2881 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown
Memory Look has good coffee and a big outdoor patio that’s great if you need to post up with a laptop for a while. The space doubles as the flagship store for their in-house sunglasses brand, too. The pastries are skippable; come for a matcha einspanner.
3033 W. 6th St., Koreatown
This coffee shop only has a couple seats, so it’s best for grab-and-go. The strawberry milk matcha is exceptional.
Dan Sung Sa
3317 W. 6th St., Koreatown
Step into this Korean tavern in a 6th Street strip mall around dinner time, and it’s an excellent spot for spicy tteokbokki, skewers, and soju. Dan Sung Sa is open late every night, and as the evening moves on the crowd gets spirited, and certainly boozy.
Kae Sung Market
1010 S. St. Andrews Pl., Koreatown
The tendency to romanticize the food cooked by our grandmothers runs through every culture, and Korean culture is no exception. At Kae Sung Market, an actual grandmother, Sook Jae Cho, spends her days brining and fermenting the vegetables that make up her kimchi, famous among in-the-know neighborhood locals. Cho has been living in LA. for over forty years and started selling her homemade kimchi as a side business in the ’80s. (The mart is named for her North Korean hometown, Kae Sung.) This side hustle has turned into a full-day market, and on any given day there are up to ten kinds of kimchi on offer, including kosher and vegan-friendly varieties. The signage is entirely in Korean, so look out for the yellow storefront on the corner of St. Andrew’s Place and West Olympic, or just ask a bystander—chances are anyone you ask in the area will know how to get there.
730 S. Western Ave., Koreatown
This comic book store—hidden at the top of a strip mall stairwell—consists of two rooms of floor-to-ceiling shelves tightly packed with Korean comics, manga, and graphic novels. The difference here is that you rent—not buy—what you read, and for fifteen bucks, you’re free to browse the archive and settle into one of the comfy leather sofas for an entire day (beverages and Korean shrimp crackers included), or check out a few comics to take home, like a lending library. It’s entirely normal (and encouraged) for people to set up shop for an afternoon, their feet on the table, a stack of comics—and a refreshment—by their side.
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.
Jeon Ju (Closed)
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.
Toe Bang Cafe
3465 W. 6th St., Koretown
This lively, dive-y K-town bar is a popular spot when you’re waiting for a table at a nearby restaurant, like Quarters or Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong. But it’s also a worthy destination in itself for its soju-based cocktails (we’re partial to the mango and lychee flavors), the fun hip-hop playlist, and bar snacks like kimchi pancakes, bulgogi cabbage wraps, and scallop skewers. Sports fans can watch Lakers and Dodgers games on the big-screen TVs.
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.