Roy Choi's A Frame Culver City

I need to apologize to Roy Choi. He is a culinary pioneer in LA, credited with starting the food truck movement with his Korean Kogi BBQ that still stands the test of time. Not content with simply being Kogi King, Choi moved into the brick and mortar world and opened Chego and A Frame in 2010, and since that still wasn't enough success, he brought Sunny Spot to Venice the following year. Most recently, he consulted on the new food focused movie, "Chef" and also just opened a restaurant, Pot, in the Line Hotel in Koreatown. I've licked sour cream and pickled garlic from his "ooey gooey fries" at Chego, I've savored the exotic spices of the Jamaican roasted lamb from underneath my fingernails at Sunny Spot, but somehow A Frame just slipped through the cracks, and for that I must apologize.

Roy Choi's A Frame

Roy Choi's A Frame

Now I don't think Chef Choi is actually suffering from my absence judging by the full house on a recent Friday night in the no reservations locale, but after just a few sips of my vodka, watermelon, lime "Spittin Distance," we were shown to our table.

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The tables under the A frame wood roof are all communal, meet your neighbor set-ups. Silverware is placed in yellow metal cylinders in front of you and you're given a colorful, tin plate to hold your modern picnic fare that you're encouraged to split with your dining companions - ideally the one's you know, but who's to say.

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I liked the set-up. The music was a groovy indie track, a little on the louder side, but it added to the energy in the room, or more like the chalet. My friend and I ordered 4 items to share and within 10-15 minutes all the items were on the table. That's a bit too fast for my liking, and for the leisurely consumption of drinking a bottle of wine, but they don't take reservations so I guess they want to keep things moving for those who aren't as lucky as us to be sitting.

The heirloom pickles starter goes above and beyond just pickles, throwing in the likes of pickled carrots, pears and beets. The serving sauce was a creamy blue cheese and lemongrass dip with olive oil and sesame seeds on top.  Winner, Chef Choi. A friend once confessed to me that he double downed on this dish all by himself in one night. It's understandable.

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The "Octopi LA"  had a beautiful nest of charred octopus with salty nori thrown on top and a warm, savory sauce. Crunchy, savory, delicious.

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I was instructed to eat the blue crab cakes using the perilla leaf like a wrap. I preferred just running bites through the bright, lemongrass creme fraiche. I spent a lot of years eating Maryland crab cakes when I lived in Baltimore, so while I know this wasn't a re-creation, it just didn't land as well as the other dishes for me.

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The lamb meatball skewer was all herbed up with a nice garlic yogurt sauce and salsa verde, served alongside a citrus gremolata salad. Another winner.

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Roy Choi isn't afraid to use some spices and luckily for the daring diners, he knows what he's doing. The flavors were strong and bold and the dishes weren't ones I'd seen on other menus. I'm looking at you kale salad. I'm a fan of A Frame's fun, communal vibe, but next time, I'd like to tell them to slow down the pacing, in case it takes me another few years to return, though that seems highly unlikely after this very satisfying meal.

 

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