How LA Chef Roy Choi Made His Hot Cheeto Restaurant Dreams Come True
For Los Angeles-based chef Roy Choi, Hot Cheetos aren’t just chips but a relic of his childhood he still loves today. He can still remembers his first bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. When the spicy snack first came out, he grabbed a bag from his local liquor store and instantly knew this was something special.
“I was hooked right away and I’ve been lovin’ the Puffs ever since.” Choi says.
That’s why it’s no surprise that Choi decided to team up with Cheetos to create the Flamin’ Hot Spot, a three-day pop-up restaurant in LA with dishes made with—you guessed it—Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Nearly 10,000 people were on the restaurant wait list and reservations were booked full in under an hour.
The first Cheetos pop-up restaurant, The Spotted Cheetah, debuted in New York City last year, reservations sold out in minutes and the waitlist racked up thousands of names. The success of the event prompted a sequel in the the Flamin’ Hot Spot. Choi’s goal was to try to incorporate some of his restaurants’ most popular dishes like the Kogi burrito and Chego meatballs with Hot Cheetos.
Choi’s Cheetos mashups are your junk food dreams.
“Some of the dishes are reinterpretations of dishes from [my restaurants] Kogi and Chego,” Choi said. “We made the Ooey-goey fries that came from Chego and instead of the fries we used Hot Cheeto puffs.”
He says they’ve tapped into the hottest food trend around – literally. Choi’s goal was to make the chips a core part of all the dishes. From pancakes made with Hot Cheeto batter to milkshakes with Cheeto dust on the rim.
“Everything about spiciness and challenges and everybody upping their game on things that is fairly new, and a lot of people have been using it, but they’re using it more as like a garnish. We tried to really look at it like, ‘How do we use it as the full ingredient?'” Choi explained.
From Hot Cheeto Fries to Hot Cheeto Milkshakes, it was everything a Cheeto fan could ask for.
The menu had appetizers like Flamin’ Hot Elotes and Chipotle Hot Wings battered in Hot Cheetos that tasted just as good as they sound. If steak is your thing than the pop-up restaurant had you covered with the $32 Five-Alarm Cheetos Steak that was rib-eye steak with sprinkled Hot Cheeto seasoning salt on top. For desert, Choi created the “Hot” Chocolate Shake which was chocolate ice cream, raspberries and crushed Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Puffs on the rim.
There’s good news for people that didn’t get the chance to visit the restaurant as Choi said many of the menu items will live on as specials at his other restaurants.
“We already have such a huge fanbase with Kogi and Chego and I already know they love Hot Cheetos so I thought let me just make their late-night dreams come true,” Choi said. “That was the premise behind this all.”
The restaurant was fully decked out in Cheetos decor and style.
“Everything about this restaurant from the artwork, the food and the menu is all because of the fans,” Choi said. “We wanted to create an experience like no other.”
The restaurant is a childhood dream come true for Choi who loves the spicy snack.
Choi was raised in LA credits growing up in southern California played a big part in his cooking style because of the diversity. Many of his restaurants menu include Korean-Mexican food items that are inspired by LA’s Latino food culture.
“Everywhere I go in LA you’ll find someone that loves Hot Cheetos and they always ask me when am I gonna incorporate it into my menu, well here we are.” Choi said.
The Flamin’ Hot Spot is a dream come true for Choi and for all his past projects this one has a special place in his heart. “You know I’m from LA and this is what we eat.”