Culinary

Places to Eat in Koreatown

by: Fairmont

June 24, 2021


 

Located between Downtown and Mid-City, Koreatown is all culture packed into a 3 square mile radius. It is one of the most densely populated and diverse neighborhoods in the city, with 68% of its population born abroad, mostly in Asia and Latin America. The neighborhood is stimulation overload dominated by an eclectic array of independently-owned restaurants and businesses.

It's inspiring to see that even through the toughest times within the pandemic that the food culture has continued to endure in Koreatown. The tents that sprung up in sidewalks and in parking lots mid to late last year to accommodate outdoor dining has brought the experience of al fresco street food dining in the busy cities in Asia to right here in Los Angeles. As more businesses have begun to open back up, the inviting aroma of Just Good Food fills the air at almost every turn.

As someone that moved to Ktown only a few weeks before California locked down in May 2020, here are a few places I’ve enjoyed in my neighborhood this past year.

For A Group Of People (Or One Very Determined One)

For A Group Of People (Or One Very Determined One)

Sun Nong Dan

3470 W 6th St #7, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Sun Nong Dan is famous for their galbi jjim: braised short ribs in a spicy sauce. It is presented as a mountain of food on a huge sizzling stone platter almost bubbling over. Mixed in with the meat are onions, carrots, potatoes, and rice cakes. If you order it with cheese, your server will pepper a heaping handful on top and torch it tableside. It’s garlicky, cheesy, spicy, tender, and crispy. It’s definitely an experience.

Korean Barbeque Chicken

bb.q Chicken

3450 W 6th St #102, Los Angeles, CA 90020
bb.q Chicken is a chain from South Korea, popularized by their exceptional product placement strategy in several popular Korean Dramas. The fried chicken of any flavor is juicy, flavorful, and manages to remain fresh and crunchy for a long time.

Street Food

Myungrang Hot Dog

450 S Western Ave Ste #313, Los Angeles, CA 90020
A Korean street corndog is a hotdog, mozzarella stick, or ½ and ½ wrapped in a rice flour batter and fried. You’re able to customize your hotdog as you like, with a choice of 5 sauces and 3 seasonings. There’s just something so special about biting into one and stretching to get one decadent, springy cheese pull.

Noodles

Saikai Ramen Bar

209 N Western Ave # B, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Saikai embodies the term “chef-driven.” Every single food item I’ve had there has been perfectly balanced, seasoned, and perceptibly made with care. Their ramen is the best in Ktown: flawlessly flavorful and rich without being too heavy, their Japanese-style bento boxes are meticulously artful, and their shrimp katsu sandwich is one of my favorite unique quick bites in town.

Hot Pot

Shabuya

1925 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006
Pre-pandemic, Shabuya boasted one of the largest and extensive all you can eat buffet bars in the neighborhood and although they are currently not offering the buffet, their a la carte list of options is still just as impressive. If you’re still hesitant about dining out, Shabuya has always offered separate broths for each diner and in their outdoor dining area, the tables leave enough room for social distancing and space to load up on meats and vegetables.

Korean Barbeque

Park’s BBQ

955 S Vermont Ave G, Los Angeles, CA 90006z
Park’s is well-known to be the spot for high-end KBBQ. The quality of both the meats and banchan (side dishes) are unrivaled. Bring a few friends and order any of the combos so you can try everything!

Hae Jang Chon

3821 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
For all you can eat KBBQ, Hae Jang Chon has everything: great atmosphere, a wide selection of proteins (16 total), and attentive service. If you dine indoors, the food is cooked in the middle of the table on a hot stone that creates a beautiful sear on all the meats. If you order kimchi fried rice at the end of your meal, the servers will cook it on the stone, mixing in the delightful little bits of meat and fat left over. It has remained extremely popular, so be prepared to wait 2-3 hours during dinner.

Tea

Yi Fang Taiwanese Tea House

3726 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
While you’re waiting for your table at Hae Jang Chon, walk over to Yi Fang for some Taiwanese tea! While plenty of the many tea houses in Ktown cater to sweet tooths, Yifang is for tea lovers. Yi Fang uses only natural sweeteners, all natural ingredients and source high quality tea and local fruit for their drinks. Get the Yi Fang fruit tea or any of their seasonal specials and top with cheese foam for a little extra happiness.

Dessert

Sul & Beans

621 S Western Ave #208-A, Los Angeles, CA 90005
Sul & Beans is my go-to for bingsu or Korean style shaved ice. You get soft layers of shaved ice in flavored condensed milk topped ice cream sundae-style with flavors like strawberry cheesecake, matcha, black sesame, taro, and fresh mango. The bingsu is large enough to share with one or two more people.