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The Best Restaurants In Koreatown

The 40 best restaurants in LA’s Koreatown.
The Best Restaurants In Koreatown image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

In terms of square miles, Koreatown is about the same size as nearby Silver Lake—but it feels 10 times as big. Every block is full of parking lots, bakeries, pawn shops, spas, and restaurants that are busy from morning to night.

We can’t really help you with the parking lots or pawn shops, but we can tell you where to eat and drink. Ktown is a vast, multi-cultural area that's filled with more than just great Korean restaurants. You'll find classic Peruvian rotisseries with walls of glistening chicken, Oaxacan institutions serving mole samplers and mezcal flights, and a Japanese restaurant where burgers are grilled on your own personal hot stone. This guide reflects the diversity of the area—while also highlighting each spot’s specialty so you know exactly what to order. These are the 40 spots that you should prioritize in Koreatown.

Looking for Korean BBQ? We've got a guide for that.

THE SPOTS

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Korean

Koreatown

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good BeerLate Night EatsWalk-Ins
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Specialties: Dakbal

When your friends demand hot food and cold beer ASAP, Hanshin Pocha is there to make your life much easier. This high-energy pub is located on the third floor of the City Center on 6th, and while the place doesn’t take reservations, walk-ins are super easy here. Roll up with your hungry/thirsty crew, snack on Korean fried chicken and crispy pork pancakes, and put on the provided gloves to eat some spicy chicken feet. The fatty, silky chicken bits come right off the bone, the sauce is bubbling hot, and it’s all very spicy, so hopefully everyone is comfortable with getting sweaty in public. Consider it a bonding experience disguised as a fun night of drinking and eating.

Specialties: Galbi Jjim With Cheese, Ox Bone Soup

This fluorescent-lit strip mall spot on 6th Street is open until 1:30am every day. But regardless of when you arrive, you’ll see groups huddled around massive cauldrons of galbi jjim—huge cast iron cauldrons filled with spicy, tender short rib, rice cakes, and vegetables in a red galbi sauce. Order it with cheese on top, and they’ll blowtorch it at your table until it’s melted and bubbly. Beyond this incredible plate of meat, the soups are also worth your time. Order our favorite, the oxtail with brisket - you’ll thank us later when you’re stumbling out of Toe Bang at 1am, but still have energy for karaoke. There is now a second location on Western Ave. that's open 24 hours.

photo credit: Pigya

$$$$Perfect For:Big Groups

Specialties: Pork BBQ

KBBQ at Pigya is not for the “kind of hungry” or anyone who loves sweet little Piglet. At this big, rowdy restaurant, domed grills sizzle with brick-sized pork belly, fatty pork cheek, and heaping piles of kimchi. Even though this spot is pork-centric, the $98 pork gyu combo that includes beef is the way to go. It comes with beef short rib and a silky, yuzu-drench carpaccio that’s the refreshing bite you want after eating jumbo bacon. The staff handles the grilling and courses out your feast, too, which ends with a mound of kimchi fried rice and spicy hangover ramen.

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Specialties: Hokkaido Scallops, Truffle Kimchi Fried Rice, Rosé Tteokbokki 

Tokki is ideally located for a semi-rowdy dinner before heading to The Wiltern, Dynasty Typewriter, or many great karaoke bars. The lively dining inside Chapman Plaza is sleek and modern with green vines and Edison bulbs hanging from the ceiling. That said, don’t mistake it for a generic Arts District restaurant—Tokki is singular. Whether you're there for a casual date or a big group dinner with friends, expect to drink things like sake martinis emulsified with Korean pears and snack on tteokbokki in rosé gochujang, raw scallops dipped in hot brown butter, and a truffle kimchi fried rice with bulgogi that arrives to the table so pristine, you’ll wonder if you should even eat it. Don’t worry, you should.

Specialties: Barley Rice Set

Whenever we finish eating creamy pumpkin soup and pickle-y banchan at Borit Gogae, we feel like we might float back to our cars. The food is a probiotic paradise, and the restaurant plays calming music that could very well lull you to sleep after your cup of cinnamon punch. Order the barley rice set for $30 per person, which comes with a bowl of barley rice, a spread of banchan suited for royalty, and three kinds of soups (scorched rice, pumpkin, and creamy perilla seed with chunks of tender chicken). Just when you think the banchan will stop coming, the servers start layering bowls of sea snails, acorn jelly, and pickled radish on top of each other like stacking cups.

