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Best Korean Restaurants in K-Town

I am looking to try some new korean restaurants in K-town. Any recommendations? So, far my all-time-favorite is Ham Hung (located on 8th and Admore). SOOOOO good!

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  1. One question for the OP - are you Korean and/or do you speak Korean fairly well? Makes a huge difference in what can be recommended. Some places which are terrific really only make sense for people who speak Korean - I mean there are no english menus and most of the staff speak limited Korean. Also, does cigarette smoke bother you? Yes, I know about the law, but some of the very great small Korean places are VERY much under the radar. If this bothers you, then the recommendations need to be adjusted.

    2 Replies
    1. re: woojink

      Woojink, since we haven't heard back from the OP, lets assume the answers to your questions are:

      1- No speak Korean and 2 - Not bothered by smoke
      OR
      1- Yes speak Korean and 2 - Not bothered by smoke.

      Would love to hear your picks!
      TIA
      Bob

      1. re: woojink

        Sorry for the late reply, I've really appreciated everyone's feedback. I don't speak Korean, but my husband does. As for the second question, we have a 9month daughter, so not a big fan of the cigarette smoke :) Thanks for the recommendations everyone!

      2. park's is my favorite

        -----
        Park's BBQ
        955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006

        10 Replies
        1. re: andytseng

          Wife has expanded my horizons with Korean food.
          I like O Dae San for kal bi, but wife and family prefer ChoSun Galbe.
          Go to Park's BBQ for kal bi tang.
          Jeon Ju for bi bim bap.
          Yong Su San for northern Korean food
          But wherever you go, drive North after dinner and go to SCOOPS!

          1. re: nomo_fan

            Ohhh the post-prandial Scoops conundrum.

            In theory, I love your idea. But the reality is that by the time you've finished enjoying a 7:00-7:30pm Korean banquet with a group of friends, it's 8:30 or 9:00pm and all that's left at Scoops are the scraps of what's left over from the day. Or even worse, they're closed entirely.

            If only Scoops stayed open for after dinner hours, like Mashti Malone....

            Mr Taster

            1. re: nomo_fan

              What is Kal Bi? & Kal Bi Tang? Thanks, JET

              1. re: Jet

                Kalbi are beef short ribs, and kalbi-tang is beef short rib soup.

                Kalbi are the most coveted items at Korean BBQ, and often the most expensive.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Also, another form (awesome and lovely) of Kalbi is Kalbi Jim, which are braised short ribs. Awesome comfort food. When done well, it's crazy good.

                  1. re: woojink

                    kalbi is coveted?

              2. re: nomo_fan

                My family had a vile meal at Chosun Galbee around Thanksgiving -- even the kimchi tasted off. In fairness, the place was packed to the gills, so our experience may have been atypical. But based on that experience, I'd go to Park's instead for bbq any day of the week.

                1. re: a_and_w

                  park's is way better than chosun, no competition there

                  1. re: Lau

                    Chosun Galbee was impressive to me 12 years ago when my only other Korean food experience was Woo Lae Oak.

                    CG used to be the place I would take out of towners who were scared of anything that felt too "foreign." Now that Park's has that niche covered, Chosun loses out every time.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      i think at one point chosun was supposed to be very good prior to moving to its current, but those days are long since past

            2. Ohh Ham Hung was one of my absolute favorite restaurants when I lived in LA- their hwe naeng myun (spicy naeng myun with skate) with an order of their soon dae (from Western Soon Dae) made one incredible meal.

              Some of my favorite places in LA-

              Chil Bo Myun Ok (6th & Alexandria?)- love their spicy dduk galbi jjim (marinated braised short ribs with rice cakes) - perfect to share with a group along with their jaeng ban naeng myun (sweet and spicy buckwheat noodles with fresh vegetables)

              Han Bat (Western & 5th)- hole in the wall with amazing suhlung tang (beef broth) kkagdugi (radish kimchi)

              Shik Do Rak (towards downtown)- for their dduk bossam (grill at your table beef wrapped in lettuce and rice paper)

              Chunju Han Il Kwan (6th & Kenmore)- they do an awesome budae jigae (spicy stew with all sorts of stuff- rice cakes, ramen, sausages, spam, vegetables) and I really like their scallion pancakes- they make them thin and crispy

              6 Replies
              1. re: Cinemaverite1

                who has the best soon du boo?

