Skift Take

This week Bourdain succeeded in telling a new and intriguing story to viewers about an under-apperciated culture and cuisine that exists in a major U.S. city; a discovery as valuable as insights into foreign destinations.

Bourdain was back on Sunday night dishing out food for thought on the second episode of Parts Unknown.

Again, Bourdain explored his destination through historical anecdotes, personal interviews, and lots and lots of food. He met with chef Roy Choi and artist David Choe to understand the culture that creates Los Angeles’ Koreatown, and its many multicultural influences.

Choi is a Koreatown native and owner of the infinitely popular Kogi Trucks, which serve up Korean BBQ tacos. The trucks announce their daily location via Twitter where a line usually awaits their arrival.

Sample tweet:

“Food trucks let creative chefs like Roy, without a lot of money, start creating and selling their stuff…[food trucks] are always better than fast food,” explains Bourdain.

The pair also experience tableside cooking at Dong II Jang, a kimchi Spam bowl at Chego!, and finger food at A-Frame.

Next, Bourdain meets up with artist David Choe who made his millions by agreeing to paint the walls of Facebook’s first offices in exchange for stock. Choe is simultaneously mysterious and intensely down-to-earth; he takes the cameras inside his parents’ home and his childhood.

Choe’s family welcomes Bourdian and gang with a meal of fresh kimchi, stuffed peppers,vermicelli noodles, avocado egg rolls, potato pancakes, and more.
Parts Unknown is showing itself to dig into the stories behind the meals as Bourdain discusses the 1992 Koreatown riots with the senior Choes.

Both worked as real estate agents at the time and took a personal hit from the city’s destruction. Today, Mr. Choe points to the prominence of K-Pop and Psy as a symbol of how far the Korean culture has spread.

The two continue what seems like one endless day of eating at Myung in Dumpling, where Bourdain revels in the unique freedom he has for hosting a TV show on CNN.

It’s during Bourdain and Choe’s last meal — a soup of soft tofu, kimchi, beef, oysters, mussels, and a raw egg — that Koreans’ understated pride is most evident. Choe explains to Bourdain that the other diners wonder why a TV show would care to investigate their cuisine so intimately.

“The beauty is already given, it’s part of the product. There’s no reason to congratulate us because its already awesome,” sums up Choe.


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: anthony bourdain, cnn, los angeles

Photo credit: Artist David Choe makes a dramatic entrance, but then becomes very real as he takes Bourdain and gang to his childhood home. CNN

Up Next

Loading next stories