They say that it takes an outsider to enact change. An outsider that has a new perspective and success trailing him is often the one sought after. Roy Choi is that outsider that has taken on a new challenge, LocoL. A challenge not because of what people may think about the food in general but because of his noble cause to bring healthful food to low income communities like Watts. A community that is popularized because of it’s high crime rate like its neighbors, Compton and South Central. This is not a place where a chef looking to keep on succeeding in the restaurant business will launch a new restaurant. Most people will avoid these areas of Los Angeles and not even bother in exploring these historic neighborhoods. This is where Roy Choi’s ultimate genius is, the exposure that LocoL brings to Watts.
I decided to venture off and try LocoL as it has been trending as a must try place in LA. As I drove to Watts I started asking myself how a Yelp blogger would react in this neighborhood. Not stereotyping the common yelp blogger, but most of the spots that are currently trending have a different setting. Nevertheless curiosity over this “experiment” has overpowered the fear that one might have with the rep of the city.
LocoL is important because it exposes LOCALS to a new type of restaurant culture that maybe a Louisiana’s fried chicken might have dabbed into long ago, a mix of different cuisines. Louisiana’s fried chicken, a local fast food joint, has done fusion by selling soul food and Chinese food since the mid 70’s in this community. LocoL brings Roi Choi’s revolutionary fusion recipe’s to favorite eats like fried chicken sandwiches, chili, quesadillas, and sundaes.
As I exited the freeway on my way to the restaurant I couldn’t help but start blasting my favorite west coast music. It just seemed fit as I “pulled up” to LocoL to pay homage to the west coast music culture that began here. To my surprise I was met with Y’G’s Who Do You Love banging inside the restaurant which I believe sets the tone for the vibe you will find in LocoL. Their logo resembles a character on a skateboard all in a simple black and white color. The restaurant is also black and white which to me exemplifies the intentions of the food, simple and affordable. No need for over the top often “bougie” art decorations or eloquent worded meals. Yet it still makes a millennial/ Instagram addict like me happy because it has an aesthetic appeal through minimalistic design. Deciding what to order may have been the only thing puzzling about my experience. Interested in tasting all of the different options (menu down below) I decided to keep it simple and go for their fried chicken slaw burg (burger), chicken crunches (nuggets), and strawberry lemonade.
The three item meal came out to be 8 dollars and change which is what I pay for two tacos in a hipster taqueria place in Orange county (no need to call out names). When i received my meal it looked like a well prepared and hearty meal. My “burg” was fried but still didn’t have an obsessive oily feel to it. The slaw of the burger felt light because the mayonnaise was spread on the bun lightly. The hot sauce also brought a good contrast to the sandwich and was not spicy in my opinion (I suffer with hot cheetos). My three nuggets were big and one bite really had my teeth digging into some wholesome chicken breast with the same texture as the chicken in my sandwich. LocoL also used the aqua fresca (Fresh Water in english) name to title their Strawberry Lemonade appropriately. As i took a sip I could imagine someone making a batch of lemonade at a time instead of a machine with a pulp bag dispensing one cup at a time.
The staff was great in providing good service and hospitality. I think people will really enjoy the vibe that this establishment brings. It really does good to the image of Watts and breaks the average “ghetto” stereotype. I really hope that LocoL isn’t only advantageous for the local residents but also for all of L.A. This means more people daring to come into these parts of town and realizing that there is more to what the common knowledge is. I am sure that Roy Choi knew what the effects would be and realize that through helping the community he is also making a bigger mark for himself. As a Los Angeles native I am proud to say that I love L.A and that doesn’t only mean the gentrified or upper class areas. It also includes places like Watts where I can bring family, friends, or foodies to eat and give them a new experience.