                1. re: hppzz

                  Sokongdong or Beverly Tofu House, across Olympic from each other one block west of Vermont. BTH has better grilled items; Sokongdong has better panchan.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Beverly Tofu has booze... SKD none.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      I also disagree about SKD having better panchan. They offer the raw, marinated spicy crab sure, but in my experience, the panchan at Beverly always tastes fresher or something to me.

                      1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                        BCD!!! ALL THE WAYYYY :)

                    2. re: hppzz

                      The first place I had soondoobu in L.A. was Beverly Soondoobu when it was actually on Beverly Blvd. in the mid-80s. The waitresses there always bid me adieu with "Muchas gracias," thinking that I was surely their only regular Chicano customer. "Cholo jya arimasen. Boku wa Nihonjin da yo!"
                      I gravitated over to Sokongdong for a few years, but the owners changed and so did their flavorful soup. Haven't found anything as tasty as their oyster/pork combo anywhere.
                      Today, I satisfy my soondoobu jones at BCD on Wilshire, which, if I'm not high, is the only 24-hour Korean eatery on the boulevard with ample free parking. See the pretty Korean girls wander in drunk after the clubs close.

                  2. the pork neck soup at Ham Ji Park is ridiculous. please try it if you haven't already.

                    1. The Korean inspired Chinese food at the Dragon Restaurant is very good. I would normally go at lunch time and have always enjoyed their lunch menu. I like the spicy seafood soup with another dish on their set menu.

                      -----
                      The Dragon
                      966 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Foodandwine

                        Go to Dragon over Ogamdo for sure. I never send food back, but the tan-soo-yuk at Ogamdo was inedible.

                      2. Gil Mok has korean BBQ but their specialty is this cold noodle soup called Dong chimi. Eat it together and youll be hooked.

                        For boiled pork wrapped with oyster kimchee go to Kobawoo on Vermont. They have an extensive menu but in K-town its all about the specialties for each restaurant.

                        Myung Dong on Wilshire has good Kal gook soo (hand pulled noodles).

                        It really depends on the "specialty" you are looking for.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sumo3175

                          Myung Dong is okay...definitely doesn't live up to its namesake. In k-town it's all about Olympic!

                        2. Try Soot Bull Jeep on 8th Street near Centinela... Great Korean BBQ.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MengMacFoodie

                            YES. But this is one of those restaurants where:
                            1) you will smell of bbq grill for at least 2 days following your vist
                            2) service is...well, just don't expect too much.
                            3) parking is almost impossible

                            but the food is great, and well worth the wait (especially on weekends)

                          2. If you don't want Korean BBQ, then Go Ba Woo on Vermont and 7th St. They're pork wraps (dweh-ji bo-sam) is the best. And I like their seafood pancake (hweh-mool pa-jun).

                            1. Ondal 2 is awesome for kokaetang (crab stew): http://www.yelp.com/biz/ondal-2-los-a...

                              People already covered Park's and Sokongdong / Beverly

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Lau

                                Oh my goshhhh!!! :) you HAVE TO GO TO ONDAL 2 :)
                                its the best experience you'll ever receive (if you can speak korean)
                                the owner(manager?) is super nice and is very funny too
                                its so fun when he comes out, and pulls out all these things and makes a yummy bokembap right in front of your eyes... sighhhh oh! and the sujebee too!!!!

                                1. re: danniethepooh

                                  i thought it was a terrific experience even though i don't speak korean.

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    oh haha well, i guess if you don't speak korean then too :)

                              2. Madangkooksoo is a great place for knife cut noodles and delicious kimchi, perfect for lunch. Hanbat is good for sullongtang as someone else said before. I usually go to Seoul Garden for Korean bbq.

                                1. If you have a little one and you're looking for some smoke-free spots, you might want to try the more low-key, family style restaurants. There's Jeon Ju on Olympic for awesome bi bim bap, Western Doma Noodle (lots of choices here including sicy rice cakes, seafood pancake, torn dough soup, black cod and kal gook soo), Mapo on 6th for great fish dishes, and Seongbukdong at 6th and Berendo for Spicy Mackerel stew. Service can be a tad spotty at some of these, in particualar Western Doma and Mapo where the ajummas seem a bit short on help, but the home-cooking more than makes up for it.

