Dining at Roy Choi’s latest and perhaps most ambitious restaurant yet, POT at The Line Hotel in Koreatown, is like diving head first down a rabbit hole. Passing through the hotel's lobby, just shy of the restaurant’s entrance, you’ll spy a sleek, circular bar replete with hanging bags of Doritos, boxes of Chiclets, and plastic toys that live, curiously, next to bottles of Macallan Scotch like some imaginary Park Avenue bodega.
POT’s glowing green neon sign (suspiciously akin to marijuana dispensary signs) will lull you through its portal like a hungry moth to a flame. Once deeper inside, the waitstaff buzz about, hauling platters of banchan, grilled galbi, and POT’s double entendre namesake and featured dish: spicy Korean stews called hot pots.
There is feminine floral motif every which way in the serene, sushi bar-esque setting of primarily eggshell and beech hues; even the servers don mismatched floral prints which, as chef Roy Choi points out, make them "look like Korean grandmas.” And as we all know, any Korean grandma worth her gochujang will feed you well.
Why yes, that is a giant marijuana leaf you see intermingled with dainty flowers pressed into the wallpaper. Rest easy, you don’t need to hold a cannabis card to order items like Kush, a salad of Asian greens, radish, fruit, pine nuts, and tossed with mustard dressing. They’ll hook you up without one.
But if you are visiting POT with some serious munchies, the hot pots, not the salads, are what you’ll be craving. While the “Boot Knocker"—a hot pot which includes tofu, instant ramen, Spam, corned beef hash, spicy pork sausage, rice cakes, fish cakes, and just about everything else in chef Choi’s kitchen—can be irresistible while intoxicated, the “Inside Story” is the hot pot lover’s real pick.
Brimming with entrails, there are two types of beef tripe within the “Inside Story”: the bristly honeycomb and the soft rumen tripe. These tough cuts are stewed just long enough to trap the spicy, savory broth in their nooks and crannies. Stubby lengths of small pork intestines bring the funk. Creamy chunks of pork belly smooth out this edgy pot with mung bean noodles adding the slurp factor. Blood is strewn throughout this take-no-prisoners Korean delicacy.
Roy Choi’s POT is a kind of homecoming for L.A.’s celebrated chef. For everyone one else, it's a taste of a new brand of heartfelt Korean food in K-town. Soon, we'll all be voracious POTheads.
POT at The Line Hotel, 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown, 213-368-3030 or eatatpot.com.