Date with Korean girl: K-Town - Where should I go?
This will be my second date and I need help finding the perfect place.
I am pretty unfamiliar with the area - only having done research on-line.
I am looking for a place that is not too divey - but serves korean cuisine that will please and impress a native with a decent atmosphere.
So far all I have thought up of is Sa git Rol. Thoughts?
She also likes Japanese food - so although I am leaning moreso toward korean food perhaps there is an izakaya you could reccomend - should we last minute change plans.
Also - any ideas on korean chowish gifts I might be able to buy for her - as I plan to spend the day of the date exploring k-town?
Kind Regards and Thanks for your help.
Is there any korean street food to be had?
Have you been to Western Soondae?
Good luck on your third date! Yay! FWIW, and I know I'm really late in chiming in here, but as a happily married chick of 8 years, I charmed hubby-to-be with something he'd never tasted before, polenta casserole.
That's funny probably only to us, because his entire family is midwest raised, Irish/English, and I'm Chinese/German/Welsh. So for him to eat anything other than meat and potatoes or maybe lasagna or spaghetti was out of the question.
That said, I agree with the other posters who suggested a non-Korean dining place. My mom (Chinese) was the one who suggested I make the polenta dish (layered homemade polenta, capers, spicy mozzarella and roma tomatoes) instead of trying to fix meatloaf and potatoes or something.
Anyway, sorry to have wandered slightly off topic...good food is good food, regardless of where it's from and regardless of what you're trying to accomplish (just having fun vs. trying to impress a future spouse) Good luck to you and have a blast!
Ok...I'll bite - we ended up at odaesan.
I had made a 6:30 reservation at Sa rit Gol earlier in the day...but the girl was held up at work and we didnt arrive until 7:00 with a line out the door. I was really dissapointed because I wanted to try this place (older korean woman who greeted me when I came into to reserve was super friendly). And I have an hour plus drive back home with college 8am next morning.
I found out she liked sashimi so we headed down wilshire to Odaesan. It was a beautiful restaurant...just kind of sterile and too bright - if you catch my drift. I was looking for more character a la sa rit gol. We got the 90 dollar sashimi dinner. The sashimi was ok....a few items had noticably 'lost fresh.' Enjoyed the ika-shiso the best.
Panchan was sparse but pretty decent. Mini Dolsot albap - nice but lacking in the fish roe dept.
Didnt touch the oysters but liked the whole grilled pike, saury.
The best part of the evening was actually afterwards when we headed to the Korean coffee shop, Koffea. Much more intimate.
Still a nice date, and she wants me to come back next sunday...so where should I go?
Thanks for your assistance.
kare_raisu: Great things went well on your date!
Interesting choice in Koffea, as they seem to be the cafe that every other cafe in Koreatown tries to emulate. They seemed to be amongst the first in Koreatown to offer a "whole house" environment combining upholstered furniture, various rooms, "indoor" outdoor rooms (rooms whose windows are removed from exterior walls), and even a patio and a 2nd floor area as well.
They've gone through several remodels since I've known them, each time feelling more and more "home-like" while simulataneously increasing a certain urban appeal. Atmosphere-wise I don't think there could've been any better choice for an after meal spot to talk!
But as much as they offer in style and atmosphere, I find all of their coffee drinks to be way off, just simply "too gussied-up" with sweet whipped cream, assorted toppings, and an overabundance of milk on top of an espresso that's alternately either over-extracted or under-extracted. I haven't yet found a Korean cafe in L.A.'s Koreatown that actually had good coffee! Is it just me? Any suggestions to try? Is there a Koffea-like place in Koreatown, that is, with a similar atmosphere, with good coffee as well?
College? As in....Claremont Colleges (eyes brightening)? chirp chirp!
Anyway, you have tons of Korean suggestions to work your way through, but if you want to start an on-going "LA dating adventures" thread series I think that would be fantastic! Re-post for each date and tell us what you're looking for!
Personally, I think it's time for you to head to Musha in Santa Monica (I would say Sa Rit Gol but maybe byou want a break from Korean?)!
slight cultural nuances may be needed here with regards to the prince.
i've been coming here a long time, its cool and novel for us non koreans. i'd take my white friends there all the time. but its also sort of an ajashi bar (middle aged man bar) so a young korean girl might be grossed out if she was taken there, or she might find it amusing. i've noticed the demographics changing lately, korean crowd can also be younger, more white people showing up.
in other words, what is her "keeping it real" quotient?
