How often do you get to spend your evenings in a greenhouse? With new friends? Great food? And even better drinks? Step into Roy Choi’s new Koreatown jaunt: COMMISSARY. Located on one of the upper levels in the Line Hotel, this restaurant’s concept is completely novel and refreshing. Plants and greenery are strewn across the walls of this open space and large chrome pipes line the ceiling. The food, for the most part, is just as unique as the space. I got a last minute reservation for a Saturday night at 9:15PM (I called on a Tuesday and it was either that or 5PM — did I sound like a grandma?). I arrived 5 minutes before my res and the hostess sat us right away. The tables, for the majority, are long and family style. So unless you’re in a group of 40 or you don’t care about having any privacy, it wasn’t great for medium sized parties. It does however encourage making friends with your neighbors and it would be an AWESOME space to rent out for your own party.
Now I have to be honest here; Koreatown isn’t my usual hang. But, my friend and I were having a girls night and we wanted to try something completely new. Enter Commissary. While we felt slightly isolated in the new hood, when we walked into the hotel, the Lobby Bar was GOING OFF. Not to mention, dinner here can easily turn into a night in itself. While valet is avail in front of the lobby, make the smarter choice and order yourself an uber so you order yourself some drinks (plus- no one’s trying to get lost down there).
The menu was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before; no words, just pictures making the theme: order what you like but trust Chef Roy. If you’re one of those people who asks for everything on the side, this is not your place. We however, for better or worse, were in for the adventure. Overall, the food was like that guy your mom keeps harassing you to date — great in theory but that spark just isn’t quite there (you’ll see what I mean below).
As for the service, well, you decide. Everything was swimming along, our waitress had just brought over our bottle of wine, finished going over the menu with us (a paper with just pictures requires some explanation), and we had placed our order. About 5 minutes later our oysters came out which we were so excited to leisurely enjoy as we sipped on our wine. Unfortunately, flash-forward about 2.5 minutes later when ALL the rest of our food came out. We literally had to slurp down our oysters to clear room on the table. Not what we had in mind. I asked the waitress if it would be possible to hold on some of our food – you know, so we could actually enjoy it – and she explained that it was already ready so there was nothing she could do. Ummm ok. Note to self: DO NOT ORDER EVERYTHING AT ONCE. Place your orders as you go as to avoid this situation. Not to mention, as soon as our waitress walked away we never saw her again and some new chic apparently took her place…about 20 minutes later.
What we Ate (yes there were only 2 of us…what’s your point):
Wine ($48) – we ordered a bottle of Malbec which was fantastic. I wasn’t on a romantic date or anything but if I were, I would highly recommend it. We were feeling goooood afterwards.
Oysters ($18 for 1/2 dozen) – Delish. Fresh, Light. Definitely a great way to open your meal (if you’re not inhaling them).
Fries ($5) – Loved. Shoestring with not too much salt. Simple and the way fries should be. I hate places that try to be all creative with fries — like, it’s a potato.
Cauliflower ($12) – In theory, these sounded SO good: Tempura fried with a sweet dipping sauce. But, since everything came so fast, the batter was soggy by the time we got to them. They just weren’t as good as I know they could be. I will say, all the taste was still there so there’s that.
Broccolini ($12) – When we heard they were sprinkled with parmesan, ordering them was a given. Green means healthy afterall right? Let’s just say that the only thing healthy about the broccolini is that we barely touched them. They was so crunchily undercooked making chewing them nearly impossible. When you did manage to break through a piece, it just tasted like straw. Definitely put your $12 elsewhere.
Fried Egg ($10) & Brown Rice ($3) – Since my friend loves anything egg related, and I love anything bacon related (there were supposed to be bacon bits on the egg), we gave this a try. Take my advice, DON’T. If our server hadn’t told me there was bacon in it, I never would have known. And the egg in itself was nothing to write home about. While it was perfectly cooked, I don’t feel like I should have to commend the chef for that. It’s his job. Like when people applaud a pilot for landing the plane — why am I clapping at the fact that you didn’t kill us? Back to the food – There was so much rice that after the two bites we each took of the egg, we were left with just a bowl of brown rice. And since we weren’t at sushi or Thai, neither of us really knew what to do with it.
Burger ($14) – I love a good burger and this one was no exception. The meat was perfectly cooked with a little surprise waiting inside for you: horseradish! Was not expecting that and I gotta say, I didn’t hate it. Unique and inspiring flavors that you just don’t get from your local The Counter. The one caveat: the bun was a little on the thicker side which is just not my jam.
Date Cake (I honestly can’t remember what the price, but no matter, you need it) – there are no words. Ok, there are a few: this was a small piece of buttery heaven with a kick. Maybe it was the fact that we had topped off our bottle of wine at this point, but we finished the whole dessert straight off the serving platter. Our individual plates barely had a crumb on them. I’m not sure if it was the spicy sirracha kick or what, but we could not put our forks down. It was not something I had ever had in a restaurant before and a great beat to end our meal on.
Between the space, location, and food, Commissary as a whole felt like a great new experience, but it was one that will last a while before I head back.
Your Greenhouse Goddess,