A Little Roy Choi and His Spaghetti!

Food & Wine is one of my favorite magazines. .  I was flipping through the August edition last week and came to this: The Best Pasta for $4 a Serving! Reading on, I see that the recipe is from Roy Choi, the Korean dude who started the Kogi taco trucks in Los Angeles! Even though this recipe takes 3 hours, yes 3 hours (sauce simmering and such). .  I knew I had to give this one a try.

“The $24 spaghetti from Scott Conant’s Scarpetta in NYC is so delicious,” says Roy Choi of L.A.’s Kogi empire. “My $4 version tastes almost as good.” Roy’s trick: flavoring tomato sauce with a quick mushroom broth and slow-cooked garlic.”

I made Scarpetta’s spaghetti with tomato and basil back in January of this year (see here) and this pasta is delicious.  This is the kind of pasta I would think people are eating in Italy. .  this is the pasta that they are eating in Eat Pray Love. Well, this is the pasta that I imagine they are eating because it looks soooooo good and this pasta is soooooo good. Something had to be good. The movie sucked. Sorry, Julia.

Anyway, Roy’s version is awesome, yummy and well worth the 3 hours of cooking! Roy, I know I was supposed to discard the mushrooms but I just couldn’t. My dad taught me to never waste anything. So, I put them back in the sauce and added black olives because I love them so much. Also, Roy, come on, who has an immersion blender?? Most people don’t, right? Just use a potato masher. That’s what Scott Conant uses.

So, I didn’t follow the recipe to a T but  ..  it was delicious. Give this one a try and if you’re ever in Los Angeles, be sure to find the Kogi truck and get some tacos!

$4 Spaghetti That’s Almost as Good as $24 Spaghetti

(Recipe from Food and Wine; recipe here)


  • 4 ounces white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup peeled garlic cloves (4 ounces, from about 4 heads)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Two 28-ounce cans peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  • Black olives (optional)


  1. In a saucepan, bring the mushrooms and 3 cups of water to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the broth is reduced to 1 cup, for about 1 hour. Strain and discard the mushrooms. . . or keep them. 🙂
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the garlic and olive oil to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the garlic is very tender and golden, about 30 minutes.
  3. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, bring the tomatoes and the garlic and oil to a boil. Add the mushroom broth and, using an immersion blender or potato masher, puree the sauce until smooth.
  4. Add the mushrooms and olives (if you are using) and bring the sauce back to a boil, then simmer over moderately low heat until thickened, about 1 hour. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the spaghetti and return to the pot. Add 2 cups of the sauce and cook, tossing, for 1 minute. Transfer the spaghetti to bowls, top with the basil and serve with grated parmesan cheese.
MAKE AHEAD: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Voila! Love the recipe, Roy! 🙂

Yumminess on a fork!


5 thoughts on “A Little Roy Choi and His Spaghetti!

  1. Pingback: A Little Roy Choi and His Spaghetti! | Hip Foodie Mom | ClubEvoo

  2. It’s true that this recipe takes three hours, but that’s not three hours of work; it’s mainly stuff simmering on the stove while you can be doing something else. And, yep, we have an immersion blender… the sauce is great, incredibly garlicky and flavorful.

    • hey there! good point! I just revised my post to point out that you are not working for 3 hrs! 🙂 Definitely do not want to discourage people from trying this recipe. . like you said, it’s great and flavorful and oh so yummy! Where did you see the recipe?

  3. Wow, this sauce sounds like a labour of love! I’m glad to hear the effort was all worth it in the end. I also love Food & Wine magazine, although I must confess that I have yet to cook something from their pages …

    I only recently managed to “perfect” a tomato sauce which I now use quite often as a base for pasta sauces, or to serve with steak or some grilled polenta. It takes only about 30 minutes tops for me 🙂 Imagine how it would taste if I spent 3 hours making it!

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