Specialties: Bossam, Haemul Pajeon

Open since 1985, Kobawoo is a Koreatown staple, and home to our favorite plate of bossam in the neighborhood. With big, wooden booths and clean lines everywhere, Kobawoo’s interior is a little upscale, and ideal for a date. That said, if you’re flying solo and don’t want to eat a giant $45 plate of pork belly yourself, they have a smaller lunch special for around $20.

Specialties: Hyderbadi Biriyani, Lamb Shank Curry, Saag Paneer

Located in the greater Koreatown area, Biriyani Kabob House is technically part of Little Bangladesh, and it’s where you’ll find great Pakistani and Bangladeshi food on 3rd St. in a small, low-key dining room that always has an empty table waiting. You’ll want the Hyderabadi lamb biriyani, an aromatic plate of basmati rice laced with spices that comes with lamb shank the size of a football. Rich curries, scented with cardamom, turmeric, and ginger, arrive with pillowy, house-baked naan. A satisfying meal here should include a healthy mix of saag paneer, chicken tikka, and any of the owner’s favorite biriyanis (ask for recommendations).

Specialties: Soondubu 

There are lots of places to get spicy, bubbling cauldrons of soondubu in Koreatown, but Surawon is the best of them, especially now that Beverly Soon Tofu is no more. They make all of their tofu totally organically in-house, and for $1 more, you can upgrade to black soybean tofu which is a little nutty and super savory. Come by with someone you love on a cold night, order some soju and a couple of soondubu combos, and be sure to include a seafood kimchi pancake (here, they’re loaded with veggies and squid). Surawon is a go-to on cold LA days. 

Specialties: Cha Chiang Mein, Tangsuyuk

Young King serves fantastic Korean-Chinese food, and there are a couple of classics here that deserve your attention: the cha chiang mein (noodles in caramelized black bean sauce) and the tangsuyuk (crispy fried pork with sweet and sour sauce on the side). The black bean noodles are sweet, salty, and spicy all at the same time, and the pork—even though it’s breaded and fried—is somehow also very light. On weekends, Young King fills up with families eating dinner, so you might have to wait a bit, but you can walk right in on weekdays.

Specialties: Festival de Moles, Queso Fundido, Tlayuda Guelaguetza

A meal at Guelaguetza, a Oaxacan institution, involves multiple types of mole, tlayudas, and big plates of meat. All of it is phenomenal and best when shared. With its massive space and live music, it’s a great spot for a big group dinner or for entertaining out-of-towners dead set on drinking as much mezcal as their bodies will allow. Also, don’t forget to order some queso fundido—it’ll ruin every other queso you’ve ever had.

Specialties: Focaccia, Agnolotti, Ice Cream

If you speak Italian, Antico Nuovo is literally new Antico—a much-improved version of the rustic Italian spot that opened between Larchmont and Ktown in 2019. Antico 2.0 is a charming little restaurant that’s great for nice dates or intimate dinners with your closest friends. Sit at the bar and you’ll enjoy views of pasta twirling, scorching hot pizzas pulled out of the oven, and the expeditor carefully inspecting every plate with the concentration of a jewel appraiser. There’s not a bad dish on here. Focaccia is mattress-thick and drenched in olive oil, while home-style agnolotti comes pinched around the edges and stuffed with beef cheeks and pancetta. If you don’t order ice cream at the end, return ASAP.

photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto

$$$$Perfect For:Dining SoloQuick Eats

Specialties: Dolsot Bibimbap

Gamja Bawi is a tiny stall inside the Koreatown Plaza mall. With neon signage, light-up elevators, and synchronized fountains, this mall food court is a sensory ‘80s dreamland, and it’s where you should make sure a sizzling stone bowl of Gamja Bawi’s dolsot bibimbap hits your table. Each serving is layered with rice and vegetables and a fried egg, then topped with a choice of protein like beef or mixed seafood, all complemented by a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce. The best part of the meal comes at the end, when you get to scrape off the thin layer of crunchy rice that’s been slowly crisping at the bottom, and mix it with whatever’s left in the bowl.