                                  1. My vote is for Kang Nam. I always go there with my native Korean friends, everything I've had there is good. The place is a Mom&Pop place and is clean. I like having my bbq, naengmyun, and beer in the patio area. I'm gonna do a review soon since nobody has here.

                                    -----
                                    Kang Nam Restaurant
                                    4103 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                                    1. Favoritism in Korean restaurants is highly compartmentalized. By that, I mean “the best Korean restaurant” generally depends upon what particular dish you’re looking for and, indeed, there’s a plethora of dishes to choose from. One establishment may serve the best galbi (beef ribs) while another has the best yum so tang (goat stew), another has the best sul lung tang (beef “parts” soup), another makes the best soon dae guk (blood sausage stew) and yet another serves up the best panchan, that myriad of small plate accompaniments to virtually every Korean meal.

                                      Bottom line, there is no “best Korean restaurant. To an extent, the same rings true for just about any cuisine, especially when a wide choice of venues is available. But, for some reason, it just seems truer, at least to me, for Korean food. Even so, when discussing Korean restaurants with people, “favorites” can be identified, based largely upon what someone likes to eat. For me, most Korean restaurants become single purpose destinations – places I go to repeatedly for that one particular, often signature dish.

                                      That said, 10 of my favorites from the current crop of LA Koreatown restaurants include:

                                      Park’s BBQ – superior Korean BBQ due largely to the quality of its meats, including Kobe (Wagyu) beef and Berkshire pork selections. Excellent service. The staff all but insist upon cooking your selections for you to ensure proper preparation.

                                      955 S. Vermont Ave.
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90005
                                      (213) 380-1717

                                      Dae Bok – incredible Eun Degu Jorim (black cod), outstanding panchans and delicious bibimbap (a stir-fried rice, veggie and egg dish – among the world’s great comfort foods)

                                      2010 James M. Wood Blvd.
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90006
                                      (213) 386-6660

                                      Ondal – wonderful spicy crab soup, a multi-part meal best enjoyed with someone. Overwhelmingly filling and satisfying.

                                      3160 W. 8th St.
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90005
                                      (213) 382-8844

                                      Chin Ko Gae – superb heuk yumso tang (black goat stew). Too bad that the Goat House Restaurant closed down last year. Chin Ko Gae remains as a viable alternative.

                                      3063 W. 8th Street
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90005
                                      (213) 480-8071

                                      8th Street Soon Dae – awesome soon dae jap shi (Korean blood sausage platter along with other organ meats like pancreas and stomach. Dynamite soon dae guk (blood sausage soup). The texture and flavor of their sausage is second to none. It’s made with rice instead of noodles. The real deal!

                                      2703 W. 8th Street
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90005
                                      (213) 487-0038

                                      So Kong Dong – the ultimate destination for Soon Do Bu (spicy tofu hotpot). The others are just wannabees, with the arguable exception of Beverly Soon Tofu.

                                      2716 W. Olympic Blvd.
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90006
                                      (213) 380-3737

                                      Ham Ji Park – a great little Korean restaurant. I go there for one reason only – the pork neckbone stew. This spicy, savory offering is absolutely amazing - almost otherworldly good.

                                      3407 W. 6th St.
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90020
                                      (213) 365-8773

                                      Young King – perhaps the world’s best jja jjang myun (noodles w/black bean sauce and seafood – serious comfort food with Chinese roots). When Koreans visit from Korea, stateside family members take them there for their “fix”. World-class tang soo yook (crispy fried beef) as well.

                                      3100 W. Olympic Blvd.
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90006
                                      (213) 487-6154

                                      Ham Hung – a fantastic Korean little restaurant. Flying a bit beneath the radar, everything is delish. I go there for their naeng myun. Wow!

                                      809 S. Ardmore Ave.
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90005
                                      (213) 381-1520

                                      Han Bat – THE place to go for sul lung tang, delicious beef innards soup. Be sure to order it “suk-um” style to get even more varieties of the savory and chewy innards in your soup.

