Travel

Koreatown

Establishment neighborhood
Chong’s Sesame Oil
3560 W. 8th St., Koreatown
The taste of freshly pressed sesame oil is distinct—nutty, a little smoky, and deeply savory. The seeds for this particular oil come from El Salvador, and the owner (simply known as Mr. Chong) roasts and presses them himself. Add a splash of it in dressings and stir-fries and you’ll never go back to the mass-produced stuff again. Like many of Koreatown’s gems, Chong’s is hidden (it’s behind Pollo Alla Brasa). It’s the best sesame oil you’ll find in Los Angeles.
Poketo
3513 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown
Poketo founders Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung—partners in business and in life—have a whimsical aesthetic that’s all their own, and their shop in the Line Hotel explodes with color and a sense of playfulness. We’re usually tempted by everything here, whether it’s the beautifully illustrated notebooks, a stack of richly patterned textiles, or a set of quirky ceramic mugs. It’s clear that much thought has gone into the store’s curation, but at the same time, nothing is taken too seriously, and you can sense the joy Vadakan and Myung must have had finding everything. We rarely leave empty-handed.
California Market
450 S. Western Ave., Koreatown
What was formerly called Gaju Marketplace has recently been remodeled into an incredibly vast food court and grocery store that’s a staple for the goop staffers who live in Koreatown. The banchan (small prepared sides like bean sprouts with sesame oil) are convenient to pick up for a light solo meal or for an impromptu dinner party. And because of the big Latino community that also lives within K-town, you’ll find the freshest avocados and papayas alongside daikon and jars of kimchi. The best part: the free, on-site, five-floor parking structure with panoramic views stretching from DTLA to Culver City.
Rose & Blanc Tea Room
301 S. Western Ave., Koreatown
A pause in the afternoon for a cup of tea is standard in many parts of the world, but drinking anything other than an iced beverage in LA is almost an anomaly. Rose & Blanc Tea Room is an exception, bringing a dose of international tea culture to Koreatown in a hyperfeminine blush-and-white setting. The tea menu is legit—French Palais des Thés, American Harney & Sons, as well as Rose & Blanc’s own blends (the Earl Grey rooibos is our favorite). Its version of afternoon tea runs more on the sweet side than the cucumber-sandwich side—imagine delicate macaroons, scones, and waffles with lavender syrup.
Amore Galleria
3250 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown
A shop well known for its customer service (ask for Irene—she's a K-town legend), Amore is freehanded with the samples, which is both fun and necessary, as the product choices are almost endless. Take full advantage of the staff’s extensive knowledge of the hundreds of serums, masks, creams, and cleansers lining the shelves. They will closely assess your skin before diving into the recommendations. Aside from getting the correct advice for your skin type, listening to the Amore staffers describe the products—and their intimate knowledge of those hyaluronic-acid-heavy snail secretions—is like receiving an intense K-beauty tutorial.
Crystal Spa
3500 W. 6th St., Koreatown
The thought of someone walking on your back as you lie facedown on the ground may not sound like fun, but once you’ve tried it here (and experienced the subsequent tension relief), it’s hard not to get addicted. Both the communal and private spaces are beautifully turned out, with staff giving full tours—and etiquette advice—for first-timers. After a rigorous body scrub where no patch of skin is left unbuffed, go for the intensely hydrating algae-and-green-tea body wrap. It’s rarely crowded here, which is a godsend for those looking to spend a full, uninterrupted afternoon or evening unwinding.
Aritaum
928 S. Western Ave., Koreatown
Aritaum is a K-Town beauty mecca. High-end Korean beauty brands that can be difficult to find elsewhere (like Sulwhasoo, Mamonde, and Hanyul) are plentiful at this cosmetics and skin-care store, with their fun, kitschy packaging and unusual ingredients, like snail secretions. It also stocks a big supply of sheet masks, including a popular rubber version from Dr. Jart+ that may look vaguely horror-movie-ish when you put it on but does a good job at reducing blemishes.
The Prince
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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