Bourdain calls these "one of the great mutation mash-ups" of L.A. food culture. Choi melded a traditionally Mexican format - the corn tortilla-wrapped taco - with traditional Korean fillings like bulgogi and kimchi to create the now iconic and often-imitated Korean taco. Choi's Kogi BBQ Taco Truck brought the cross-cultural treat to the streets of L.A., and now they can be found on menus across the U.S.
In layman's terms, this is tofu soup. In Bourdain's world, it's a "fiery, tongue-searing, ass-burning soup that will make you forget every bad thing you've ever thought about tofu." It's a spicy red broth with a soft tofu base, and versions vary from there, but often include kimchi, as well as beef, oysters, mussels or clams, and an egg cracked and added tableside. Spoon it over rice and feel your insides catch fire.
For $10 or less, a hungry diner can jam down a big bowl of rice with meat, vegetables and "a whole lot of flavor," per Bourdain. Choi's soon-to-relocate Chego restaurant features a Spam bowl with fried rice, scrambled eggs and baby bok choy with a touch of butter and toasted sesame, as well as a version with marinated grilled chicken, fried egg, Chinese broccoli, sour cream sambal, Thai basil, sesame and red jalapeño.
Lahori fish curry
It's not just bulgogi and tacos - Little Bangladesh occupies several blocks within Koreatown, and with it comes goat stew, samosas, tandoori chicken and fragrant, chili-spiked Lahori fish curry eaten over rice and with folds of flatbread.
The classic tinned meat plays a major role in Filipino cuisine, finding its way onto morning egg and rice platters, then slipping into sandwiches later in the day. The popular Jollibee fast food chain features a fried Spam sandwich, as well as pineapple-topped Aloha burgers, fried bangus fish, spaghetti, noodle platters and a dessert of tapioca pearl tea or halo-halo.
We'll let Top Chef contestant Dale Talde field this one. He says, ""This is my favorite Southeast Asian dessert that is essentially shaved ice. Halo-halo is the Filipino name of it and there are variations in a handful of Southeast Asia countries (Air Batu Campur or ABC in Malaysia, for example).
Instead of blueberry-flavored high fructose corn syrup (commonly served at roadside snow cone carts in the U.S.), Filipinos use fresh fruit like mangoes, jack fruit, lychee, avocado and young coconut, then tie the whole thing together with sweetened condensed milk and top it off with puffed rice."
Execution varies wildly, and may include any sweet ingredient from flan and tapioca pearls to gelatin cubes and fruity cereal.
Wang mandoo (or mandu) are thick, massive dumplings stuffed with pork, kimchi and vegetables, then crimped and steamed to the point of softness. At Myung In Dumplings (which features both Chinese and Korean offerings), smaller mandoo are more loosely wrapped with a thinner dumpling skin and served with chili paste, and steamed buns with red bean paste make a sweet end to a carb-centric meal.