                                      4163 W. 5th St.
                                      Los Angeles, CA 90020
                                      (213) 388-9499

                                      Mat Eat Kae Duh Sayo!

                                      24 Replies
                                      1. re: degustateur

                                        this is a good guide although ondal 2 is better than ondal
                                        http://www.yelp.com/biz/ondal-2-los-a...

                                        i'd add mapo galbi to the list for the best dak kalbi, which is a fairly difficult dish to find done correctly
                                        http://www.yelp.com/biz/mapo-galbi-lo...

                                        1. re: Lau

                                          In what way is Ondal 2 better than Ondal? They do the same thing with the same ingredients with the same small menu. I never detected a difference.

                                          1. re: E Eto

                                            i thought the food tasted better at ondal 2 than ondal, have you eaten at both? i'm not the only person to have this view btw

                                            of course they do the same thing, clearly doesn't mean the execution is the same

                                            1. re: Lau

                                              I guess it depends on which person makes the crab dish for you at your table, since that's where the execution happens. My parent's place is about half way between both Ondal 1 and 2. So it's an easy place to visit, but I kind of prefer Ondal 1, just because.

                                              1. re: E Eto

                                                the common push back i get when i take people to ondal 2 is that the neighborhood is dicey, but whatever i think its fine

                                                btw im in love with that spicy raw blue crab panchan they give you, they make it so well there

                                                1. re: Lau

                                                  The dicey neighborhood of Ondal 2 just adds to more flavor in my mind. Its actually not bad at all ( the neighborhood ) The crab and dinner was very good. Just come with a mind that you need to take your time to get all of the crab out of the shell. The grilled fish ( is it mackrel? ) that they serve in the beginning is just fantastic. The owners son attended to us and made for a very enjoyable meal. The panchan or banchan as you call it was very good as was the cold beer..

                                                  1. re: Foodandwine

                                                    yah the grilled fish is excellent and their panchan are very good, im pretty sure they make all their own panchan b/c they dont taste store bought

                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                      having been to both, Ondal is my preference. The banchan is superior and the stew is quite simply more flavorful. Eating at Ondal 2, I couldn't help but feel the stew lacked flavor, spice and it was overtly obvious that the crab was pre-cooked, then frozen then put in the stew which for me defeats the purpose of it altogether. I don't give two sh--- if the crab is from Korea. I WANT IT FRESH!!! The atmosphere at Ondal 2 is definitely better and better for groups, including that humongous smoking room in the back, but it's just not as good. I wish it was.

                                                      -----
                                                      Ondal 2
                                                      4566 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

                                                      Ondal
                                                      3160 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                                                      1. re: conniption_fit

                                                        Isn't almost all crab frozen at some point now?

                                                        1. re: Peripatetic

                                                          Much of it is, yes, but it's flash frozen fresh on the boat and, like most fish, that's actually a positive thing. My problem with Ondal 2 (and I'm sure it's the same at Ondal, just tasted better when I was there) is that it specializes in the crab stew and yet offers the unsuspecting diner pre-cooked frozen crab.

                                                          -----
                                                          Ondal 2
                                                          4566 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

                                                          Ondal
                                                          3160 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                                        2. re: degustateur

                                          Thanks for the advice. I don't get to K-Town too often, but I've tended to stick to a couple places. I've been meaning to try Park's though, and was thinking about taking my parents (from MN) there next month. Is it best to order from the menu or AYCE (or do they even do that)? Also, if someone could give me an estimate on price I'd appreciate it too. I understand they are a bit more expensive than most, but I've tried to get specifics and couldn't find prices.

                                          PS - When I used to live in the Bay Area, there were a couple "divey" quick take-out Korean BBQ joints that were pretty good and satisfied the fix, but I haven't really found any here - are there any? What I'd like is to be able to get an order of BBQ Pork, rice & a little kimchee (w/ some spicy red sauce - I've never figured out what this is, but the places up there had this, and I haven't found it yet here. not "Rooster Sauce") for $6-$8. Is this possible?

