It's easy to have a special day in Koreatown. You can bowl, golf, eat bottomless Korean BBQ, belt out “Halo” at karaoke, sweat in a sauna at 2am, take taekwondo lessons, get an absurd manicure, and buy $30 grapes (depending on the season). The neighborhood has a venue for just about anything, but still, there’s no place quite like Kinn, the first permanent Korean fine-dining spot in Koreatown. It’s a whole new Koreatown experience, and at $72 per person, it’s one of the most affordable tasting menus in LA.
We don't know anyone who can throw a dinner party like Kinn’s chef, Ki Kim, who has worked at high-profile NYC spots like Blanca and Atomix. He’s brought that fine dining experience to this nondescript room on 6th street, with a seven-course prix-fixe meal. Some of the dishes are unexpected riffs on classic Korean recipes, while others are completely new inventions—and all of the food comes plated like it has its own stylist.
The tasting menu at Kinn changes seasonally, but you can expect whatever seven dishes that come out of the kitchen to be full of surprises. Like a high-speed roller coaster or Frank Ocean's 39-second interlude “Fertilizer,” you'll end up wishing each bite lasted a bit longer, but the high points make the whole ride worth it. The sea urchin pizza is a one-bite explosion involving seaweed and several pellets of shiny fish roe, presented in a greasy pizza box. There’s also a creamy steamed egg and clam custard dish piled high with nutty romanesco and topped with spinach chips shaved so thin they’re almost translucent. It’s a savory salt bomb that represents a perfect balance of land and sea.
Note that reservations aren’t mandatory, but we’ve seen walk-ins turned away during peak dinner hours. The dining room’s only real decor involves a handful of candlelit tables and a giant floral wreath that hangs above the long wooden bar, which is the ideal spot to sit. The crowd is a mix of anniversary dates, birthday groups, and solo diners who probably rush through airports in floor-length trench coats. And unlike most fine dining spots around town, the overall pacing here is perfect—you never feel rushed, but you also won’t have enough downtime to watch an episode of The Real Housewives between courses.
Our absolute favorite dish is the $22 octopus add-on (which we consider a mandatory eighth course). Our server mentioned that each piece of octopus is braised in its own juices and then flash-torched till it's golden brown. The result is crispy octopus skin that's so crunchy, we thought it was battered and fried.
Not all of the dishes at Kinn are as memorable as the octopus, mostly because they occasionally prioritize creativity over flavor. There's the black cod served with a jus made from the fish's own bones, which tastes more like palate cleanser than a flavor-packed dipping sauce. Then comes a tiny scoop of bibimbap served with mussels and steamed vegetables that could use a bit more spice. And the wagyu steak — tender, medium-rare, and pre-sliced — is served with a side of gravy that smile's back at you. It’s objectively cute, but left us wanting more gravy and less theater.
Kinn is a breath of fresh air, even in a neighborhood full of novelties. It's a casual tasting menu place that's perfect for people who usually despise the format’s pomp and pretense. Come here for fine dining without all the bullsh*t.
While Kinn rotates its menu every season, some of the dish concepts stay the same. Here’s what we had most recently.
Sea Urchin Pizza
Of all the dishes on the menu, this one involves the most theater. It arrives in a greasy pizza box that holds a wooden saucer topped with a tiny, one-bite uni dish. The base is a circular sheet of rice paper that could fit in a baby’s palm, overflowing with creamy sea urchin, fish roe, and some seaweed.
Steamed Egg & Clams
This creamy egg custard has a great crunch from the spinach chips sprinkled on top, and a handful of shucked clams soaking up all of its surroundings. You’ll barely see any romanesco in the bowl, but you’ll taste its bold, nutty flavor.
This octopus dish is an optional $20 course, but we consider it mandatory. Each piece of octopus is braised in its own juices until it’s tender and then flash-seared to golden-brown perfection. Everyone should have this on their table.
Braised Black Cod
Lightly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and served with a salty dipping sauce made from the fish’s own bones. We’re always tremendously happy after eating this well-prepared piece of fish.
When the chef handed us this plate of sliced steak bites alongside a pool of smiling ginger sauce, we were taken back to childhood. But after our first bite of the thick beef with perfectly seared edges, we knew we could only be at Kinn. There’s also a sweet baby carrot on the side that melts like butter when you cut it.
Ramp Stone Pot Bibimbap
This tiny mound of crispy rice, steamed vegetables, and briny mussels has a kick of gochujang spice. It tastes like someone exclusively scraped the crispy leftovers from the bottom of the pot—the best part of any bibimbap—and put it all on your plate.
After you finish with the mains, you’ll wind things down with this foamy frozen dessert made with omija. As our server told us, this Korean berry can have up to 12 different flavors at once. So as you scoop the ice cream and tiny fruit chunks hidding under the foam, you'll taste sweetness, bitterness, sourness, and more.