Specialties: Garlic Chicken Pizza, Mascarpone Pizza

Thanks Pizza reminds us of the kind of pies we devoured as kids at skate rink birthday parties: affordable, personal pan-style ones, only now they’re topped with unexpected combinations of high-brow ingredients. The garlic chicken pizza is a little spicy with a sweet, pungent kick from the blue cheese, and the mascarpone pizza—topped with basil pesto, cream cheese, and yes, mascarpone—is sweet, tangy, and herbaceous, and somehow feels both nostalgic and novel at the same time. Each pizza is available in two sizes, 9- or 12-inch, and everything on the menu costs less than $25.

Specialties: Cheeseburger, Patty Melt, Banana Cream Pie

When it closed a few years ago after a 65-year run, we worried this classic burger spot was gone for good. But Cassell’s is back and better than ever, rebooted inside a retro diner space on the ground floor of the Hotel Normandie. The cheeseburger will always be the go-to order here, but if the patty melt doesn’t hit the table at some point, you’ve made a huge mistake. Also, a slice of banana cream pie is exactly what you want after a long night out in Ktown.

Specialties: Pork Spare Ribs, Pork Neck Stew

Ham Ji Park is a rowdy and always crowded BBQ restaurant in the heart of the action on 6th Street, but unlike other grill-your-own-meat spots in the area, the two things you’ll find on every table are prepared in the kitchen: the pork ribs and the pork neck stew. That might seem like a lot of pork in one sitting, but the sweet and spiciness of the ribs complement the fragrant stew perfectly. Portion sizes for both dishes are borderline insane, so bring a few friends, or else you’re going to be carrying leftovers to the bars afterward.

Specialties: Kimchi Pancake, Spicy Chicken Wings

There’s really nothing quite like Dan Sung Sa at midnight on a Saturday. The dark, all-wood tavern is jam-packed, the smoke from the central grill fills every corner, and everyone is drinking soju like it’s the last batch in the world. In short, it’s a chaotic dreamscape and one of our favorite late-night spots in the city. The large menu is full of skewers, scallion pancakes, and other classic Korean bar food, and all of it is exactly what your body needs to soak up an evening’s worth of alcohol. A word of advice: When they say ”spicy,” they mean it.

Specialities: Black Cod, Galbi Jjim

You’ll find banchan at most Korean restaurants in Koreatown, but Soban goes beyond. There are 16 different side dishes here, from vinegar-y lotus root and shishitos to excellent boiled potatoes. When it comes to main courses, the black cod is the specialty—it’s slow-braised, and comes with a spicy red sauce and radishes. It’s very good, but we like the simple, pleasantly salty short rib galbi jjim stew more.

Specialities: Duck BBQ

Sun Ha Jang really only serves one thing: duck, three different ways. We prefer the sliced breast option, which the servers bring out on a giant platter and cook in the pan on your table. Add marinated onion, radish, and lettuce, then dip it in sesame oil and salt, and you’ve built your own duck salad. And rather than tossing the rendered duck fat in the pan, they use it to cook rice and kimchi, for an incredible (and heavy) ending to the meal.

Specialties: Tokyo Original Hamburg, Okonomiyaki, Curry Udon

There’s no shortage of fun group dinner spots in Koreatown, but Tokyo Hamburg is unique. This rowdy Japanese restaurant feels like a party from the moment you walk in—pop music blasts over the speakers, beer and sake are being chugged at a Friday night pace (even if it’s Tuesday), and the smell of burger patties sizzles on individual stone grills. It’s basically a DIY smash burger situation, and though it seems a bit gimmicky, the meat itself is fantastic and exactly what you want to be putting into your body before a long night of drinking.

Specialties: Dak Galbi

Mapo Galbi is a quiet restaurant on the outskirts of Ktown where you’ll find one of our favorite dishes in the neighborhood, dak galbi. A simple dish of chicken, vegetables, and rice noodles stir-fried in a spicy sauce at your table, the flavors are so intense and complex that you’ll take breaks throughout the meal to permanently ingrain this moment into your mind. Then comes the second course—which involves a heaping pile of nori-topped white rice that’s smashed onto the same grill and cooked until it’s crispy. Correction: Mapo Galbi has two of our favorite dishes in Ktown.

Specialities: Raw Crab and Shrimp, Sul Lung Tang

The raw crab combo at Master Ha is a truly unique dish, with marinated raw crab served over rice plus a raw quail egg. You’ll mix it all up, wrap it in nori with some pickled vegetables, and end up with what is basically a really great crab handroll. If you’re here for lunch, you’ll see some of these crab dishes, but mostly, people are eating the sul lung tang, a dense, rich soup made from oxtail bones that's very good on a cooler day (or, more likely, if you’re hungover).

