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Where should I eat in Koreatown?

endsounds Aug 28, 2013 08:42 AM

I've never been to Koreatown and I wanted to ask you fine folks for recommendations on places to check out for food. I do not live in the LA area and I will be going on a Saturday or Sunday.

  1. Mr Taster Aug 29, 2013 11:25 AM

    Hey endsounds

    This is a great primer for Korean food in Koreatown. It lists individual dishes, then specifies examples of restaurants where you can try good versions of those dishes.


    I'd say the general path for the uninitiated is to get your feet wet with Korean BBQ and then branch out from there. That's what I did. (The reason Korean BBQ is so popular with non-Koreans is because it's accessible and easy to understand.) But, Korean food is SO much more widely varied than just BBQ.

    We recently went to Jun Won (specifically for the black cod stew, called "eundaegu jorim") and it was outrageously good. Meltingly tender in this salty and sweet sauce. We also ordered the seafood pancake (pajeon) and the tofu stew (doufu jigae). The tofu stew was surprisingly good, layers of unexpected flavor. The pancake was similarly wonderful-- nice and crispy, not greasy, with a wonderful soy based dipping sauce. This is Korean home cooking-- not fancy, just homey and really delicious. But this is food that takes a leap of faith to order as it is quite different from anything you're probably used to eating.

    The owner, Jeff, came over to talk to us and asked us about the food. Very nice guy-- he told us that the business has been open for about 20+ years by his parents, and he has taken over. But he's trying to expand his customer base beyond the middle aged to elderly Koreans that are regulars there. (Essentially, "Please send more non-Koreans")

    Anyway, I do highly recommend this place. It's a little tricky to find-- there's an entrance on 8th street (the english signage only says "Korean Restaurant"), but that door is sometimes locked. It's better to go behind and park in the lot, and enter from the back. That's where people queue up to wait for tables.

    Here's the LA Times review from 2011

    Mr Taster

    1. n
      namstermonster Aug 28, 2013 09:15 PM

      don't forget kang ho dong behk jung for pork!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: namstermonster
        dvsmik3 Aug 29, 2013 03:09 PM

        I second your recomd, their pork neck/shoulder is delicious.

      2. blimpbinge Aug 28, 2013 04:04 PM

        maybe this place


        1 Reply
        1. re: blimpbinge
          jessejames Aug 28, 2013 04:39 PM

          looks terrific!

        2. o
          od_sf Aug 28, 2013 01:26 PM

          I agree with the recs so far, and would also add Seongbukdong on W 6th. Not a BBQ at table place, but fantastic soups and "home-cooked" style dishes.

          1. endsounds Aug 28, 2013 01:18 PM

            Thanks for the feedback so far. All these places look great.

            1. j
              jessejames Aug 28, 2013 11:48 AM

              beer belly for beer and Death by Duck (Duck Fat Fries, Duck Skin Cracklins, Duck Confit)


              21 Replies
              1. re: jessejames
                Dirtywextraolives Aug 28, 2013 01:01 PM

                I REALLY need to try this place.....is the number next to the listings the price?

                1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                  Wayno Aug 28, 2013 01:18 PM

                  Oh man, reminiscent of Hot Doug's in Chicago, with the Duck Sausage and, on Fridays, Duck Fat Fries.

                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                    jessejames Aug 28, 2013 01:22 PM

                    yup. you can do a lot of damage for not too much cash. nice happy hour with beer and food specials.

                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                      Dommy Aug 28, 2013 01:53 PM

                      You need to go! The only reason I didn't mention it is because most folks want to do Korean in Koreatown... but now there are several great Non-Korean spots...

                      Beer Belly, Al Angolo, Issan Station... soon... Boo's Cheesesteaks! it's a good thing to be K-Town adjacent nowadays...


                      1. re: Dommy
                        jessejames Aug 28, 2013 02:00 PM

                        I like wako Katsu too. Fried goodness.

                        1. re: jessejames
                          Dommy Aug 28, 2013 02:23 PM

                          Have you tried Curry Hyang? That's my current favorite for Korean Japanese Style Curry. They also have really good Omurice


                          1. re: Dommy
                            jessejames Aug 28, 2013 03:32 PM

                            Sounds good. Thanks for tip. Ill try. At wako i like the Katsu sauce and grinding sesame w mortor and pestle. What's the difference w Korean curry and say hurry curry?

                            1. re: jessejames
                              Dommy Aug 28, 2013 03:51 PM

                              Ah! I love that trick...

