the way.
Like any good autobiography, the book starts out with Choi’s birth and early years, hinting at the types of foods – tamales to kimchi – that shaped some of his ideas later in life. Every chapter is followed by recipes inspired by the stories told in that section of the book. The recipes range from comfort foods that originally came from a variety of different cultures to dishes that Choi enjoyed at various eateries he either worked at or visited to some of Choi’s own unique creations. The recipes are just as entertaining as the stories in the book and you can see how they fit together, even if you’ve never sought out a book that will give you recipes for Chili Spaghetti and Lebanese Kebabs just a few pages apart before. The book is illustrated with photos of the food, of Los Angeles and of Choi’s life.
This book has a great story and is an enjoyable read even if you don’t make any of the recipes. As a native Angelino, however, I suspect that this book is going to be even more appealing to those who are from, or live in, LA. While element’s of Choi’s story are going to resonate with many people, the locations (and even some of the food) in the book are going to have deeper meanings for those who grew up with them and with some of the same traditions that Choi did.