Specialties: Gopchang, Skirt Steak, Steamed Egg

For many people, the smoky, rowdy atmosphere is half the fun of Korean BBQ. If you’re one of those people, go to Ahgassi. The massive BBQ restaurant on 6th Street has hour-long waits most nights of the week, but just know you’re lining up for some of the finest cuts of meat in the neighborhood - get the skirt steak, marinated short rib, and the house specialty large intestine. You’ll also get a free steamed egg dish with your food, but plan to order several more for the table.

Specialties: Spicy Cold Noodles, Kalguksu

Myung Dong Kyoja’s large dining room is filled with a mix of large groups of coworkers, tables full of old friends glaring at each other, and solo lunchers just trying to find some peace. But everyone’s eating soup. When it’s hot out, try the spicy cold, chewy wheat noodles mixed in a spicy sauce with vegetables, but when you need some comfort, get the kalguksu with ground chicken, and pork dumplings in a thick chicken broth.

photo credit: Krystal Thompson

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdays

Specialties: Beef Skirt Meat, Marinated Boneless Short Rib, Kimchi Stew

This KBBQ spot strikes the balance between the rowdiness of Aghassi and the top-end prices of Park’s. Skip the combo platters and instead order a la carte. We’ve found that you get better cuts of meat for the same amount of money. Focus on the marinated beef options and then add in any pork dish that catches your eye. Do your best to not fill up on the banchan. It’s some of our favorite in the neighborhood.

Specialties: 8-Course Prix Fixe

If you’ve ever stumbled past Le Comptoir’s big windows on a soju-drenched night in Ktown, you probably assumed it was some sort of test kitchen or exclusive pop-up spot. And it is, but it also isn’t. This tiny $175 prix-fixe restaurant serves dishes sourced from an urban garden in Long Beach and has a cozy, dinner-party atmosphere, which is great, because you’d never be able to host a party with food this good.

Specialties: Combo Platters

Plain and simple, Parks BBQ is the gold standard of Korean BBQ in Los Angeles. Sure, it might not have the atmosphere of other popular spots, and you’re definitely going to spend some money here, but when it comes to the quality of meat, Parks can’t be topped. The large menu can be simplified by ordering one of the combo platters (listed as P1-P3), which will commence a food parade of meats like bulgogi, short rib, and rib-eye, along with all the necessary banchan. Reservations are mandatory, especially on weekends.

Specialities: Grilled Cheesy Pork Ribs

An ordinary-looking spot on Western serving truly unique food, Mister Bossam specializes in grilled pork ribs with cheese. Your server will cut up the spicy pork at your table and mix it into a big hot platter with mozzarella cheese. This is by no means light food, but the steamed egg and corn on the side help balance out the heavy meat and cheese. At the end of the meal, the server will come by and make fried rice with whatever’s left on your plate, so save room. One platter is more than enough for two or three people. And if you’re with a group, add an order of the huge garlic bossam.

Specialties: Honey Fried Chicken

The name of this loud, mostly-outdoor bar/restaurant roughly translates to “butthole,” so you can probably guess that anything goes here. On weekend nights, it’s packed with people drinking towers of Hite and snacking on delicious Korean bar food. It’s a great place for a group dinner before a night out, since the kimchi seafood pancakes and honey-fried chicken are perfect before a long night of drinking. The patio is definitely smokey (you’re allowed to smoke, and everyone does it), so if you’re cool with that, this is the ideal place to start—or end—a night.

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Specialties: Chic Mul Naengmyeon, Kimchi Dumplings

When the temperature in LA does that thing where it’s 88 degrees every day for three months straight, go to Yu Chun. The bare-bones diner on Olympic has a menu full of different soups, dumplings, and galbi platters, but everyone here is eating the naengmyeon in silence. It’s a giant, refreshing bowl of cold kudzu noodles (cut with scissors by the server) chilling in an icy, vinegary broth filled with boiled beef, radishes, and sesame seeds. If you’re looking to add a little heat, there’s spicy mustard on the table.

Specialties: Chicken Burger, Gang Jung

Michin Dak is a freestanding fried chicken shed in the parking lot of a strip mall that makes delicious wings, tenders, gang jung (Korean-style popcorn chicken), and a chicken burger. You order at an iPad and choose your spice level, which ranges from original to “blood sweat and tears” spicy. The burger at “hot”-level spice is great, even if you might need to blow your nose between bites.

