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CHEGO Soft Opening - Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ opens Rice Bowl concept on Westside

Roy Choi and his gang of Kogi BBQ fame just opened CHEGO at 3300 Overland just south of the Freeway was hopping tonight . A young half Asian crowd was having fun at 9 pm with 50's music playing in the background. The owners including Chef Roy Choi were circulating getting feedback. They have been having their soft opening since Wednesday and for now plan to be open Tuesday to Sunday 6 pm to midnight.

No Korean Tacos, but affordable Rice Bowls. with Korean Fusion approach. Starters for $4 or 5 are meatballs, Korean pickles, Fennel Salad, asparagus salad, Caesar Salad and the most expensive dish on the menu a $12 Spinach Salad with Asian ingredients.

Rice bowls ($7 or $8) feature Prime rib, Pork Belly, Chicken or Kim Chee Tofu, all with and egg, different vegetables and exotic sauces. Very creative and tasty. We tried the Prime Rib, Chicken and Kim Chee and liked the Chicken and Kim Chee the best. Many other customers liked the Pork Belly.

Drinks are Korean soft drinks, Mexican sodas and American sodas.

When you walk in, you place your order and take a number on a stand that IDs. You help yourself to drinks in a room behind the cash register and then select a table where your order is delivered in cardboard takeout bowls. The Alibi Room has Roy Choi's Kogi Korean tacos and the Kogi breakfast burrito, but it is a bar and kids aren't allowed. This is a kid friendly casual place, as long as the kids can handle the spiciness of the Korean ingredients. This will be a popular takeout place in the neighborhood.

Parking was OK, but once word gets out, parking could become a problem. If the sleepy Brazilian cafe next door jazzes up their offerings, they will be able to benefit from the sure to be CHEGO overflow crowds.

An excellent addition to the ethnic eateries on the Westside. Congratulations to the Roy Choi gang.

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Alibi Room
12236 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

Chego
3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

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  1. Just noticed you put in that it starts to open at 6p... I guess I showed up too early :(

    --Dommy!

    1. This is such a good idea. Glad to hear it was tasty. I drive by that location all the time and I wondered how parking is going to be. I could really see that being a problem. It is good to see prices are in the $10 ball park. Even though I haven't liked most of the trucks I've tried, Kogi did stand out when it started. I remember trying it when they were parked in front of a Korean church north of Union Station. Really liked them, but something can be said for having a place to sit down. Saw the decor online and it looks pretty fun. Can't wait to try it.

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      Kogi
      Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

      1. The sleepy Brazilian cafe would be Rio Brasil? The place that topped the recent feijoda taste off by many hounds led by streetgourmetla. The mini maill might be looking up all of a sudden.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Jase

          Yup! A few doors down from Rio Brasil... I agree with the parking issue (which is why I attempted to go for lunch yesterday). The neighborhood it's right by is VERY dense (So street parking is a bear at night as everyone comes home) and that parking lot is SO badly designed...

          Plus, although it's not at ALL far from Culver City I would be tempted just to bike there but it's also on that big @$$ hill on overland.... Being a hot sweaty mess and then going for a rather rich heavy rice bowl just is not a good times... LOL!!!

          --Dommy!

          1. re: Dommy

            Yeah, the first time we went to Rio Brasil, we decided to walk like we usually do to avoid parking issues. I blanked out and was thinking 3300 was closer than I thought. We really worked up an appetite by the time we walked into Rio Brasil. It was a little over four miles, double our usual walking radius for a meal. I always think that hill isn't as steep as it actually is until I get on it.

        2. I went on Thursday. The rice bowls were great, my favorite was the prime rib. Egg dishes turn me ON!

          I do hope Rio Brazil benefits from the increased traffic. Suddenly, as Jase wrote, 3300 Overland is now a destination.

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          Rio Brazil Cafe
          3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

          1 Reply
          1. re: streetgourmetla

            if you like eggs and rice, try cracking a raw egg into a bowl of white rice and drizzle it with a little soy sauce. optional: throw in some bacon, parsley, and black pepper. rice carbonara. =)

            that said, i'll have to check this place out soon. hopefully, it isn't all hype. i love rice bowls.

          2. Went on Thursday night and thought it was just OK. Not bad but not special either. I had the beef bowl. Its about $9. Roy's a nice guy and they have great buzz but I'd rather get a chicken teriyaki bowl from some of the spots on the chicken teriyaki thread than return to chego any time soon.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Senor Popusa

              Chef Roy is the next superstar chef in Los Angeles.
              Chego is a hit.
              Been twice already, can't wait to go back.
              The bowls are great so is the desert.