As a korean gal, I have to say I have no clue why eveyone finds it so offensive to take this girl to a korean place. The point is to take her to somewhere she will enjoy.
My vote is for Sa Rit Gol. I've taken numerous koreans there (and non)and everyone has loved it. The food is excellent. I second the black cod recommendation, the spicy pork is really good too.
I would avoid Chosun. I only take non-koreans there, and even then it's only non-koreans that I think will be skittish. It's clean with a nicer atmosphere, but the food is lacking.
If she's into more izakaya-like options (really, it'd be equivalent to Korean pojangmatcha, which doesn't sound romantic at all), try Zip (not to be confused with Zip Fusion) on Wilshire, near St. Andrews/Manhattan or DanSungSa.
Korean "cafes" offer some variety of food as well, as they often operate as bars...
And I'd like to add a big NO to the idea of taking a girl to a K-bbq place on a first date. Seriously, even I used to get self-conscious about smelling like meat and smoke, and that was around my longtime (then) bf, who had been eating there with me.
I concur with not taking her to a Korean spot. as a 1st gen. Filpina who dates outside of my culture, I would roll my eyes at a man saying he's going to take me to the a Filipino restaurant cause "he love my people's food" or whatever.
I say Opus tasting menu...a great value for the price!
Date 3, let HER show you what Korean food is all about by letting her choose her K-town restaurant of choice; it's her culture, let her be the one to show it off to you, not vice-versa. it would be the gentleman thing to do.
Second date? Personally, I'd avoid any spot which will make your skin/hair/clothing smell like charcoal. Save that for the third or fourth date (at least). :)
Since you participate on this board, your access to chowable spots is endless. Don't ask her what she wants to eat. Surprise her. Forget about what she tells you she likes (Korean or Japanese food) and bring her somewhere tasty and different. You'll definitely create a memorable impression and earn brownie points for sure.
This concludes the latest episode of "Dynamike's Guide to Dating". Thanks for tuning in.
tang song sah is a favorite and has a really fun vibe.
the only drawback is there is cigarette smoke but if shes from korea it shouldnt be a big shock.
definitely not western soondae. no atmosphere hole in the wall, although you could go to mr coffee afterwards for shaved ice dessert.
dong il jang is nice. but feels a bit "family restaurant" although there are some nice "objets d'art"
chosun is slick.
there are many korean izakayas although tang song sah gets the most attention here.
there is also mazinger z, which has an anime theme.
right at 6th and berendo there are two other po jang ma cha (korean izakaya) but i forget the names.
you can go to pinkberry after tang song sah if this makes a difference
there is a place called "shiri" (friends) which is kind of date-y intimate and dark. small dishes, cute atmosphere. its on the second floor of the wilshire and alexandria complex where the bar "blink" is. you may or may not want to go here for a drink afterwards as it can get semi gangster. you can also check out the arcade downstairs and watch the ktown teens drenched in sweat legs all blurry playing DDR. thats amusing...
shikdorak and sa rit gol are both good restaurants. shikdorak is for bbq, and sa rit gol has multiple choices. (i love the black cod with daikon dish here). i would say sa rit gol has better ambience with the dark woods. ask for a booth...
for bbq, i also like surhabal on western and 1st i think. on the east side. slightly more elegant and great meat, and you can get charcoal grill too.
musha is good too.
there is also a tonkatsu restaurant that is fun and cool called wako. its not as good as a japanese tonkatsu specialty place but it will do the trick and the price is right (about 9-14 a plate). the new location is on olympic east of normandie on south side...
if you like bbq pork ribs i'd also suggest ham ji park on 6th and berendo...
if you enjoy gang fights at 2:30am and mediocre food go to hodori at olympic and vermont.
if you want a cheap date, go to beverly soon tofu. 9 bux each. the place across the street, sokongdong has better tofu, but beverly has cool ambiance....
there are all sorts of nice cafes or bakeries to go to afterwards too, that specialize in 6 dollar mediocre coffees. enjoy the hood!
a list i made of restaurants in ktown off of olympic
My two cents -
what do people think about Prince in the basement of the Cove across from the site of the Ambassador hotel? used to be thewindsor room, has a great mahagonny bar from forever ago, and serves korean snax like the live cut octopus...
