One in a many-part series about eating on a strict $20 budget around Los Angeles for Cheap Eats Week. Next up, Eater LA's photographer Wonho "Frank" Lee strolls around his local neighborhood, Koreatown.
My choices for Cheap Eats Week in Koreatown are just some of my favorite places in the area. There are many other ‘cheap eat' options all over the Koreatown that covers many different types of cuisine. However, these are the spots that I find myself keep on going back for their price, value, ease of parking, and taste.
Breakfast: Roll Roll Roll | Price: $1.99 | Remaining cash: $18.01
Address: 3675 Wilshire Blvd Ste C, Los Angeles, CA 90010
"Roll Roll Roll" is located in the middle of Koreatown, serving many local office workers. They are quite popular with the $3 rolls that are made fresh throughout the day. You can surely get a great deal for lunch and dinner at Roll Roll Roll, a Triangle Kimbap for breakfast is a solid option for a breakfast on the go.
Triangle Kimbap is technically a triangle shaped roll that's been designed to be easily held and consumed (not unlike Japanese onigiri). Once you figure out how to remove the plastic wrapper, it's very easy to start chomping away.
Roll Roll Roll now only has Spicy Tuna option for it. If you feel like one triangle kimbap isn't enough food for you, getting another one sure wont hurt your wallet.
Lunch: Olympic Hamburger | Price: $4.91 | Remaining cash: $13.01
Address: 1001 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006
"Olympic Hamburger" is my ‘go to' hamburger joint in Koreatown. Located at the edge of Koreatown since 1988, this place holds it own very well with many loyal customers. They serve a variety of hamburgers, teriyaki bowls, and sandwiches. Prices are what you might expect from a small shop like this. The place is quite small with limited seating. But with a recent ‘renovation', it feels much cleaner than before.
Their cheeseburger isn't about being fancy. It's about keeping it simple with good ingredients, which something I look for in burgers. For $4.50, you get a double cheese burger, which gets me pretty full. If you want the fries, try ordering a cheese burger for $3.25 and add $3.00 to make it a combo, which includes salad, fries, and a soda (and yes, have Orange Bang).
Dinner: Han Bat Sul Lung Tang | Price: $12.00 | Remaining cash: $1.01
Address: 4163 W 5th St, Los Angeles, 90020
Han Bat Sul Lung Tang has been titled as the "Best Sul Lung Tang in Koreatown" among Koreans in Los Angeles. As long as I can remember (which would be back in 1998, when I first came to America), they've been serving quality sul lung tang and taste hasn't changed at all. Many people still flock to this tiny shop in Koreatown to enjoy amazing, hot, and delicious bowls of bone broth soup.
Options for meat are flank, brisket, tongue, intestines & tendon, or mixed. If you can't decide, go with ‘mixed'. Once you order, expect the soup to come out almost instantly. It's really rare for the order to take more than 5 minutes to make it onto your table. Throw in couple of spoonful of chopped green onions, then season with salt and pepper to get the soup ready. I am a bit old school, so I throw in the hot bowl of rice into the soup and mix. Standard cabbage kimchi and ggak-du-gi (Korean daikon radish kimchi) that served as banchan, or side dishes, are really great here. Make sure to accompany a piece from either kimchi with every bite of hot soup and rice.
There's a small parking lot behind the building. During dinner time there might be valet service for one dollar. They only take cash, so be prepared. Generally with tip and tax, you will be paying about $12. Don't worry about the wait. Even if there are many people, they tend to turn the tables quickly because they serve the bowls so fast.
So, how did I do? My grand total for the day was $18.90.