chapter  11
20 Pages

Compl(eat)ing the streets: legalizing sidewalk food vending in Los Angeles

ByMark Vallianatos

Over the past several years, Los Angeles has been praised for its hybridizing and informal food scene. According to food writers and urbanists, the city and region seemed to be constantly spinning off not just innovative cuisines-but equally significantly, different ways and places to sell and enjoy food. In 2010, Food & Wine magazine named Roy Choi, chef of the Kogi BBQ Truck, a popular taco truck that sells Korean-Latin fusion food, as one of its ten best new chefs (Brion 2010). Choi and Kogi co-founders Alice Shin and Mark Manguera helped launch the national and now internatonal trend for gourmet food trucks that announce their stops on twitter (Arellano 2012, pp. 266-269). A week after the launch of the Kogi Truck in late 2008 (before its success made him famous), Choi defined its signature Korean BBQ taco as Los Angeles in a meal:

Everything you get in that taco is what we live in LA. It’s the 720 bus on Wilshire, it’s the 3rd street Juanita’s Tacos, the Korean supermarket and all those things that we live every day in one bite. That was our goal. To take everything about LA and put it into one bite.