3198 W 7TH ST
I just came back from the Korean place that is translated into the "Honey Pig". You can't miss it. It's on 8th right at Kingsley on the south side of the street. The yellow pig is an obvious logo. Had passed by several times and finally tried it tonight. A different variation of the traditional bbq. They grill the meats on a round iron griddle and also grill the vegetables, kimchee and korean pancake. They save the best for last and grill fresh octopus and ise the drippings from the meat and make a great spicy fried rice. Not too fancy - not too plain. Very authentic. Might be a nice take on the obvious bbq with panchan.
I've been to Sa Rit Gol a few times now, and always end up ordering:
-seafood pancake. Theirs is the fairly flat and crispy variety, and tends to have a lot of cuttlefish in it (which I like).
-braisd cod with daikon (on the back of the menu). There's another cod dish on the inside of the menu, but that's not it. If you ask the server which one's the famous cod, she'll steer you to the right one
-the spicy wheat noodles, the first item on the menu. They're kind of translucent, chewy noodles in mildly spicy sauce. I could eat this for lunch a few times a week and not tire of it.
-if we have more than 4 people, a 2 person order of BBQ. For just the two of you, maybe you can ask if they'll serve you just one kind of meat, if you want BBQ at all.
Please do post back (or others please post) your other favorites. We always take new people to Sa Rit Gol and order these same things because we want our friends to try them, but it's really time to try new dishes.
Thanks for clearing up your ethnic background, just to show that not only 2nd and 3rd generation Korean Born Americans speak "a little Korean." The person with the BEST Chinese I know of is a white boy from Sacramento. He puts us to shame when we play the dictionary game. Incidentally, we took him to Sa Rit Gol and he loved it. And all cooks/servers in California speak "a little Spanish." I ordered tempura at a sushi bar one time, and the Japanese chef (terrible English) turned around and screamed "Dos Camarones!" with a perfect Spanish accent.
For Shik Do Rak, can't go wrong with the chadol cut with dduk bossam. I think it's their best grill item. But be forewarned the place is most definitely not upscale. Nor is it quiet. It's smoky, loud, and a bit messy, but great food. Your original post requested a place not too divey... Shik Do Rak *is* borderline divey.
If you want to shoot for a better atmosphere than Shik Do Rak, try Tahoe Kalbi on Wilshire. I think they have the best tasting kalbi cut at the moment (among the non-charcoal places). They also have decent chadol and dduk bossam (but not as good as Shik Do Rak). The seating is booth-style, so a little more privacy than the wide-open seating at Shik Do Rak.
the OP states he speaks some korean, so i take it he's a 2nd or 3rd gen, while the girl is a 1st gen native. trying to lessen the cultural barrier by taking her to a "familiar" spot. but...
why? to impress her with one's supposed knowledge of her background? sounds like kissing up to me... and she'll sense it.
take the initiative, my man. let her experience something she hasn't before. take her to a non-korean place in/near ktown. opus. guelaguetza. girasole. taylor's. show her what exists in her 'hood that's beyond her normal scene. THEN take her to a korean spot for a few drinks afterwards. prince. dan sung sa. blink. bliss.
demonstrate YOUR knowledge to her. not the other way around. lead.
Clear the air:
-I am 'white.'
- Have learned Korean through working at K -owned restaurant. [The owner is essentially a family member in my eyes (father figure).]
- My subordinate chef is Oaxacan and makes darn good food - so rule out Guel.
- Don't know what made you write this statement: "why? to impress her with one's supposed knowledge of her background? sounds like kissing up to me... and she'll sense it. "
- I live an hour + outside of LA - I love Korean cuisine so I want Korean food in the 'epicenter'- as we both like it. So soju drinking is -unfortunately- going to have to be kept at a minumum (not to mention spring semester begins 8am Monday morning -next day).
re. stares: see Pei's post. However -I have been made well aware of Korean additudes concerning this issue and am able to understand why this is so.
I think the only reason not to go with a korean restaurant + tour of koreatown is that the malls and restaurants in korea (i'm assuming she's from seoul or surrounding burbs here) are amazing and that she might be disappointed. i wouldn't worry so much about the staring stuff, it happens less than you think since everyone is pretty much used to interracial dating by now (or should be).
