As the story goes, Roy Choi didn’t have enough money to invest in a stand alone restaurant, so he partnered up with some friends and started the infamous Kogi BBQ truck which many would consider to be THE food truck that capitalized on Twitter and started the whole food truck trend currently taking over major cities across the country. After much success which includes 4 Kogi BBQ trucks (across Southern California) and many more copycats everywhere else, Chef Roy Choi has finally opens up his first sit down restaurant with A-Frame. The menu refers to the fare as a “modern picnic”, and according to our waitress, the food is intended to be casual style food that can be eaten with your hands. She emphasized how social the eating environment was supposed to be, which in a way benefited us since we were 5 people who filled up a table and didn’t have to sit with strangers. However, for the couple that got seated with Susan Feniger (owner of Street in Hollywood), it probably was more exciting to say you ate dinner with a Top Chef Masters contestant. 🙂
These were the tastiest cubes of pickled daikon radishes that I have ever had. The crunch of the daikon and lightness of the pickled taste was quite refreshing.
I really loved this appetizer the best. It was a very creative take where they essentially took hot, buttered kettle-corn popcorn and mixed it with the Furikake seaweed mix which is usually sprinkled over white rice. It was so interesting. There was a bit of sweetness balanced in harmony with the saltiness from the seaweed mix. I seriously kept popping these kernels all night.
The Kitchen Fries were sprinkled with sea salt and made from purple Okinawan sweet potatoes, yams, and Korean sweet potatoes. These were good, but I felt the fries were cut a little too big. I really liked the kimchi sour cream sauce that came with the dish as it added a nice twist.
The shrimps were marinaded with kaffir lime leaves, dried shrimp salt and served with citrus cocktail sauce. I wanted so much to love this dish, because the shrimps were big, juicy and the cocktail sauce added a nice touch. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the taste of what I assume comes from the kaffir lime leaves. Seriously, I really don’t like that flavor… or smell for that matter. I smelled it all over Bangkok and it made me just a little nauseous.
These ribs were glazed with a Hoisin-Chili sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. They were cooked to the point where the meat literally slid off the bone. I really enjoyed it.
The chicken salad was mixed with Italian sausage ragout, salsa verde, picked red onions and placed over a slice of warm and tasty cornbread. I thought this was one of the more interesting tasting dishes. Not only was it delicious, but the flavors were a mysterious blend where I couldn’t quite tell if it was Asian or American or even Latin. The cornbread was great and provided a nice contrast for the chicken salad, which I thought was pretty light and very flavorful.
Although these crab cakes were on the small side, they packed quite a bit of taste. The crab meat was mixed with ginger lemongrass crème fraiche and baby lola rosa perilla leaves.
This was one of the juiciest fried chickens I’ve ever had. It was prepared Peruvian-style although, I’m not totally sure what that means. It seemed like it might have been roasted on a rotisserie, but considering how crispy the skin was and how moist the meat was, I’m not totally sure. They served these century eggs on the side which seemed a little bit odd and both a salsa roja and salsa verde. Definitely one of the better chickens I’ve had.
Although lamb has a distinctly gamey taste that is sometimes too overpowering for me, I actually thought these Korean-style Lamb Chops were pretty well-prepared. It was served with a citrus gremolata and salsa verde. Not my favorite but still a strong dish. Everyone else seemed to love them.
This sandwich included carne asada with queso fresco, salsa roja, and pickled red onions. I was a little unimpressed with this sandwich, not necessarily because it tasted bad, but after all the other dishes with their interesting flavors and/or unique preparations, I thought this sandwich fell a little flat for me.
The Fried Apple Pie was sinfully delectable. It was topped with a Cheddar ice cream and drizzled with Southern Comfort caramel.
These were pieces of pound cake coated with cinnamon and deep-fried resulting in that churro-like dessert. It was decadent to say the least. The deep-fried aspect of the dessert was what made it taste oh so good but simultaneously is oh so bad for you. The malted chocolate milk and vanilla ice cream on the side provided a nice palate cleanser for the grease, but it still tasted equally delicious!
Overall, I was very pleased with the food and very impressed with Roy Choi’s skills. He came by our table as he made his rounds around the dining room, and we were able to chit chat a bit. He mentioned that he was going up to the Bay Area to visit his sister and rattled off a few restaurants for us to try. He seemed highly complimentary of Commis which I have heard about for some time. It’s the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the East Bay, so it looks like I’m going to have to pick myself up and head on over to Oakland to give it a try. I find it funny how shy Roy seems to be. In fact, while we were waiting for our table, we saw him just standing by the side intensely checking his phone. It’s like he didn’t want to catch anyone’s attention, but he seemed to be waiting for people to come talk to him first. Nevertheless, his food is pretty good albeit a little bit on the heavy side, but I definitely think he’s done a great job and come a long way from the food truck.
12565 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90066
PAFO Ratings for A-Frame:
Price 3 stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4 stars