clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Handsome New Daytime Cafe in Koreatown Draws Flavors from Hong Kong and Taiwan

The team from Tokki debuts a tightly-knit daytime destination with lu rou fan and chiayi chicken bowls

Pork belly rice bowl from Liu’s Cafe in Koreatown.
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

The weeks-old Liu’s Cafe is a surprising new daytime option for Koreatown and comes from the team behind the modern Korean restaurant Tokki. Instead of cooking Korean food, however, partners Alex Park, Patrick Liu, John Kim, and Eddie Lee have assembled a Hong Kong and Taiwanese-style cafe menu along Sixth Street in Koreatown, a few doors down from Kinn and Here’s Looking at You. The cozy, well-appointed space offers a walk-up counter and a chic dining area with vintage posters. The menu and overall design come from multiple visits to Hong Kong and Taiwan that inspired the partners’ love of these dishes and daytime cafes.

For the menu, the team hired Isabell Manibusan, previously pastry chef at Maude, to build a Hong Kong-style set of pineapple buns, cream buns, egg tarts, cookies, and bread to accompany the savory dishes. They also consulted with chef Lareine Ko, who helped develop traditional recipes that one would find in Taiwanese and Hong Kong cafes.

As for the menu, there’s chiayi chicken rice, braised pork belly rice, or beef curry with coconut cream at around $10 each. Sandwiches here reflect a more modern Chinese American sensibility, including tea egg salad with pickled cucumbers, a bacon-egg-and-cheese option, and a spicy fried chicken with cabbage slaw. Once weekend service starts in three weeks or so, Liu’s Cafe will serve a grand slam brunch dish with Hong Kong-style French toast, eggs, Chinese sausage, tater tots, and milk tea or coffee (with each of those elements also available a la carte).

A small Hong Kong-style pastry case.
The small but mighty pastry case at Liu’s Cafe in Koreatown.

A number of drinks round out the menu, including jasmine passionfruit ice tea, strawberry rooibos, and specialty tea drinks like a virgin scotch infusing black tea, pomegranate, and jasmine or the Paris Guide, with carob, cocoa, black tea, calendula, chamomile, and cornflower. Baller tea drinkers can opt for a $19 serving of prized rou gui oolong tea or 1973 pu’er from Yunnan province at an eyewatering $43.

The opening of Liu’s Cafe also represents the emergence of Long Hospitality, named for the Chinese and Korean words for dragon (yong in Korean, but close enough), melding the partners' Korean and Chinese American backgrounds. In addition to Tokki, Long Hospitality hopes to infuse fresh ideas and restaurants into Koreatown and beyond, much like Hand Hospitality has in New York City. “I grew up in Korea and New York, and I want to make Koreatown in LA better,” says Alex Park. With a stream of well-dressed influencer types and trendsetters already descending upon Liu’s Cafe, it’s only a matter of time before the TikTok and Instagram crowd packs the house on a daily basis.

Liu’s Cafe is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday at 3915 1/2 W. 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90020. A grand opening is scheduled for October 13, which will expand hours to 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with potential Tuesday service down the line.

A set of menus at a Hong Kong-style cafe.
Opening menu at Liu’s Cafe.
Egg tart, honey butter, pineapple bun, and cookies on a table at Liu’s Cafe.
Egg tart, honey butter, pineapple bun, and cookies from Liu’s Cafe.
Tea egg salad sando at Liu’s Cafe on a plate.
Tea egg salad sando at Liu’s Cafe.
Matthew Kang
Chiayi chicken and rice with hot sauce and daikon pickles in a blue patterned bowl.
Chiayi chicken and rice with hot sauce and daikon pickles.
Matthew Kang
Sparse dining room of a Koreatown cafe.
Dining room of Liu’s Cafe in Koreatown.
Liu’s Cafe’s small but well-appointed dining area with hanging lamps and vintage posters.
Liu’s Cafe’s small but well-appointed dining area.