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Chego -- My First Impressions

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  • nosh Apr 26, 2011 09:16 AM
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Had dinner at Chego this past Saturday with two friends. Enjoyed it, but there were some notable shortcomings. First, the staff could not have been more friendly or eager to help, from the guy who took orders at the register to the server who not only brought dishes and cleared but repeatedly offered to refill water. First courses were good -- really liked the meatballs, which were crispy on the outside and loose within and served with a tasty, chunky topping, though a small order. Charred asparagus worked. Ordered "oooey-gooey" fries with the spiced sour cream on the side, and these retained their crisp through the large order -- very good. Surprise was the "$12" salad ($7) which came nicely dressed in a tart-sweet dressing and had lots of tasty accoutrements. Grilled romaine was a disappointment, no char on the leaves. Larger bowls were less successful -- the pork belly pieces were dry and chewy rather than fatty and succulent, the prime rib bowl with fried rice tasty but not as meaty as expected.

People seemed happy at the communal tables and they seemed to be doing a good takeout business as well. Just under $50 for three people to eat more than enough a good deal for interesting food. But the major problem was the music, which was loud pop and rap, played at way too high a volume for us to easily converse. A comment as we left received an acknowledgment but a response that management wanted it that way. Makes the two sidewalk tables outside the best in the house.

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Chego
3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

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  1. We like the food generally, although my wife finds most of the "vegetable" options not too appealing. It's not a place to "linger" - that's for sure. Not just the music, but the whole room seems a bit cave like and depressing. I've had good pork belly bowls and some not as good pork belly bowls. Sometimes the prime rib is tender and not too fatty and sometimes not. The sour cream hen bowl is normally very reliable. It is certainly a good value/cost effective dinner.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      Personally, I adore Chego... so happy to have it nearby... however I totally agree it's not a place to linger. It's supposed to be a place to fuel up and then head out to the next party which for me, more often than not, is down the street at Scoops Westside! :)

      --Dommy!

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      Chego
      3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

      Scoops Westside
      10640 Woodbine St, Los Angeles, CA 90034

      1. re: Dommy

        When you go to Chego you have to be in the mood for what I call "Cave Man" food. It bashes you over the head with its flavor and then drags your taste buds off into the woods to have its way with them... ;-D>

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        Chego
        3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

        1. re: Servorg

          I havent been to Chego but find this to be true about Roy Choi's food in general. I have eaten off the Kogi truck and also at A-Frame and i find his flavors a little too bold for my taste buds. I also agree that the music (at least at A-Frame) and the noise level in general is way too loud. Kudo's to Chef Choi for what he has been able to accomplish, but its not for me.

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          Kogi
          Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

          Chego
          3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

          A-Frame
          12565 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

    2. I LOVE those fries and the sour cream hen bowl. But I agree, the music is too loud.

      1 Reply
      1. re: aching

        Yeah, it's loud, but I don't mind it as much as the DIN in A Frame... OMG... that is intolerable...

        --Dommy!

      2. Chego was good, I had high expectations, but I must say that almost every dish was oversauced in my opinion. I prefer things to be oversauced than way undersauced in most situations. But a good restaurant should just get it right, right? my opinion only!

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        Chego
        3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

        12 Replies
        1. re: tenxtone76

          Yeah, the oversauced thing can be said for Kogi's offering and even A-Frame. Roy Choi beleives in 'flavor bombs' I happen to love it (I grew up with aggressive flavors) but its certainly not everyone's cup of tea...

          --Dommy!

          -----
          Kogi
          Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

          A-Frame
          12565 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

          1. re: Dommy

            I grew up with assertive flavors as well and love it. My only complaint is that they are not open for lunch. I would def agree that he is not trying to make Chego a restaurant to please all palates.

            Did anyone catch is '5 questions' on the LA Times blog? Love his taste in music! : 'Mana, Ana Gabriel, Aventura, Banda Limon, Los Bukis, Vicente Fernandez...'

            http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/daily...

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            Chego
            3300 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034

            1. re: AAQjr

              Yeah... they have QUITE literally heard my cries about the lunch thing. They absolutely REFUSE. *le sigh* But they are quite nice about everything else including remember my standing order for Sriaracha Bars... ;D

              But yes, I loved that interview! I was real skeptical about Kogi thing and Choi's cred in general (Hotel Chefs are a completely different breed, not in a bad way, but they have to deal with processes that are SO different than a restuarant kitchens) But then I went to a panel he was speaking at and he TOTALLY stuck up for his Mexican Cooks... It was awesome and he earned my respect then and there (It also helped that I had finally tried Kogi a few days before and was darn near ready to fall in love!), so I was not surprised AT all... It's what is bumping in hundreds of Kitchens all over LA (including mine! ;)) ! :D

              --Dommy!

