Koreatown in Los Angeles is a fun place to explore. There are dollar stores that have dusty shelves overloaded with strange trinkets and candy you’ve never heard of, and there are hole-in-the-wall restaurants with hardly any seating where you can get some of the best fish cakes this side of Seoul. If you want things to do Los Angeles, then tracking down the best Korean grub in the city seems like a worthy pastime. Here are some places that we consider indispensable.
Seong Buk Dong
Located on West 6th Street, this is an unassuming spot located in a little strip mall. They have a modest menu with a lot of traditional dishes prepared in a simple style, but everything is as flavorful and complex as you’d hope it might be. The rice cakes are soft but just the right amount of chewy. You can get the tofu soups with vegetables, seafood, or a combination of your choice, and their signature beef stew is comfort food done right. It’s reasonably priced too, but get there on the early side, as it’s usually mobbed around lunchtime.
Park’s, on Vermont Avenue, is a K-town favorite that boasts some scrumptious cuts of meat, including some of the ever-popular wagyu varieties. The wait staff is always happy to answer any questions you might have. The beef short rib soup is terrific, as is the seasoned special pork belly. The meat is fresh every day, so you never know what’s going to be sold out. If one of your favorites isn’t there that day, try something new. You’re going to be paying a little more for this sort of dining experience, though. Thirty-forty dollars per person is about average, so this is more of a special occasion spot.
Genwa Korean Barbeque
Our last nod goes to Genwa, on Wilshire Boulevard. This is another spot that runs more toward the upscale, but they have an expansive menu that features many delicious original creations as well as traditional favorites. The Korean steak tartare with toasted pine nuts, egg yolk, sweet sesame soy and Korean pear is to die for. If you’re going for seafood, the black cod stewed with tofu and vegetables claims to be in a mildly spicy sauce, but it’s still got a warming kick that will tingle the taste buds. For the vegetarians in your party, the “assortment of mushrooms” is superlative. It comes served on a sizzling iron skillet.
Whatever your budget, and whether you favor meat, seafood, or veggies, Koreatown has plenty of options for all. Have fun finding your new favorite, and we’ll be back next time with more suggestions.