Yuk Dae Jang
3033 W. 6th St., Koreatown
Yukgaejang is a spicy, rich Korean soup made with brisket, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and scallions in bone broth, and it’s been perfected at this small, no-frills spot. The menu is limited (printed on a single laminated sheet with pictures), featuring just a few variations of yukgaejang (original, with noodles, or with tofu), as well as handmade steamed pork dumplings, pork belly with a side of kimchi, and cold buckwheat noodle soup.
2716 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown
If you’re familiar with one Korean dish, it’s likely bibimbap—a mixture of rice, sautéed vegetables, fermented chili paste, and, occasionally, sliced meat, topped with a fried egg. Jeon Ju specializes in dolsot bibimbap, a variation served in a hot stone pot that adds a whole other flavor dimension to the meal, with a smoky, crispy bottom layer of rice formed from the additional heat.
955 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown
This is the gold standard of Korean BBQ in this city. The original Parks, in Seoul, is still going strong, and the LA outpost is similarly known for using prime cuts of meat (including American Wagyu and Kobe-style beef) and some of the best-quality banchan—the complimentary small dishes like kimchi, bean sprouts, and soy-brushed lotus root that arrive before your meal—you’ll ever try.
3833 W. 6th St., Koreatown
Incredibly crispy, garlicky, yet not-greasy fried chicken is the specialty at this low-key strip mall spot that was the center of the Korean fried chicken craze a few years ago. The secret lies in the double-fry technique KyoChon uses, but for us, it’s the sauces that really put it at the top of our K-town list. The three choices include honey, hot and sweet, and (our favorite) soy garlic.
Hangari Bajirak Kalguksu
3470 W. 6th St., Koreatown
A hearty, rich noodle soup in chicken stock, dak kalguksu is a Korean comfort food that’s perfected at this bright, airy restaurant. The steaming bowls are flavored with garlic and onions and thickened with potatoes. Protein options include Manila clams, crab, and game hen, and each order comes with sides of radish and cabbage kimchi. Be aware that wait times can be long here, especially during cool weather, when people feel like warming up with something nourishing and hot.
3435 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown
Bulgogi is one of the most ordered dishes by visitors who come to eat in Koreatown, and Gwang Yang serves a version that’s been three generations in the making. A family-owned restaurant founded in Korea, this is the only US location. The marinated, thin, barbecued slices of beef are perfectly smoky and tender and usually accompanied by a variety of side dishes, like bibim naengmyeon (Korean cold noodles in a chilled beef broth) and crisp kimchi pancakes.
Eight Korean BBQ
863 S. Western Ave., Koreatown
The grilled pork belly is the thing to order here—and there eight kinds to choose from. You’ll find variations including black sesame, curry, garlic, and miso, as well as steaming bowls of kimchi stew, spicy buckwheat noodles, and stir-fries. The space is bright and airy, with a slightly industrial vibe (polished concrete floors, super high ceilings) that creates a feeling of breathing room from the smoke at other tables.
BCD Tofu House
3575 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown
When Korean-American chef Roy Choi decided to go vegetarian a few years ago, he named this place as one of his go-to restaurants in K-Town for its vegetable soon tofu. It’s a spicy, bubbling stew full of squash, mushrooms, broccoli, and onions, served in a traditional Korean earthenware bowl. In a neighborhood that prides itself on its BBQ dishes, BCD Tofu acts as the perfect meeting ground for both bulgogi fans and vegans.
Here’s Looking at You
3901 W. 6th St., Koreatown
If we could recommend only one dish here, it'd be the tomatoes: juicy, deep-red Momotaro tomatoes sliced fresh, served with crème fraîche, and topped with candy-like crispy fried Chinese sausage. The dish is unexpected and indulgent. It's also what co-owner Lien Ta says keeps her regulars coming weekly. But in truth, every item on the menu is worth ordering—we’re suckers for the crispy, umami-esque Brussels sprouts finished with a savory, smoky miso sesame sauce and the hot shishito peppers perfectly wilted and charred atop a creamy tonnato dip. Ta and co-owner and chef Jonathan Whitener (they met while working at Animal) serve an unparalleled seasonal menu that showcases flavors inspired by their favorite global foods and family recipes, including jerk spice, Asian fish sauce, coconut milk, and tamarind. The space is tiny and incredibly popular (make a reservation), but the servers are friendly and helpful and the cocktails are as incredible as they are inventive. (The pungent, sweet Arroyo Seco—a blended malt scotch kissed with raw buckwheat honey and bitters—is a goop favorite.)
3198 W. 7th St., Koreatown
Opened in the 1920s (originally as the Windsor), the Prince is a kind of time machine you visit for the atmosphere as much as the food. The entire place is swathed in crimson, including its leather banquettes and wallpaper, with stained-glass windows and oil portraits that give it an old-school gentlemen’s club vibe. It’s no wonder the Prince is a popular film location (it appeared in the 1974 film Chinatown, as well as several episodes of Mad Men), and the food is great. The specialty is Korean-style fried chicken, and the cocktails (margaritas, kamikazes, Midori sours) aren’t anything groundbreaking but are strong and expertly made.
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