- Sunday is my single day off....restaurant business.
- She does not get off till 6pm from her work on Sundays.
- I would like to hang out in the area until the time of the date. I have only been to K-Town three times briefly but have explored Annandale's (DC) Koreatown and the stretch of a street in San Diego I guess you could call a Korean hamlet.
This thread is starting to tee me off- I regret even starting it.
I just asked for some advice on WHERE to eat with a few open parameters.
-we want to eat korean
-we will be in k-town.
-what do you reccomend?
In addition, I also asked some unrelated to the actual date chow questions. This has been somehow misconstrued.
Now I am getting lessons on how to date?
Issue of race came up - huh?
On the other hand, I am very grateful for the time ALL of you have given to help me out on target or tangent.
i did not mean to offend. now that I understand your background a bit better, let me tell you mine.
i am a 1.5 gen korean
i work in ktown
i am a bachelor and have been in many situations like yours
sorry if I came off as a bit abrupt, but I WAS trying to give good advice from my own experience. and I stand by what I said - "why? to impress her with one's supposed knowledge of her background? sounds like kissing up to me... and she'll sense it. " you know this as well as i: people prefer adventure over the mundane. the girl’s korean and has eaten korean food her entire life. why not go elsewhere and demonstrate your knowledge in which she is probably unaware? perhaps rec a few dishes and share? especially on a second date when some of the initial awkwardness has worn off.
and I really mean this: LEAD. you obviously like the girl. so let her see what you’re about.
having said that, if you want a korean resto rec from me, I would say dong il jang. it's fairly upscale and the food is pretty good. sa rit gol would work too, but it's more down and funky, and while i like their food, the panchan tastes a bit too sweet for my palate.
Sa Rit Gol has great food, but it definitely attracts an older crowd - it may be a bit too traditional for a second date. And if you happen to be a non-Korean dating a Korean, you're going to be stared at. Cho Sun, as noted, is a clubhouse for the Benz-driving set: too much pressure. I would suggest Shik Do Rak on Olympic, which is just refined enough, just raffish enough, not too staid, and specializes in the rice-noodle wrap approach to Korean barbecue.
Dan Sung Sa, of course, is one of the wonders of the world, but the menu is untranslated if that matters one way or another.
I don't know about the interracial dating drawing stares (who cares, anyway? Let them stare. You eat) but I do see plenty of white people eating there. We don't even know that kare raisu is white, and two Asians eating at Sa Rit Gol aren't going to get any stares. Heck, almost all the waitresses speak Chinese. I do very well when I go.
O-Dae San, 2889 West Olympic - west of Vermont - is a fantastic seafood restaurant. Great Korean style sushi and a huge variety of other seafood, and some other, dishes that are all pretty wonderful. (I especially recommend the al bap - a bowl of sushi rice that is covered in a beautiful and colorful array of different sorts of fish eggs.
It's a nice, comfortable, not too noisy atmosphere and I rarely see anyone other than Koreans there so I think it is pretty authentic. Whenever I mention to a Korean that I like Korean food, they immediately assume I mean BBQ. They always seem very pleased when I bring up O-Dae San or a tofu or soup or bibimbap place instead.
I concur with estone888. O-Dae San has fantastic food, and the decor and the overall atmosphere would be great for a date. Just make sure the date isn't squimish about food. If you order the lobster sashimi and the detached head is still moving its whiskers about, you had better know she's not going to react badly!
I love the suggestions for Sa Rit Gol and Musha. Musha is more hip and there will be more couples, but I love the food at Sa Rit Gol.
Chosun seems like a very sterile choice for a first date. I know you want to impress, but to me going to Chosun is sort of like going to a chain restaurant steak house for a first date. There's certainly nothing wrong with it (would any meat lover complain about being taken to Ruth's Chris or Morton's?) but it doesn't require much creativity.
Don't take her to Manna! It's $15 all you can eat BBQ. It might be fun for a future date (though I'd pick Gui Rim or Gui Rim II over Manna) but do you really want your first date to be all you can eat BBQ in a noisy place full of teenagers and college kids, with music so loud you can't hear each other?
Sa Rit Gol gets recommended a lot by Koreans. It's very good bbq.
