The second episode of Parts Unknown aired last night, and host with the most Anthony Bourdain went to Koreatown in Los Angeles. There, he explored to finer side of LA food trucks with LA food truck king Roy Choi and learned what to wear and how to order at Sizzler with artist David Choe. In between, there was a whole lot of Korean food and a little bit of cruising around in some tricked out low-riders. Now, on to the Quotable Bourdain — feel free to add your picks in the comments below.
1: On Korean-American stereotypes and "bad Koreans": "For Korean Americans, according to the stereotype anyway, it used to be that you grew up to be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer. There were a specific set of rules and expectations. Thanks to some remarkably bad Koreans, though, things are beginning to change."
2: On Roy Choi: "Among the first to harness the strange and terrible powers of social media to alert customers to where to find delicious food."
3: Roy Choi on the food trucks in LA: "Withing our food media landscape, we've romanticized certain compositions of what a great chef and a great kitchen are supposed to look and smell and feel like. But just because those are beautiful doesn't mean that this is not beautiful... I see barbed wire and telephone poles. I see puddles and all of that stuff contribute to the flavor of the food. So it's truly what I call a terroir."
4: Roy Choi on checking in on his empire: "It's kind of like I have a huge Vegas hotel, but the hallways are the streets."
5: On food trucks: "Why should you be excited about food trucks? Because they allow creative chefs like Roy, without a lot of money, to start creating and selling their stuff, introducing themselves to the world, without having to gather up a million dollars or credulous partners. And they are faster, better, and infinitely preferable to the fast food like the king, and the clown, and colonel."
6: On David Choe: "What if you were an insanely talented artist? And a small startup company called Facebook asked you to do some murals in their offices? And they paid you in stock? And you became ridiculously wealthy? And you still didn't give a fuck? Well then, you might be David Choe."
7: On Sizzler: "Standing tall and prominent, amongst the many Asian and Central American restaurants in the community, one place holds an unexpectedly cherishes position in the collective memories of many second generation Korean Americans. I am personally unfamiliar with the Sizzler brand. Though I know it by name, but never have I personally managed to actually cross its doors."
8: Choe on Sizzler: "We never ate out ever. And if we did it was McDonald's. And if it was a birthday and a special celebration, and you wanted to kick it up a notch, then it was Sizzler."
9: Bourdain on Sizzler: "This is a judgment free zone. Where there are no mistakes. A world to explore incongruous combinations without shame or guilt. Free of criticism from snarkologists because there are no snarkologists at Sizzler."
10: Choe on what to order at Sizzler: "The move is: get a hard taco shell and you put meatballs in it. This is Italian Mexican dining. And you make a meatball taco. And there's nowhere else in the world where you can have this. You put three meatballs in the taco, some guacamole, and then you put all this nacho cheese and all this other stuff."
11: Bourdain on Sizzler's cheese toast: "Oh now wait a minute. Are you saying that the cheese toast is complimentary?"
Choe: "It's complimentary, and once we found that out we'd order stacks of it. It was our favorite part of Sizzler, and we were like, we need to manufacture this at home.'
12:On low riders: "In East LA, you see people ooh and aah. You see expressions change from 'Who the fuck is that?' to 'Nice ride.'"
13: On the halo-halo at Jollibee: "Dig deep and you hit delicious stratas of red beans, white beans and chickpeas, cubes of red and green jello, young white coconut, shaved ice, and is that flan? It makes no goddamn sense at all. I love it."
14: On Korean dumplings: "So would this classically be post-drinking food or pre-drinking food? Lay down a base of absorbent materials?"
15: On Koreans and food: "Pretty much any Korean you meet anywhere, you can take it for granted they like food, that they're passionate about food, particularly their food. Which of all the immigrant cuisines, has possibly been messed with the least. Unlike many other new arrivals, Koreans seem to have been the most unwilling to accommodate Western tastes. Maybe that's why it took us so much time to love the stuff."
16: On tofu rules: "All tofu should be spicy."
17: On the hipness of Korean food: "Koreans can well remember when nobody was interested in their food. Now it's confusingly au courant. Must be strange for the owners who've just been doing what they've been doing for years."