top 7 places to eat in
KOREATOWN, LOS ANGELES
Though I’m not directly from Los Angeles, I’ve been to Koreatown my entire life, normally on the weekends. Whether it was to watch a movie, go eat Korean food, or stop by the supermarket, I’d say I know some of the best places to eat when you’re in K-Town. This list only includes restaurants in K-Town, not chains (Myeongrang, Yupdduk, Sul & Beans). I’ve also included Yelp ratings and reviews for fun. Note that this list isn’t in any particular order.
1. 선농단 sun nong dan
갈비찜 galbi-jjim or braised short ribs
“The Galbi Jjim is what most people come here for.
This place surprisingly operates 24/7,
and has a quick waiting time.”
If you go here, you HAVE to get the Galbi-jjim with cheese. It comes out in this cauldron, I’d say it’s big enough for 2-3 people. If you don’t finish, you can get it to-go but it doesn’t taste as good. They blow torch the cheese for you and the first time the fire may come a little too close to your face, but it’s part of the experience.
The walls are full of autographs from Korean celebrities, so it has to be good. One time I saw Henry from Super Junior at this restaurant. He left halfway through the meal to go to a supermarket nearby and bought his own banchan. The banchan here isn’t plentiful, but it’s pretty good. I don’t think it’s bad enough for you to go buy your own, but Henry may have his reasons.
The galbi-jjim has rice cakes (떡)! They also have ox-bone soup (설렁탕). It’s alright.
The line can get pretty long, so make sure you write your name down as soon as you arrive. They ask for your order before you’re seated so you get your food relatively quickly. It smells pretty bad outside the restaurant, but I’m sure you’ve experienced similar smells in Berkeley already. It’s also open 24 hours!
2. 한밭 설렁탕 hanbat sullungtang
설렁탕 sullungtang or ox-bone soup
“I've been here countless times over the
past few years and was never disappointed.”
If you want good sullungtang, come here! I’ve been coming here since I was born and it’s good comfort food. They give you noodles if you ask. The employees are all ahjummas so it has to be good. And it is!
The entrance is lowkey shady like the rest of Koreatown. The door is in a parking lot and it’s hard to find but you can just follow the smell because the whole parking lot smells like sullungtang. There’s not much to say other than that it’s really good here.
This restaurant became popular with non-Korean people after the esteemed late Anthony Bourdain left a stellar review! Read more about his K-Town review here.
Another celeb story: Korean rapper Dok2 got his car robbed in this parking lot while he was in LA. His stuff was stolen because the robber smashed his window. Then again, it’s K-Town. Stay safe but enjoy some good sullungtang!
3. yellow house cafe
분식 bunsik or cheap korean food
“This is a hidden gem in Koreatown!”
The Yelp reviews alone show the range of foods that they have here, but they seriously have EVERYTHING. From ddeokbokki and kimbap to kimchi bacon pasta, their menu is endless. They also have desserts and typical cafe drinks! Apparently, they even have smores with marshmallows you can roast yourself. I’d invite you to explore the menu for yourself! I recommend the kimchi bacon pasta!
The restaurant is named accurately because the building itself is yellow. As for parking, they offer valet but parking in LA sucks so there’s not always a guarantee that they can squish your car in there. I’d suggest that you use the meter parking just across the street and walk over!
The restaurant itself doesn’t have indoor seating when you walk in; the servers will lead you to an outside patio! You can sit next to plants and enjoy the LA sunshine. If you want to sit inside, ask the servers and they’ll lead you to this secret indoor sitting area isolated from the patio. It’s not a secret but I only knew it existed after going there for years. I’ll admit the restaurant isn’t that nice in that it isn’t polished, but I think that’s a part of its charm.
They also have a gift shop of sorts where they sell clothes and Korean knickknacks. I don’t really know why it’s there but you can look at it while waiting for your food.
Lots of people also have their laptops out and are working on their work!
4. quarters korean bbq
“Quarters is the best KBBQ restaurant I've ever been to.
If you want good good KBBQ, just come to Quarters! The line is usually long but there’s an outdoor seating area where customers wait. Just keep this in mind because they are pretty packed. There’s also a full bar!
The combos that they provide on the menu makes it easy to order and the meat selections are amazing! They also offer a lot of banchans and all of them are good. I like the banchans here. They have a lot on their menu too! From what I remember, the servers come and cook your meat for you.
I’ll also include other KBBQ establishments.
Near Quarters is Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong (강호동 백정)! This is also a good restaurant but I prefer Quarters. But at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, you can look at funny posters of Kang Ho Dong as a cartoon that are plastered all over the restaurant. The difference between the seating of these two restaurants is that Kang Ho Dong has tables and tables with stools. Quarters only has booths, besides the bar.
There’s also Eight Korean BBQ! Here, they have 8 different flavors of pork belly (삼겹살)! They include original, curry, wine, garlic, herb, red pepper paste, to name a few. If you remove the cover of the seat cushions, you can store your stuff there. Ask for sesame oil with salt. Also, they make you kimchi fried rice at the end!
Anyway, you can count on Quarters for good KBBQ and you should definitely visit.
5. 와코 돈가스 wako donkasu
돈가스 donkatsu or pork cutlet
“The crispiness of these things is just inspiring.
Have you ever bit into the perfectly breaded donkatsu
WELL NOW YOU CAN.”
I’ve also been coming here since I was little. You can count on Wako for some good donkatsu. Not sure why their official name is spelled wrong, but we can just ignore that.
This restaurant is also located in the heart of Koreatown! Nearby are popular Korean shopping malls in LA, like Galleria or Koreatown Plaza. Also nearby is 김스전기 or Kim’s Home Store which is a Korean department store kinda? I’ve been going there since I was born and it has literally anything you could want.
While you’re waiting for your food, the servers also give you a bowl of sesame seeds for you to grind yourself with this wooden stick thingy they give you.
It’s one for each meal so you can have fun doing that while they make your food!
They also serve cheese katsu, udon, and soba!
6. young king
탕수육&짜장면 korean-chinese food
“Arguably one of the best Korean-Chinese
restaurants in town.”
I’ve said this a lot, but again, I’ve been coming here since I was born. It was also my grandpa’s favorite restaurant. It’s a classic and authentic Korean-Chinese restaurant and they have anything you could want that falls under this umbrella term. Jjajangmyeon 짜장면 (black bean noodles), tangsuyuk 탕수육 (fried pork), Mongolian beef, jjambbong 짬뽕 (spicy seafood soup), dumplings, and more!
Looking at the reviews, it seems a lot of people have been coming here for years and years. I think that proves how good the restaurant is!
In the words of a Yelper, long live Young King!
7. mister bossam
보쌈 bossam or boiled pork
“I would 10/10 recommend if anyone is
craving some cheesy Korean food or traditional boiled pork!”
Mister Bossam is the place to go in Koreatown.
The bossam is offered in multiple flavors and all of them are good. Solid place.
Also, the kimchi fried rice at the end is to die for.
The servers also cut the meat for you if you get the grilled cheese fire baby pork ribs dish (LA 불 치즈 등갈비)! This dish is also to die for.
Unlike most places in LA, it’s actually really easy to park here. The servers are always amazingly nice! There is an outdoor patio as well as an inside seating area. Go with your friends and have a good time!
I could go on, but here was a list of some of my favorite restaurants in K-Town! Go check them out with your friends and go to karaoke or eat patbingsoo afterwards :)