“The best tacos in the world are in Tijuana”: Chef Roy Choi

The second season of “Broken Bread” is available in KCET and Tastemade

Photo by: Broken Bread

Renowned Korean-American chef Roy Choi, one of the founders of the gourmet food truck movement, came to Tijuana to film the second season of his show “Broken Bread.”

Roy Choi spent one week in our city: “the most visited border in the world” and in an exclusive interview with San Diego Red he told us what were his first impressions.

I love Tijuana! I hadn’t been here in over 20 years, I didn’t know what to expect and I came here without expecting anything, almost like a baby. No judgment, no preconceived ideas, I just wanted to get here and completely absorb the love, and it was incredible, man! I know that there are a lot of complicated political and economic things going on in Tijuana, but when it comes to the people and the things that I saw, in culture, in food, I realized that this is probably one of the most exciting cities I’ve seen in the last 10 or 20 years, and I’ve been to Australia, Europe, and Asia.

He mentioned that Tijuana tends to have a bad reputation, especially in the United States, but that he realized that the city is the complete opposite, after discovering how amazing the food and the love from its people are.

I didn’t even know that people knew me here in Tijuana, you know? A lot of people yelled at me in the street, they whistled at me, you know, they made gestures with their hands: “We love you, chef!”, “We love the chef show!”, and all kinds of things. I was very impressed.

Exploding in popularity in 2019, with his Netflix series, “The Chef Show”, together with director Jon Favreau, Choi came up with the term “food that isn't fancy”, since he has always focused more in flavor, technique, and combinations to delight and captivate, than presentation.

Beyond the radical urban landscape, the chef was impressed with something very peculiar:

The smiles, you know? What I noticed the most in Tijuana was the smiles. Everyone you meet for the first time, they only smile, that is beautiful.

In his tour through Zona Centro (Downtown) he was accompanied by ex-members of “Tijuana No!”, Ceci Bastida and Alejandro Zúñiga , who spoke to him about what Tijuana represents socially and economically, as well as the city’s evolution. They also talked about immigration, cultural blending, gastronomy and its fast growth and development, all of which are ingredients that represent for many a new beginning when looking for opportunities and dreams.

Another show host was Tijuana native chef José Figueroa whose food you can eat in ”El Casimiro” located inside Insurgente Tap Room, and who also owns ”La Carmelita” food truck in Telefónica Gastro Park.

As a sample, a button. His guides took Roy Choi to try some Tijuana tacos and not necessarily “the fanciest ones”, but those whose reputation was born from the streets. What was his verdict?

Well, I can tell you that the tacos in Tijuana are no joke, they are really the best tacos in the world. I asked everyone and mentioned some comparisons like “What about tacos in Mexico City? What about tacos in Oaxaca?”... and they were like: “Nope!”. Tijuana is the world capital of tacos, and I believe it.
I tried carnitas and it was incredible. Some of those places, I don’t know their names, but I do remember Carnitas Kiki. We tried coal carne asada like they are made in Tijuana, steaks grilled in coal, and oh, man! Birria tacos! I ate the new modern tacos in El Casimiro in Insurgente in Revolución Avenue. Simply incredible!
The flavors and the way they are made and the sauces. I love how a lot of sauces are almost like mole or fermented dough entrees where sauce is never taken away. You just simply keep adding a new sauce once one is over and that’s how flavor develops. As a cook, I really love that process.

At the end of the episode, it is revealed that another place that Chef Roy visited was ”Tacos El Franc”: “I could stay there all day and they would feed me.”

You can watch the second season of “Broken Beard” in KCET and Tastemade.

You can watch the complete interview down below:


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