Stinky, Spicy, and Delicious: The Radical Reinvention of Asian American Food

It’s a weekday night at Chego, a rice bowl joint situated next to a convenience store in a postage-stamp-sized mini-mall in West L.A. Customers line up at the register to order dishes like buttered kimchi chow, a bowl of rice topped with fiery Korean pickled cabbage, a fried egg, and red chilli tofu, strewn with a colourful garnish of Mexican fried pork rind, and Japanese dried seaweed. Many customers supplement their orders with a house favourite — a glorious mess of French fries smothered in sambal-spiked sour cream, melted cheeses, chillis, cilantro, and pickled garlic. The amped-up flavours — salty, sticky, sweet, spicy, and addictive — assault the senses like stoner food from a Harold and Kumar fantasy.

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