                                          1. re: mdpilam

                                            The red sauce wasn't gochuchang? I don't believe there's an all-you-can eat option at Park's. I think my friends and I spent around $45 each last time we went there, but we ordered a ton of food and beer.

                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                              TBH, I don't know what it is called (the red sauce), but it is spicy, and would usually be in a "ketchup-type" squeeze bottle. So far, I haven't seen it here yet (but haven't done too much Korean BBQ outside the AYCE).

                                              Thanks for the cost estimate.

                                              1. re: mdpilam

                                                Sorabol has quick and inexpensive Korean BBQ platters like you mention, not to mention other good stuff--noodle soups, and now soon-dubu.

                                                http://www.sorabolrestaurants.com/ind...

                                                There's one in Century City and in Canoga Park; maybe you sent to some of the branches in the Bay Area. (The Century City's owner's mom started the chain in SF).

                                                I think the main K-town centers--Galleria (Olympic/Western), K-town Plaza (couple blocks north on Western), Aroma Center, that new one on 6th Street--will all have cheap BBQ takeout, i think, but I haven't eaten there in a while.

                                                And if $6-8 is your price range, MadangSoe (sp?) on Vermont and either James Wood or close has a $7.99 AYCE buffet. Haven't been but have been told it's certainly serviceable.

                                          2. re: degustateur

                                            Awesome, degustateur, just awesome...kam sam ni da!

                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                              You mean gam sa hamnida? ;)

                                              Mr Taster

                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                Technically, yes, because it's derived from Chinese. But it's pronounced with more of a "k" sound by Koreans.

                                            2. re: degustateur

                                              Great List!

                                              1. re: degustateur

                                                I agree with you about Park's. So wonderful. Was there on Monday and had the wagyu and it was a treat.

                                                Re the goat stew - how does Chin Ko Gae compare to Bulrocho? (bulrocho is in the same minimall as Park's) I really like the goat soup as well as the goat stew at Bulrocho. Have I been missing out?

                                                1. re: degustateur

                                                  Thanks so much for this wonderful list, Degustateur. My friend and I spent some time figuring out where to go first, and we opted for lunch at Ham Ji Park. The pork neck bone soup was terrific, and the squid with noodles were also fantastic. We talked to the daughters of the owner after our meal, and they told us that what we really missed out on were the pork ribs. Maybe next time.

                                                  Thanks again.

                                                  1. re: degustateur

                                                    To degistateur:

                                                    do any of you choices accomodate a party of 18 people for dinner? Jiaojee

                                                    1. re: tiaotse

                                                      Hello, tiaotse

                                                      Most of the places on my list range from small to hole-in-the-wall (that’s usually where the best food is found). A party of 18, although appreciated I’m sure, would likely be overwhelming to most. All would probably try though. Exceptions that may readily accommodate you include: Park’s BBQ, Young King, Ondal, So Kong Dong, Chin Go Gae and Ham Ji Park. Advance reservations are essential, of course.

                                                      -----
                                                      Chin Go Gae
                                                      3063 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                                                      So Kong Dong
                                                      2716 W Olympic Blvd Ste 104, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                                      Ham Ji Park
                                                      3407 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

                                                      Ondal
                                                      3160 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                                                    2. re: degustateur

                                                      Hey, degustateur... What LA Korean restaurant has the best vegan options? Ahaha, just kidding.
                                                      Seriously though, if you share all our secret KTown joints, our [ahem] non-Asian friends will be packing these places, and you know how they tend to linger over their meals, like, for up to an hour.
                                                      Great list.

                                                      1. re: degustateur

                                                        Are any of these places user friendly for lunch?
                                                        I need a few solid recommendation for lunch in korea town.

                                                      2. Hmm, from your post, I'm not sure if you are speaking only Korean BBQ, or are interested in some of the Korean places that don't specialize in BBQ as well, so I'll go with one I love that doesn't do BBQ (as I think BBQ is overrated).

