Koreatown is a densely populated district in Los Angeles, with a predominantly Korean-American population and a growing Latino one. Culinary inspiration comes from all walks of life in Koreatown, drawing on the diverse cultures and histories to create Koreatown’s vibrant atmosphere.
The Bun Shop
The Bun Shop is home to a highly satisfying and creative bao buns. Go during Happy Hour and take advantage of some of their great deals. Order the Pork Belly Bun and the Kalbi Bun: the Pork Belly Bun has some of the best pork belly along with pickled vegetables, pickled greens, cucumber and an Asian BBQ sauce, and the Kalbi is an artisanal combination of perfectly seasoned beef, tempura onion, mixed greens, and a spicy aioli.
Beer Belly, Los Angeles | Photo courtesy of Angel City Brewery
Beer Belly is located in the heart of Koreatown. The food is very rich: the Death by Duck, which features duck fat fries, duck skin ‘cracklins’ and duck confit goes perfectly with of the 12 brews on tap. Aside from the amazing food, one thing that makes this restaurant great is its rotating beer selection.
The Original Ramen Burger serves the best burgers in town. The hand-made ramen buns are an incredibly innovative creation, replacing the traditional bread of a hamburger with noodles. In between the two ramen buns you’ll find scallions, a secret shoyu sauce, Angus beef and arugula. This takeout only venue is sure to satisfy any late-night craving.
Known by regulars for its great service, Bulrocho is a great restaurant for its food and atmosphere. It specializes in Korean style goat dishes, which consist of incredibly tender meat accompanied by mixed vegetables in a simple but delicious broth. It’s open until 2 in the morning, so head on over after last call to grab the best goat meat soup in town.
Located at the Line Hotel, Pot is home to some of the most Koreatown inspired cuisine in the neighborhood. The Tailgate, a delicious combination of oxtail, broth, soy sauce and rice, is sure to delight your senses, and if you’re in the mood for one of the highly recommended pots, try the The Kimchi Jigae (pork belly, kimchi, and rice cakes). Bring a friend or two as a large variety of the orders come in a large stew-style cauldron heated in the center of the table perfect for sharing.
El Cholo is an authentic Mexican restaurant established in 1927 that delivers in terms of taste and quality. Treat yourself to the Chile con Carne and a little piece of history, as the original stove used is still on display in the front lobby.
If you’re craving great traditional Korean food at an affordable price, look no further than Chunju Han-il Kwan. The restaurant itself is small and quaint with a nice homey atmosphere but there is nothing small or quaint about the quality of the food served here. Order the Spicy Crab Stew or the classic Budae Jjigae, a type of stew that became popular out of necessity during a time of food scarcity following the Korean War. To accompany your meal, partake in the large variety of banchan, or small side dishes, available at this restaurant.
Hodori is a small Koreatown restaurant full of traditio, from the food to the atmosphere. The Kimchi Fried Rice is lauded for its flavor. This restaurant never closes making it the perfect late night food spot.
Renowned by locals as one of the best places in town to get a great bowl of soon tofu and immortalized by the ‘Koreatown’ episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, Beverly Soon Tofu has made its mark on Koreatown not only locally but internationally too. Soon in Korean means ‘soft,’ so the restaurant’s name essentially means ‘soft tofu.’ The delicious tofu is accompanied by all kinds of things like beef, pork, and seafood. It also comes in a variety of levels of spiciness depending on your heat tolerance, ranging from mild to melt-your-taste-buds hot. Beverly Soon Tofu also serves a range of other traditional Korean dishes.
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is part of the Seoul-based chain owned by comedian and former wrestler Kang Ho Dong but this Korean BBQ restaurant is no joke. Filled with crowds under the haze of the smoke created by cooking a variety of meats and vegetables at each individual table, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong sets itself up to be one of the best restaurants in Koreatown based on environment alone. The food is delicious: enjoy the banchan to start and then let the beautifully marbled cuts of Prime Kalbi take you to food paradise.