3185 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown
It’s traditionally a summertime dish in Korea, but in LA’s climate, mool naeng myun—chilled noodle soup—can be eaten any time of year. Coming to Yuchun is a truly authentic experience (you probably won’t hear English spoken by anyone, including staff), but the menu—as at so many places in K-town—is easily decipherable through clear photos and descriptions. Go with a classic, chic mui naeng myun, served with sliced beef, cucumbers, pickled zucchini, and chili paste in an almost icy broth.
Buil Samgye Tang
859 S Western Ave, Koreatown
Samgyetang is the Korean version of homemade chicken soup (according to folklore, a better remedy than any medicine), and Buil Samgye Tang, in a tiny strip mall space, serves the best samgyetang this side—or any side—of Seoul. The restaurant stuffs a whole chicken with fresh ginseng, sticky rice, garlic, sweet potato, green onions, and herbs. After our first bowl here, we knew we were probably ruined for any other chicken soup.
698 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown
Since 1985, Kobawoo has been the place in Koreatown for bossam, a favorite of newbies to Korean food (it’s a make-your-own dish that lets you control the level of spiciness), consisting of thinly sliced pork belly wrapped in Napa cabbage leaves. There are optional additions, like kimchi, chili peppers, and pickled daikon, to mix and match until you create the perfect bite.
Dong Il Jang
3455 W. 8th St., Koreatown
With dim lighting, red vinyl booths, Formica tables, and antique-style Korean scripture wallpaper, the atmosphere at Dong Il Jang feels like something out of a 1950s movie. It’s been around for decades, with pretty much the same menu the entire time—high-quality cuts of grilled brisket, short rib, and rib eye and addictive bowls of kimchi fried rice.
Eighth Street Soondae
2703 W. 8th St., Koreatown
Soondae isn’t for everyone. It’s a type of Korean sausage that’s a mixture of cow’s blood, sweet potato glass noodles, ground beef, and various vegetables, sliced and served with a side of offal (tongue, liver, and heart being the most popular). Eighth Street Soondae is the king of soondae in LA, and for those who are ready to take their next step in the world of Korean cuisine, this is the place to come. Like so many spots in the neighborhood, the strip mall location and bare-bones interior aren’t much to look at, but when you come here, you’re guaranteed to try something you haven’t before.
Jae Bu Do
474 N. Western Ave., Koreatown
Korean BBQ is most often associated with all manner and cuts of beef, but at Jae Bu Do, seafood takes over the grill. A spread of steamed lobster, giant clams, scallops, and prawns is cooked right at the table (fair warning: Your clothes will smell like smoke by the time you leave), all of it dipped in gochujang (melted butter). It’s open until 2 a.m., making it a good spot after a night of karaoke and cocktails.
Han Bat Shul Lung Tang
4163 W. 5th St., Koreatown
Bone broth (aka sullungtang) isn’t a trend in Korean cuisine; it is a staple of everyday life—and Han Bat serves one of our favorite versions. It’s also pretty much the only thing they serve—a testament to their dedication to this one dish, which is enhanced with brisket or offal, as well as scallions and dangmyeon (thin, clear noodles made from sweet potato starch). The restaurant itself is as bare-bones as can be, but service is quick and efficient.
3014 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown
Guelaguetza is the most authentic Oaxacan food you’ll find outside of Mexico. There, we said it. And it’s all thanks to its owners, Fernando Lopez and Maria Monterrubio, who brought their family recipes with them to LA—and have been faithful to those recipes since they opened their restaurant in 1994. Today, the couple’s children run the place, but the menu remains unchanged and includes Oaxacan classics like enmoladas (black mole chicken enchiladas served with queso fresco) and salsa de carne frita (pork ribs fried in a spicy tomato sauce served with rice and beans).
3551 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown
Part of a popular Seoul-based chain and located on the ground floor of an office building, Bon Juk is an ode to rice porridge, the ultimate Korean comfort food. Oversize photos of its various types hang on the wall, acting as a kind of communal menu, and feature popular iterations like chicken and ginseng, black sesame, and octopus and kimchi. On those rare chilly LA days, this is the place to come for a warming, satisfying—utterly Korean—meal.
Beverly Soon Tofu
2717 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown
One of the beauties of Koreatown is the number of restaurants that do one thing and do it really well. For over three decades, the masters of soondubu (a spicy, fire-engine-red soup) at Beverly Soon Tofu have perfected their take on this Korean staple. The menu offers ten soondubu flavors, including barbecued galbi, bulgogi, spicy chicken, squid, and tofu steak, but dress lightly—they all come in a stone pot with veggies and a chili-flavored broth that’s almost guaranteed to make you sweat.
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