No one's addressed the izakaya thing yet, I think - Dan Sung Sa is a fun, casual place. I actually went there on my second or third date with my husband. ;) It's kind of a shack, although a largeish one, with sort of kitschy, throwback decor (but Korean throwback). The two of you would probably get seated at the counter that runs around the central cooking area, where the old ladies are grilling up pork ribs and whatnot. I love this place, it's a lot of fun. It gets really crowded, though - I wouldn't go on a weekend.
Just a question: If this girl is from here or knows the area, why don't you just ask her what Korean restaurants she likes? Do you even necessarily have to go to a Korean place? If she hasn't had Brazilian barbecue, she might be intrigued by M Grill, which is also in Ktown.
The problem is that my korean is very poor and her english is just slightly better so I want a place where she would feel comfortable in and maybe even help me in re. to dinner.
Dan Sung sa sounds very cool- the way you describe it. So far its a toss up between:
Sa Rit Gol
Dan Sung Sa
& Dong Il jang
The date is going to be on Sunday night.
dan sung sa is very cool. good date place esp for your situation. frankly that's where i would go if i were you esp if you drink. dong il jang is a decent restaurant but they didn't turn up the heat when i was there a couple of days ago and it was freezing until we turned on the bbq.
don't take her to western soondae. a lot of koreans i've met don't even like that stuff, esp women because it has blood and stuff in it. also there is no really good street food here, give that idea up.
the sushi in l.a. is light years better than in korea so that's an option. izakaya is a very good idea. yakitori at someplace like shinsengumi is also something i would think about. you could also spend the day in japantown or sawtelle since you can't really do a scenic walk thru of koreatown. on sawtelle (very cool for walking about if the stores are open) look at options like torafuku.
Oh, I see. Well, you might sort of bond over the menu at Dan Sung sa, which is entirely in Korean stamped onto wooden blocks. Yes, wooden blocks. I guess this could be fun or frustrating (if her English isn't good enough to translate). Personally, I don't recognize most of the foods listed so I just stick to the basics: pork ribs, pindaettuk, dumplings. They also have the unrefined rice wine makkoli. You can also stop by after another restaurant, but keep in mind although it's a pub, Koreans don't just drink without eating. You'd want to (and possibly have to) order something to eat as well.
I wouldn't worry about Sa Rit Gol being "too old," as mentioned below. It's definitely not a chic place for hot young things, but it's good food appreciated by people of all ages. Very good, bounteous panchan too.
Shik Do Rak, mentioned below, is good for ttuk bossam, or rice paper-wrapped bbq. Good choice, nothing fancy although I recall some odd, kind of kitschy waterfall-esque decor.
I also agree with the Odaesan rec... have only had the hwae tup bap there (sort of a rice bowl with sashimi and salad on top) but it was very good. A la carte sushi could get expensive, though, and I don't think it's likely to be the best sushi... the Korean fondness for half-frozen sashimi, at least, has been discussed here before. Odaesan is also very bright-shiny-clean... nice, but if the scruffiness of a place like Dan Sung Sa appeals to you, maybe this isn't the place.
This is merely a single data point, but I have a Korean friend (born in Korea, raised in the States) who tells me that Chosun is good, but is anglicized in her opinion. In contrast, she finds Sa Rit Gol to be more authentic. Both have great food, but the perspective of a native Korean was insightful to me.
The food is wonderful and it goes well beyond Korean BBQ. You can do the BBQ at your table, but they will also do it in the kitchen for you, if you prefer. (I definitely prefer that option because it's a small restaurant and you sit at a pretty small table, so you'd end up with copious amounts of smoke in your face.) The BBQ dishes were excellent, but their panchan is what sets them apart. They've got spicy and sour panchan dishes that I've never seen an equal of in all the Korean restaurants I tried -- truly outstanding. We ordered a seafood and green onion pancake thing whose name escapes me at the moment, but it was also very good. The service is attentive, though their English is pretty limited. The restaurant itself is not going to win any decor awards, but it's clean, it's comfortable, and it's appropriate for the place. It's tucked into the back corner of an L-shaped strip mall that has some parking in the front. If your biggest priority is the food -- and I hope it is, given that you posted this on chowhound -- then this is an excellent option. If you are worried about glitz, people-watching, etc., then this might not be the place.