Specialties: Chadol Baegi

With granite tabletops, koi ponds, and a huge outdoor patio that kind of feels like you’re in a rainforest, Chosun Galbee is one of the more upscale restaurants in Koreatown. That means higher prices - but also high-quality cuts of meat and enough room to fit parties of 10 or more. Also, they have one of the only full bars in the area, which is ideal for your roommate who only drinks tequila.

Specialties: Kalguksu

Hangari is a soup spot that specializes in kalguksu, soup with knife-cut noodles, and a sign on the wall proudly proclaims that they use gluten in just about everything they make. It’s right next to Sun Nong Dan, so if you’re too hungry to wait in that line, go here instead. The noodles are so good, they even stand out in the spicy seafood soup - which is loaded with crab, mussels, shrimp, and vegetables. If you’re looking for something lighter, or it’s 95 degrees out, the cold soup with pork is also worth your time.

Specialties: Wang Mandu, Gun Mandu

Myung In serves massive Korean dumplings in a strip mall storefront. The space is crammed with people eating wang mandu—steamed, softball-sized dumplings stuffed with kimchi and pork. There are four to an order, which is enough to fill you up if you’re grabbing a quick solo lunch. But it’s best to come with a group so you can try the shrimp and vegetable dumpling soup, and some pork and shrimp pan-fried dumplings (gun mandu).

Specialties: Pork Gukbap

People are here for one thing: gukbap, a clear pork-broth soup that comes mostly unseasoned, but with a big spread of banchan like kimchi, salted shrimp, and thinly sliced pork belly that you can add to kick it up. At lunchtime, older couples and people who work nearby fill the tables in this little strip mall spot because it’s a tasty, affordable option in the neighborhood.

Specialties: BBQ

If you want a Korean BBQ spot with high-quality meat and a party atmosphere, but shorter wait times than Park’s or Baekjeong, go to Soowon Galbi. On a Friday night, you’ll see business dinners that involve multiple bottles of soju (per person), birthday celebrations, and going-away parties that probably result in some missed flights. It’s also more affordable than other places with meat this good—the Combo B is $160 and comes with enough beef and pork to feed a group of four.

Specialties: Rotisserie Chicken

Watching hundreds of golden chickens roasting on spits isn’t the only reason people go to Pollo A La Brasa, but it’s a big plus. The line of hungry people that stretches out onto Western is proof that this Peruvian-style chicken spot is one of the best places to eat in the neighborhood. A quarter bird runs a little over $10 with fries and a salad, and the chicken is just that perfect combination of salty and juicy. You might have to beg the table over to use their bottle of aji sauce, but it’s worth the hassle. The sauce has a cult following for a reason.

Specialties: Budae Jjigae

There are certainly more refined dishes than budae jjigae, but looks aren’t everything. The spicy kimchi stew hits the table brimming with giant leaves of cabbage, spam, instant ramen noodles, and chopped up sausages. It’s not exactly a who’s-who of the butcher shop, but Chunju’s version is spicy, savory, and immensely satisfying. The small space has feels like a tavern, and the central location on 6th Street makes it a great jumping-off point for a fun night out. Also, their banchan is some of our favorite in the neighborhood.

Specialties: Sul Lung Tang

A meal at Han Bat Sul Lung Tang happens at warp speed. Before you even put your jacket on the back of your chair, a waitress will ask you what you want - an easy choice considering there are only two things on the menu and you’re getting the sul lung tang (ox bone soup). Within a few minutes, a steaming bowl of the cloudy white soup arrives at the table, filled with a protein of your choice (we usually go for the brisket), followed closely by the check before you’ve even taken a bite. Don’t worry, your meal is not over. Once you’re settled, mix in all the salt, pepper, green onions, and kimchi radishes sitting on the table, and enjoy.

Specialties: Porridge

This sleepy porridge spot in Koreatown is a great place for a work lunch when you have the sniffles, a casual weeknight dinner, or tearing up at the adorable elderly couple at the table over. Bon Juk is a quiet spot that serves lots of different types of porridge - including pumpkin, black sesame, and red bean. Our favorites, though, are the ones with ginseng chicken or mixed seafood - filled with abalone, shrimp, and mussels. The porridge itself is thick but never mushy, and particularly good when you amp it up with the marinated beef and kimchi banchan options.

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