                                                        Jin Ju Mr. Tofu has by far some of the best traditional Korean Soups I've had in LA. Whether you are a kimchi chigae or seafood soon du bu type person, they've got all the basic traditional favorites. They don't carry any bbq grills, but do offer kalbi on the menu, which are a delightful treat along side any soup you care to order. The bibimbap is always delicious and the seafood they use in their soups is fresh. Although my Korean fiance swears the kimchi is not as great as his mothers, it is pretty tasty. It's located on the corner of Wilshire and Normandie in K-town in the Brown Derby Mall. It's also open 24/7, making it pretty convenient for late night cravings after a night with friends.

                                                        Enjoy!

                                                        -----
                                                        Jin Ju Mr. Tofu
                                                        3377 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                        1. dunno if i'd call it the best but it's my favorite so far out of all the ones i've tried.

                                                          beul dae po - my fav 16.99 all you can eat kbbq place.
                                                          very smokey, good service, constantly replaced wire-style grill, wahng galbi(the big boned galbi that comes out in a long strip). huge variety of meats including instestines if that's your thing.

                                                          1. Try Don Dae Gam, 1145 S. Western, 90006. It's owned by the same people from Park BBQ. This joint specializes in pork. They have Korean and English versions of the menus and the best deals are the specials.

                                                            Most Korean BBQ that serve pork give up thick slabs of pork belly. Here, it is sliced thin like bacon. The marinated pork is also terrific.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: JeeLover

                                                              I'm in Oakland, Ca and we're coming down to my old home town in a couple of weeks to eat and see the sights. I'm bringing my son and daughter in law and husband.

                                                              Up here, Korean food is really expensive. Is this true in L.A? I'm talking about kal bi and accompanying side dishes.

                                                              How much would the crab soup described in several posts cost us?

                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                There's so much competition that the prices are lower. They're not rock-bottom (a plate of wagyu is a plate of wagyu) but you should be able to get a few plates of meat, the usual panchan, rice and beer for about $50-$60. A plate of prime kalbi, cut L.A.-style, is usually $20-$22, but it's a lot of meat.

                                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                                  Yeah, what Das Ubergeek says. It's not rock bottom like a lot of the Chinese restaurants in the SGV where you can get a fantastic meal with leftovers for $7 per person (including tax & tip!), but if you'e going the BBQ route than remember that everyone shares in the cost so it's really not that bad.

                                                                  If we're 3 people we can usually get away with 2 plates of meat, and even sometimes if we're a party of 4 (though that's stretching it- you may want to order a less expensive non-BBQ dish, a jigae or something, to supplement). Remember, at every Korean restaurant you have unlimited free panchan so even if you've got a great appetite you'll be filling up on those so the tendency is to over order on the meat. Korean BBQ loses it's magic the further you get from the restaurant, so this is one of the few types of restaurants I go to where I generally don't like to take anything home.

                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                              2. O B Bear on 7th/Westmoreland (near Southwestern Law School) has great spicy wings and an interesting veggie pancakes.

                                                                Road to Seoul on Western/12th is my favorite place for AYCE BBQ in all of Koreatown. Downside: wait time. Best time to go is during early lunch or dinner (before the rush at 5 PM).

                                                                -----
                                                                Road to Seoul
                                                                1230 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                                                1. Wow, I'm surprised I haven't seen my favorite two K-town restaurants mentioned:

                                                                  Soowon Galbi on Vermont has the best kbbq in town, in my opinion. They use charcoal grills, but it's much cleaner and better ventilated than Soot Bull Jeep and the food is way tastier.

                                                                  Yu Chun on Olympic and Serrano. Both the mool naengmyun and bibim naengmyun are top notch; no one else comes close.

                                                                  I'll also second O-B Bear for yangnyeum dak nalgae (spicy chicken wings) and tong dak (Korean fried chicken).

                                                                  1. Great thread, finding a lot of interesting recommendations for an upcoming visit!

                                                                    So based on all these recs, which one(s) would fit the following criteria:

                                                                    - close to the I5 on the way up/down to/from Disneyland (more than 20 to 25 mins off the I5 may be a very hard sell)
                                                                    - low on or zero MSG (I know that's asking a lot)
                                                                    - great soon tofu, plentiful quality banchan (with non spicy options like marinated seaweed - a must actually, konnyaku/konjac jelly thingy), sounds like So Dong Kong is my place?
                                                                    - hae mul pah jun / seafood pancake that isn't charred
                                                                    - great kalbi tang (Park's sounds like it might fit all the criteria, but how much MSG is in the soup, and is it salty?) and/or other selections of good hot non-spicy soups
                                                                    - kid friendly....that if you ask for a bowl of plain tofu in broth with rice in English, they won't bat an eye and won't charge you.
                                                                    -hassle free parking

                                                                    One that satisfies practically all of the above would be ideal, but will settle for anything close.