I have to agree with the previous posts. Chosun, while not the "best" food in K-town, is the most upscale. My sense is that if you get there early enough and are really nice to the hostess and explain you need a "special" table, they will support you.
The one downside of Chosun is you might be "outclassed". Actually, anyone would. When you pull into the valet (with a insane fee of $1.50!! no where else in LA), you will be confronted with Benzs, Beemers, Porshes, etc. parked in front. If your date is into money/status, GO SOME WHERE ELSE!! Good luck.
Chosun is definitely the more upscale choice for dinner. However, Dong Il Jang is great and a little more intimate. Definitely much more of an old world appeal. Another option is to take her to Sarabol. Manna I would not recommend. Food is not great, service is meek and the crowd is extremely young. The good thing about going to Chosun is that you can take her through the Koreatown Galleria and go through the food court and the other stores. If you wanted something a little more lounge like - I would also reccomend the Little Prince. It's bar fare and they are known for their korean style broasted chicken. The atmosphere is more like Jones on Santa Monica Blvd. and they have tons of menu options. More of korean tavern fare. But it's cool and the food is actually quite good. Totally different from the large BBQ like Chosun. Good luck!
Dong Il Jang is on 8th right near Western Avenue. It's a very authentic local korean restaurant. Known for the BBQ of course and simple but nice. Is not as elegant as Chosun, but if your date is Korean, she may appreciate Dong Il Jang better. Panchan is very good there and the service is always constant. Some of the waitresses are limited in english, but are happy to accomodate. Sarabol is off 1st and Western. They are known for the rice paper wrap with the korean bbq, lots of sauces and panchan. You would definitely be full. I also just posted not too long ago the Honey Pig on 8th and Kingsley. This is definitely a grass roots concept with a somewhat contemporary feel. Mostly all locals dine there and they bbq is on a iron griddle as opposed to a grill. Actually saw a couple of dates there tonight. Not flashy, but simple.
if youre thinking on the level of an izakaya, then youre thinking casual enough for places like
guimok and l.a. omogari. honey pig too except that it can get loud there. none of these are upscale places like yongsusan and none of them will set you back as much as a place like the sleek chosun galbi. they are all down to earth places with great food that most korean people will love. places id take my parents out to when they make the trip down to l.a. and want to see how the ktown here compares to the bay area.
for street food go to ddosoon ee or koos grill. both have slightly different versions of hoddeok. icekiss is also a good spot but its more icy stuff, not necessarily street food.
gui-mok korean bbq
414 south western avenue #e
213) 388 9299
L.A. Omogari (kimchi jjigae, kimchi fried rice)
901 S Western Ave
3400 W 8th St
ddo soon ee
3603 west 6th street
California Market (Gaju Market)
(where the koos grill truck lives)
450 S Western Ave
3407 W 6th St
ALL in lost angeles
i've been to Western Soondae, more of a lunch place, the atmosphere is that of a no-nonsense eatery, kind of like a "driver's restaurant" in Korea (meaning a cheap place for car driver's to eat lunch while they wait for their employers who are eating at a upscale place).
for a date, I agree with the poster above, Chosun Galbi is a good place. you could try Dong-il Jang. Just went there the other night after several years. Good grilled meats and surprisingly, they have an extensive Japanese foods menu too. not as nice as Chosun Galbi but pretty good, in an old-school way.
hope it goes well!
I'd recommend Musha on Wilshire and 5th. On the advice of Chowhounds I went on a first date there. The food was great and it had a fun but not too trendy atmosphere. They take reservations. Also close to the 3rd St promenade to stroll around later.
Wharo on Lincoln has a very nice atmosphere for a date and I love the food, although it's not the most authentic Korean.
Chosun Galbi is great, upscale BBQ, classy and modern, will impress. I like the food, too.
There is a more downscale BBQ place called Manna that is lively and younger in its draw. Haven't eaten there - they were closing when I last tried to get in.
If you're wandering around, though, during your date, perhaps you'll happen across a place she'd like better. You can also judge her reaction on the spot. Seems like a more fun way to roll. Having a go-to spot in your mind should the wandering not work out would be a good hedge.
Last, izakaya-wise it's not in KTown but I like Ita Cho on Beverly, not too far out of KTown and it's a good date spot. The miso eggplant is nice.