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              Chego
              3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                  1. re: Servorg

                    alright, let's keep it real chowish.

            2. Anyone make it to the official opening tonight?

              2 Replies
              1. re: QualityMart

                Ok, I'll answer my own question since I stopped by tonight (Friday, third official night).

                First of all, in response to the OP who said: "the most expensive dish on the menu is a $12 Spinach Salad with Asian ingredients", you either didn't pay close enough attention or you don't have the greatest irony radar. :) That's literally the name of the item, "The $12 Salad", but it's $7. Dunno about you, but I laughed at it. Tap water is also $FREE.99. (Say it out loud, lol.)

                I like the atmosphere, nice dark wood or maybe fake-but-good-looking-wood floor (seems new, no scratches) and very clean. Otherwise what you would expect for a fairly cramped rice bowl joint. Place was hopping, but turnover was fast so it wasn't a clusterf**k or anything like that -- although I could easily see that happening if it got mobbed. When I got there I waited behind 5 people, no more than 3 or 4 minutes to order, but on my way out there were about 10 people in line.

                I got the "3PM Meatballs" and the "Sour Cream Hen House", aka chicken bowl. I had high expectations for the meatballs but was somewhat let down, mainly because they were too dry. I was hoping for some serious meat juice in every bite, but for some reason they just didn't have it, even though they tasted quite fresh. But the Korean-inspired flavorings that came both underneath and on top of the meatballs were pretty great, and definitely saved the dish from being a dud.

                As a fan of both plain-jane teriyaki bowls (as per a recent thread here) and the pretty much all of the kogi truck menu, I thought that the chicken bowl was perfect. Let's start with the rice: it was, IMO, exactly the consistency you hope for in a rice bowl -- a sort of homogeneous clumpy stickiness that makes it easy to scoop up and grab lots of sauce and meat with. The chicken itself was fairly close to the chicken you get in a kogi taco, but the "sour cream" part of the name was due to the fair but not overdone dousing of spicy cream sauce, and the vegetables (chinese broccoli, onions, I think some basil, maybe some other stuff) were stir-fried to the kind of al dente consistency you expect from an authentic SGV Chinese establishment, and definitely made the dish. Add on top of it a perfectly fried egg with a bright yellow yolk that jiggled when the bowl was placed down, and you've got $7 of rice bowl perfection. I should add that the dish was fairly spicy. Not enough that I batted an eyelash, but I could see some kids or people who complain about spiciness perhaps being overwhelmed.

                One thing I'll say with nothing other than visual evidence: the beef bowl looked small, smaller than the chicken bowl. I'm sure I'll try it, but it seemed like less of a deal than the chicken bowl, and it's $2 more. Maybe it's really filling, or just an optical illusion due to the different bowl shape.

                I will definitely be back!

                1. re: QualityMart

                  QM: Thanks for the correction on the $12 salad .... I was writing up the review from memory and obviously didn't pick up on the marketing name ....

                  We liked the chicken bowl a lot too. The prime rib bowl was substantial enough but the night we went it was a little dry. However I wouldn't be too judgemental during the soft opening.

              2. I can't tell from the descriptions, but is it just bibimbap with different proteins? I'm gonna try to check it out next week.

                1 Reply
                1. re: andytseng

                  It's not bibimbap, according to Roy. It's Roy's Korean style rice bowl.

                2. If you're not in the area I wouldn't go out of your way for it. But if you live with in walking distance like I do, it's the type of restaurant the area sorely needs.. Quick, tasty and (mostly) healthy. And I don't have to give up my parking spot in the valley of Apt bldg's. Almost as good as the champagne brunch at the Overland Cafe ;-)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: AAQjr

                    I agree with quick and tasty, but I'm unsure about the healthy part. My sister brought back leftovers from the pork bowl, mostly fatty pork, and the chicken bowl and they were both greasy.

                  2. I tried Chego tonight, and even with elevated expectations, I was impressed. It is a pretty small space, and was full when I got there at 8:15pm, and there were about 6 people in line to order in front of me and a couple standing waiting for a table to open. I decided to get mine to go. I ordered the Sour Cream Hen House, and it was very tasty. Had a nice creamy, spiciness that slowly built, but was not too spicy (had to add some Rooster sauce). Veggies were fresh and crisp and the rice was perfectly done (and I'm not a big fan of rice, but I ate every last one).