                              There is very little difference between Japanese Curry and Korean Curry. I would say that Japanese is a bit more gingery... but overall, I like them both. The same thing with Omurice (which is one of my favorite comfort foods)

                              1. re: Dommy
                                jessejames Aug 28, 2013 03:52 PM

                                Dommy, im with you on the good stuff...also "very excite" as Borat would say about Boos coming our way.

                      2. re: Dirtywextraolives
                        LAgirl2 Aug 28, 2013 04:51 PM

                        yes, the number next to the listings is the price.

                        besides the duck fried everything, the pork belly chips are pretty great too! they just added several new menu items that i haven't tried yet.

                        as far as the 1hr wait (below in the thread)---when there are shows @ the wiltern the place gets packed wall to wall. i've had good luck either going early (5:30ish) on weeknights or the middle of the afternoon on the weekends.

                        also, they now have a hostess seating people vs the previous method of waiting impatiently for a table a la fathers office. their patios are now complete so there is more seating and seating options. but it can get REALLY LOUD inside when it's crowded---screaming to the person next to you to be heard loud.

                        i can't wait for Boo's to open as well!!!

                      3. re: jessejames
                        blimpbinge Aug 28, 2013 02:47 PM

                        no wonder there was a 1hr wait the other day

                        I never been there and wanted to try it out.. 1 hr wait.. ended up going to biergarten (empty...)

                        who wouldn't want duck everything?

                        1. re: blimpbinge
                          JAB Aug 28, 2013 04:29 PM

                          Blame Guy Fierri. I didn't find it anything special.

                          1. re: JAB
                            blimpbinge Aug 28, 2013 04:40 PM

                            ok that makes more sense

                            1. re: JAB
                              jessejames Aug 28, 2013 04:47 PM

                              never saw a line like that, but no line it is light years ahead of most pubs re beer selection and food if you ask me.

                              1. re: JAB
                                LAgirl2 Aug 28, 2013 04:55 PM

                                i would say that it's a good neighborhood spot, not worth traveling across town for. it's nice to have a place with good beer on tap and some salty, crunchy fried stuff to go with that's in walking distance.

                                1. re: LAgirl2
                                  jessejames Aug 29, 2013 08:36 AM

                                  i wish i had a place like this in our neighborhood, but we don't, so I'll travel. ill also head out to ktown for the wings and other pub food at OB Bear...some tasty albeit simply prepared fried chicken and more straightup korean beers and soju.

                                  1. re: jessejames
                                    blimpbinge Aug 29, 2013 09:45 AM

                                    I end up in ktown quite often because food in the 626 is too heavily skewed for the early-sleeping price-sensitive locals here.

                                    The late night pub/bar-restaurant scene is really limited and most places close quite early.

                                    1. re: jessejames
                                      LAgirl2 Aug 29, 2013 11:02 AM

                                      i felt the same way until beer belly opened up---i would have to drive to some other part of town to go to a place like this.

                                      i'm glad that they got rid of their initial brunch menu and now serve their full menu during the day on the weekends. their egg dishes weren't very good and i would rather have wings, fries, pork belly or a sandwich with my beer.

                              2. re: jessejames
                                EarlyBird Mar 24, 2014 11:27 AM

                                Just got to Beer Belly this Saturday and had a forgettable IPA, but some pretty gnarly duck fat fries. They fry them perfectly in duck fat, and add some duck skin cracklin's and a sweet/salt to it. Quite wonderful.

                                I will be back to get through their menu.

                                1. re: EarlyBird
                                  LAgirl2 Mar 24, 2014 11:38 AM

                                  stick to the fried foods (those are the better items on the menu). i mentioned this in a different thread, but you can request a taste of any of the beers on tap before you buy a pint. I do this often and it's a good way to avoid a beer that might be in a style that you don't like.

                                  1. re: LAgirl2
                                    EarlyBird Mar 24, 2014 01:40 PM

                                    I should have done that. The beer was by no means bad, just nothing to write home about.

                                    Thanks for the head's up on the menu.

                              3. Dommy Aug 28, 2013 11:44 AM

                                If you are going solo, you can't get much better than the Bim Bim Bap at Jeon Ju. Great Banchan for a solo person as well...

                                1. Servorg Aug 28, 2013 09:01 AM

                                  If you are looking for Korean BBQ then Park's http://parksbbq.com/ is the consensus winner here on the LA board of Chowhound. If you want to try an "old school" BBQ place then Soot Bull Jeep http://losangeles.menupages.com/restaurants/soot-bull-jeep/menu with the charcoal grills (and where you come out smelling like a chimney sweep) is the way to go. We like Dong il Jang http://www.yelp.com/biz/dong-ii-jang-... on 8th at Hobart a lot.

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