                                                                    Or a good place that has really solid non spicy Korean style ja jang myun and other noodle dishes (hand made fresh noodles) like Jjamppong.

                                                                    Thanks!

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: K K

                                                                      But... but... you're going to drive RIGHT THROUGH OC's Korean community! Sure, it's not as large as LA's, but you can be in the middle of Korean food 200 feet off the 5 in Buena Park. If you head a little bit southwest of Disneyland, to Garden Grove Blvd., you can have all the soon tofu you want. There's parking everywhere (this is OC).

                                                                      As for not charging you for a food you order, that's unlikely anywhere, but you may get lucky.

                                                                      My suggestions in OC would be Past Memories, Sagan, Shik Do Rak for barbecue and haemul p'ajeon; Kaju Soft Tofu for soon dubu; Ham Hung for kalbitang.

                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                        Oooooo more and closer choices! I'll explore... Thank you so very much!

                                                                        1. re: K K

                                                                          i'm sure u'll be somewat satisfied w/the choices in the GG and BP areas, however, LA korean food is top-notch and just can't be beat in the end.

                                                                        2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                          I agree with Das. There's no real point in going all the way up to Koreatown in LA when Garden Grove has a large Korean community and enough Korean restaurants to choose from.

                                                                          Sure you won't get to try Parks (which is one of my favorites but I've also been there many times when their meat quality was off) or Chosun (which Parks beats on a good day but not historically, at least from my many experiences) but you'll still get your Korean BBQ cravings satiated in Garden Grove.

                                                                          A pretty decent AYCE restaurant in Garden Grove not mentioned yet is Cham Sut Gol. It's about $17 per person and although I prefer going to Road To Seoul and Hae Jang Chon in LA for the AYCE, the discrepancy in quality is not enough to warrant driving up to LA for your trip. Cham Sut Gol can get really busy so be prepared to wait. I went on a recent Friday night at 9:30 pm and didn't get seated until around 10:15 pm.

                                                                          Lastly, no one has mentioned Genwa in LA yet which has consistent quality meat, good ventilation, English speaking staff, and the most diverse assortment of Banchan you'll find at any Korean BBQ restaurant.

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Genwa
                                                                          5115 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                      2. One more: Dong il Jang on 8th.

                                                                        A little pricier than your average AYCE, but you get what you pay for. Nice spacious ambiance. They're known for two things: really amazing roast gui – unmarinated ribeye (I think? I'm not sure of the cut, but it's a good one) – and the kimchee fried rice served at the end of the meal. You won't find either dish better prepared than it is here.

                                                                        1. http://www.tripline.net/trip/My_favor...

                                                                          I just made a list of my favorite Korean restaurants the other day. Dong Il Jang, Sokongdong, and Park's are all included, along with a few others :)

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: MeowMixx

                                                                            I recently tried Park's BBQ and it totally blew away my expectations. I will never ever go back to an AYCE kbbq, the quality and taste was amazing. I would rather pay a few $$ more (4 people, $25/each) and enjoy superior cuts of meat and you're not nasty full at the end of the meal where you're uncomfortable already. We ordered Ggot Sal, Marinated Galbi & Bulgogi, and of course the beef rib soup. The panchan were great too!

                                                                            My next place to try is Dong II Jang for the roast gui & kimchee fried rice.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Park's BBQ
                                                                            955 S. Vermont Ave, Suite G, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                                                          2. Jun Won

                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Sgee

                                                                              Had a spectacular meal at Jun Won recently, and I wish I had known about this place earlier. They're known for black cod stew (eundaegu jorim) but we had a spectacular pajeon as well. (Can't remember what else we ordered as I'm currently in Taiwan away from my notes). Great banchan, too.