                    My only complaint (other than it being crowded - just wait til word spreads, and parking sucks) would be that I thought there could have been more chicken. But at $7, it was still a good value.

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                    Chego
                    3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mdpilam

                      Had takeout from Chego again tonight, to try the Prime Rib Bowl, and was disappointed. The prime rib (was it even prime rib?) was undercooked, and didn't exude much flavor. I didn't taste any horseradish or wasabi in it. Not bad, but the Hen House was definitely better - and $2 cheaper.

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                      Chego
                      3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                    2. Wife and I went to Chego on a whim last night. Parking was horrendous. Because of all the apartments, street parking is highly impacted. I dropped her off and parked 2 blocks away on Overland. I would think all the neighbors and local businesses would be really upset.

                      The place is popular because there were over 50 posts on Yelp in a 2 week period for Chego.

                      There was a long line of people ordering and every table in the small place was full. We chose to order take out. Wife had the Hen House and I chose the prime rib plus a side of asparagus. We are not familiar with bibimbop so we cannot really compare Chego with other places, but we were told that Chef Roy was re-inventing the rice bowl. If so, both dishes were really wonderfully flavored, and my prime rib was very tender. Each bowl had a bed of rice with fried egg, spinach and interesting flavors, topped with the meat. Veteran Korean gourmands could do better commentary on the quality of the food, but let's just say we loved it. Parking and seating problems aside, it was worth the trip, and reasonable for what we had. $9 for the prime rib, 7 for the Hen House, 5 for the asparagus. The only down side was the asparagus was just okay.

                      Service was very good and friendly despite the chaos. We even saw Chef Roy walking around talking with people.

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                      Chego
                      3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                      1. Thanks for these reviews, and we'll have to try this since it's fairily near us, although the menu and ambience truly sound like it would be more appropriate and appetizing for lunch.

                        All the mentions about the bad parking have roused me from a long posting hiatus to post a public service message. Parking is indeed terrible around there, and Overland can be very, very dangerous--the steep hill and the crowded surroundings can confuse drivers. A friend of ours was killed crossing Overland near that intersection a couple of years ago. Please be careful.

                        1. We live in the neighborhood. We stumbled upon Chego during the soft opening and went there last night. We've tried about seven of their dishes and we are not fans. It's seems like a big "slop" of stuff thrown together with a tremendous amount of MSG. Prices are good and the concept is great. We really wanted to like it, but we didn't and we won't be going back for a while.

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                          Chego
                          3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                          1. "Chego" means "the best" in Korean, and in my opinion, it is! I've been twice so far (Wednesday and Friday) and both times (8:30p and 7p), had no problem finding parking within the block. I've had: asparagus, meatballs, kimchee bowl, pork belly bowl, prime rib bowl and the dessert. Not all at once, though it has been the site of some gluttonous eating. The complexity of the flavors, the level of the cuisine really astounds me for the price. Two people for $20. Wow!

                            My favorite was definitely the pork belly bowl--with peanuts, seems a little Thai inflected. Great flavor and texture and tons of umami! Next favorite bowl is the kimchee bowl--mainly because of the sneaky chicarones in there--great texture and flavor in a bowl with soft tofu--a very mild bowl if people are seeking something a little tamer. I found the prime rib bowl to by my least favorite (though still delish)--there is a very strong wasabi cream in there with the fried onion bits that will clear our your sinuses.

                            As for the smaller plates--the asparagus was divine with a complexity of sauces and flavors that I have never found elsewhere. the meatballs with polenta--toothsome and yummy.

                            I strongly recommend trying Chego--not only is it fantastic, but the cost:ingredient ratio is ridiculous.

                            The staff is underwhelming in general, but the ambiance (a bit loud, but fun) is really young and fun. I also would like to note that whoever chooses their music has amazing taste--eclectic and interesting.

                            Three things I'd change? the dessert (oddly frozen yogurty with its only really great quality being the perfectly toasted almonds), the scramble for a table (they say it's "communal seating" but it's awkward when you're alone and trying to sit with a couple on a date) and the lack of booze (though I imagine that would seriously slow down table turn--but also perhaps be another source of revenue).

                            Overall assessment--i'll be back again and again and again and again and again and again...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: BunnieBear

                              I've been there for my sixth visit (or so)--staff has really warmed up and is much friendlier.

                              Also--NEWS FLASH! You can bring your own beer or wine (and cups, since they don't have glasses)! Yay! Just be nice when there's a crowd of hungry people staring you down (a la Fathers Office)...