              -----
              Kogi
              Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA

              1. re: AAQjr

                Same here, AAQjr. Why on earth can't he get a day crew??

                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                  Everyone makes mistakes now and then. For instance, you assume Chego isn't open for lunch based on a post made over a year ago, when it fact it is now open for lunch Tues-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm.

                  http://eatchego.com/

                  1. re: Servorg

                    It is a very new change, so it's an easy mistake to make. I am glad to see they are open for lunch now.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      Funny, I was making this assumption on the fact that I drove by there this past Saturday midday, and place looked closed to me, dark & deader than a door nail. Good news though, now I may finally get to try one of his joints. Kinda funny how you picked up on a response to an older post.

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        To be fair they 'ARE closed between 230 and 530. So they may have been closed when you were driving by.

                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                          Because I participated in this thread it shows up new in my Q every time there is a new post contributed.

                2. re: tenxtone76

                  I agree everything tends to be oversauced (and therefore too salty). I usually get stuff to go and supplement it by adding plain rice & sometimes some plain veggies & fried egg(s) and get 2, even 3 servings out of a single rice bowl. If eating there, I find that the prime rib rice plate is usually seasoned just right (but kind of hard to cut the meat w/ a plastic knife...)

                  Anyway, I do love Chego... out of all the Roy Choi offerings, I think it's the best one. I am not a fan of Kogi & A-Frame is way too freaking loud - I couldn't hear myself talk... that's loud! I like the food, tho. If you consider Chego loud, A-Frame is like a jackhammer to your eardrums.. although it kind of depends who's sitting next to you & how loud they are.

                  1. re: soniabegonia

                    >>...is way too freaking loud - I couldn't hear myself talk... that's loud! I like the food, tho. If you consider Chego loud, A-Frame is like a jackhammer to your eardrums...<<

                    I'm telling you folks - the outdoor benches/tables are the way to go. Especially with the weather warming up, they are the best seats in the house at A-Frame...

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      Auditory exhaustion or exhaust fumes? Decisions. Decisions. ;-D>

                3. Went to Chego, finally. Wow, how horrendous. Everything greasy, heavy. No concept of beauty in the meal. I would never go back. Somehow I think the chef isn't managing the place anymore and the cooks have taken over, slopping stuff together.

                  Will never return.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: epop

                    Your complaint is akin to someone going into an ice cream store and then griping about how cold the cream was. Chego is a place for those that like shockingly strong tastes that take no prisoners and throw subtlety on the floor and stomp it into little whimpering whiny wusses. It is NOT for those looking for nuanced, light, ungreasy or healthy.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      Okay, I've only been once, but I'd actually say that epop's comment is more like going to an ice cream store and then griping (validly, depending on one's taste) the bizarro flavor combos that would normally detract one from commenting on the texture and creaminess of the ice cream itself, except that in this case it doesn't unfortunately detract at all b/c the texture is so obviously a gloppy mess that it's easily discernible beneath the pretentiously bold flavors.

                      YMMV, of course. ;)

                      I will say that I liked Sunny Spot (aside from the douche-bag-y waiter) and the picked vegetables at A-Frame.

                      1. re: ilysla

                        ilysia:
                        when i got my first job as a "private chef," i had never really cooked before: just lied about it and figured that i'd "fake it 'til i make it."
                        whenever i ended up with an inedible dish, i'd transform it into some sort of stewy concoction, add some strong flavors willy-nilly, a lot of salt, and a cube or two of butter or lard (if necessary, making a roux with some of it).

                        after i actually learned to cook, i stopped resorting to such baloney. Chego has not.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Cute story. Maybe it's the cultural/concept disconect because to me Chego isn't faking it. If anything, its one of the most truest restaurants out there in terms of what he wanted to do with it... If you look at Kogi, A Frame, Sunny Spot and Chego, they all come from the same root. The dish, amplified. I've heard Roy talk about and for me, it was how I grew up.

