LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold said "no restaurant in years may have made more of a difference than Locol." It's the first time the publication has honoured a restaurant of the year.
LocoL, which serves healthy and affordable fast food, employs from the local area, in what is a hugely deprived part of the city. Gold describes the cuisine as "neither fusion nor fine dining, but an attempt to redefine fast food with kitchen techniques you usually find in restaurants that cost 40 times as much ... Locol may be only one version of the future of food, it is one that we all can live with: good food for all."
The award could perhaps be interpreted as a broadside at a recent controversial zero star review in The New York Times for LocoL's Oakland location. Choi had this to say about NYT restaurant critic Pete Wells and the review: "He didn't need to go there but he did. That's why he's a part of LocoL. The power of this change and this nerve that it hits. It compelled him to write something he knows would hurt a community that is already born from a lot of pain and struggle."
The award was announced as the Times' month long Food Bowl food festival got underway.
From 28-30 October, join Fine Dining Lovers for a celebration of young culinary talent, when 12 global finalists will battle it out in Milan for the title of best young chef in the world - plus, join our first edition of Brain Food forum. See what's on.
Fine Dining Lovers teams up with the Culinary Institute of America, James Beard Foundation and Black Food Folks on the Better Business project to build stronger, more sustainable business practices for the industry.