                                                                              The owner's son, Jeff, was incredibly friendly to us, very curious how we found the place (we were the only obvious non-Koreans in the joint) and basically told me to "send more white people." This was Korean grandma cooking, homey and satisfying.

                                                                              Entrance and parking in the lot in the back, not on the street. 3100 W. 8th St.

                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                Jun Won is my current fave and Jeff is the nicest guy.
                                                                                The black cod is my favorite but I also LOVE the spicy sauteed squid & the pollack casserole. Fantastic rice too.
                                                                                Jeff's mom has a banchan take out place on Olympic just east of Western. It is fantastic. Cash only if you plan to go.

                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                  I ate thru almost 2 handfuls of eundaegu jorim back in '09, and Jun Won ranked in the middle as one of the few that passed muster. (I also like it at Nam Dae Moo, but also enjoy that for the KE stewardesses)

                                                                                  Sadly, JW's version is so thoroughly soaked with MSG (gochujang, whatever) and salt I can never endure it more than once a year. And its panchan, at least back in '07, was uninteresting beyond belief, despite the fact they own a separate banchan shop now. The grilled/panfried fishes are some of the most overpriced Asian seafood offerings, and in a rather sorry state; the nakji bokkeum cooked to death as per Korean norm.

                                                                                  I doubt anything has changed besides the English-speaking son coming into the picture, which has brought about the new round of interesting circa LAT '12.

                                                                                  Places like Jun Won is why all the Koreans are flocking to, and loving, EMC right now.

                                                                                  1. re: TonyC

                                                                                    Is EMC jumping now? Oh thank gawd. Some of my Millie Korean pals scoffed at it because they don't serve enough stuff like Korean stews. I'm like, that is the LAST thing Koreatown needs right now. :/

                                                                                    --Dommy!

                                                                                    1. re: Dommy

                                                                                      whats EMC?

                                                                                      1. re: Lau

                                                                                        It's a great new Seafood and Raw bar in Koreatown on 6th in the Zion Market Center... GREAT Broiled Lobster and their blue crab lettuce wraps. OMG. One of the best bites of the year. They also have Garlic Noodles that put Crustacean to shame...

                                                                                        --Dommy!

                                                                                        1. re: Dommy

                                                                                          oh wow, just looked it up...im getting so dated on LA food since im not there that much anymore

                                                                                    2. re: TonyC

                                                                                      >> and loving, EMC right now.

                                                                                      shh, I still haven't gotten around to going, and I'd like to get there before it becomes the Koreatown equivalent of Chengdu Taste (which I also haven't been to, and likely won't until the crowds normalize...)

                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                        Go to happy hour, great deals and too early for the KTown Glitterati...

                                                                                        --Dommy!

                                                                                      2. re: TonyC

                                                                                        looks great Tony...gonna check out EMC tonight...thx
                                                                                        Bob

                                                                                        1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                          I don't think TonyC's endorsing EMC: http://sinosoul.com/2013/08/emc-seafo....

                                                                                          1. re: PeterCC

                                                                                            Hmmm, I should do more research before making plans!
                                                                                            Still, I am gonna check it out to assuage my guilt over being AWOL Italia Style and not having a single DOTM post.

                                                                                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                              Go for it. I also want to give the place a shot myself. And Dommy (and others) have enjoyed it, so reviews are definitely mixed-to-positive from 'hounds...

                                                                                              1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                Look forward to hearing your feedback. While I agree with Tony in that you can get cheaper seafood and in someways better at chinese and mexican food places and I enjoy meals at those places as well... BUT.

                                                                                                a) it's not always possible with traffic and last minute planning to get at those places. We live near Koreatown and EMC is located not to far from a metro red line stop. HUGE plus for us.

                                                                                                b) the waiters here all speak english and you can get items you want, how you want. I trust my Mexican and Chinese cooks to cook dishes they know. But when it comes to broiling my lobster, I want to make sure it comes out HOW I WANT.

                                                                                                c) you can get a nice cocktail at EMC.

                                                                                                --Dommy!

                                                                                    3. You would be hard put to find a bad restaurant in K-town. Since they tend to be highly specialized, it isn't like once you've seen one you've seen them all. Why not pull a Jonathan Gold and eat your way down a few streets?