                          Growing up in a very diverse area, really the only thing that all my friends, Korean, Chinese/Taiwanese, Filipino, Samoan, had in common really was that we all had rice cookers at home and they were always full of rice. Rice would be the base of all the meals we would share with one another after school, during study groups. I taught them about rice and beans. They taught me about rice and kimchee. Roy had a similar experience growing up in L.A. and working in the all the kitchens he did around the country.

                          When I want something healthy and fresh, I know where to go for a wonderful salad. When I want something refined and polished, I know where to go for a fine dining experience. When I want pure comfort flavor bomb, I go to Chego.

                          --Dommy!

                          1. re: Dommy

                            yes, normally i'd serve those "stews" i made over rice too.
                            rice was perfect because it absorbs the grease so that the people eating the food are unaware of how much salty, spicy, lard is actually going down their gullet.

                            to me:
                            chego is not acceptable.
                            sunny spot has one dish out of three that is really good and one out of three that is not worth the caloric intake.
                            haven't tried A-Frame and won't until someone else is interested in paying.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              +1.

                              Obviously, people have different opinions and people are entitled to those opinions. While the white rice is a common factors in various styles of Asian cooking, I agree w/ westsidegal that it acts as a starch that helps to mask (although for me it's more of a masking of the incompatible flavors through the use of food that can give some level of consistent texture....)

                              I'm not particularly worried about salt and grease, alas. I just don't think the food there tastes that good.

                              I'm Asian (although fairly Americanized, so there wasn't a ton of Asian home cooking around.... However, I did grow up in the SGV), but there's very little that's familiar about Choi's cooking to me (aside from the use of rice). It just ends up being (for me) being less than the sum of the parts. I actually resisted going to Sunny Spot for a little while after my experience at Chego and A-Frame, but it's a convenient location for me and my friends, so....

                              1. re: ilysla

                                rice to mask flavor. You guys obviously do not understand korean food or what he's doing here.

                            2. re: Dommy

                              I completely agree. It was exactly what I remembered from my childhood but amplified to new levels. Easily my face of roys places. I'll continue to go as often as I can

                              1. re: Dommy

                                Just like with Father's Office, I encourage people to not like it. They are soo busy It can be a pain in the butt sometimes. Unfortunately the food is food is good

                                If you don't like it Please don't go!!! Thank you for your support. :)

                                1. re: AAQjr

                                  i do the same thing with 800 degrees.
                                  i actively try to dissuade people from liking it so that there will be more room for me and mine.
                                  obviously, i'm failing miserably at this.
                                  when i was at 800 degrees last (at 10pm last friday night), the line was out the door and the main chef-guy was still there supervising.

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    Lol, that's exactly what I was thinking last time I was at Chego on a Wednesday and it was packed to the gills.

                        2. re: epop

                          epop:
                          <<no concept of beauty in the meal>>
                          +1

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            I had decent fare off the Kogi truck and at A-frame, and love strong flavors and really truly despise health food. We're not talking about a flavor bomb. It
                            was simply atrocious stuff thrown together by people who probably aren't chefs.

                            The slop they served us may be edible to some people on these posts. All I present is my humble opinion. Part of that is a suspicion that very few restaurants in the USA are even worth eating at.

                            1. re: epop

                              humble?

                              1. re: linus

                                pie?

                          2. re: epop

                            It's so, so bad. LOL

                          3. I like Chego. It is what it is, and I like it fine. I like their portion sizes and the whole idea of the place.

                            What I don't like is that (unless they changed recently) you can't phone in an order. That is absolutely insane to me. I've been there twice, and even just getting take out you have to deal with a crowded parking lot and the food takes 10-15 minutes at least. The whole ordeal, when you factor in driving, is easily as time-consuming as dining at another local restaurant.

                            When I want take out, I want it NOW. Like I said, I've been there twice. That number would probably be 8-12 by now if I could call in an order and pick it up. There's no way in hell they're saving more money than they're losing by refusing call in orders.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: BrewNChow

                              They started taking online orders about a month ago.

                              1. re: jsandler

                                Thanks - they'll get more business from me now

                                1. re: BrewNChow

                                  Tried to order online today at 1pm.... Didn't work.

                                  Someone else got my business. That's another 10 dollars Chego won't get.

                                  I don't understand this place and why they don't want my money.

                                  1. re: BrewNChow

                                    It says right there on the online order form "not available on Sunday-Monday" (since they are closed those two days).

                                    1. re: BrewNChow

                                      That's horrible, I wouldn't go back if I were you!

                                      On a side note I am glad to see they are now open for lunch :)