Roy Choi is so excited, he can’t get the words out fast enough. “It’s like a miniaturization of all my favorite cities: Tokyo and Seoul and New York and Los Angeles, all in one.” The F&W Best New Chef 2010 and famed owner of Los Angeles’s fleet of Kogi BBQ Korean taco trucks traveled to Melbourne, Australia, in 2011, and he returned a passionate devotee of the city. (He even has a commemorative tattoo on his left wrist: the street address of the restaurant Coda, where he did a guest stint.) Now I am heading to Melbourne myself to find out why ambitious young American chefs are so transfixed by its food scene.
“Here in the States, we lose our sense of direction. Things aren’t cool all of a sudden, so we trash them,” says Choi. “In Melbourne, you can be thorough, be honest, be pure, care about something all the way. If you act like you’re too cool for school, you get figurative eggs thrown at you.”
- Wine, Whiskey and Wallabies: an Epic Tasmanian Tour
- An Outback Odyssey at the Royal Mail Hotel
- A Brilliant Australian Pairing
It has been a long time since I’ve felt that excited about restaurant food. I am hoping Melbourne’s earnestness will soften the harder edges of my New York City neuroses.