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Gwaeji gukbap at Jinsol in Koreatown
Gwaeji gukbap at Jinsol in Koreatown
Matthew Kang

Five Korean Breakfasts in LA That Will Defeat Your Hangover

Where to bookend that hangover you got in Koreatown last night.

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Gwaeji gukbap at Jinsol in Koreatown
| Matthew Kang

What do Koreans eat for breakfast? As a Korean-American, it feels like a sort of personal cultural failure when I initially typed the search into Google. To be completely honest and to draw from the personal experiences of both native Koreans and Korean Americans, breakfast as a meal having distinct components from other daily meals hasn't really been a "thing" in Korea. Though Western-style breakfasts are gaining traction in the country, the general consensus is that unless you're eating a Korean meal in the morning (which few students and working professionals really have time for), breakfast is generally a pastry and some coffee or milk.

For those who do eat Korean food for breakfast, however, breakfast is a subdued affair consisting primarily of a fish or meat dish (note the singular), some banchan, and a soup of some sort. The soup is an especially integral ingredient, considering that for those who hit the bars the night before, there's likely to have been some drinking and subsequent dehydration involved. As such, restaurants serving soups and stews tend to be open earlier in the day. Here are five great Korean breakfast compilations in LA's Koreatown at restaurants that are open in the morning hours.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Gamjatang at Yangji Gamjatang

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Eater LA Editor Matthew Kang and I have discussed it at one point: Is there a more perfect soup than gamjatang? The hearty stew incorporates a pork neck bone that's been boiled until the gelatinous cartilage can be separated from the bone with a pair of chopsticks, alongside perilla leaves, green onions, red pepper powder and giant chunks of potato. It's a meal in a bowl, and the heartiest of Korean breakfasts. It's the dish Yangji Gamjatang is named after, and if you're hankering for a big pork stew at breakfast, you're in luck — Yangji Gamjatang opens at 7 a.m., or 24 hours if you believe their signage. Eating the stew is a bit of a process, but once learned, becomes half the fun. A separate dish is provided to the side where you'll be putting the bones after you pull the meltingly tender pork meat off of it with your chopsticks or with your teeth. After removing most of the bones, the soup becomes ready for the second phase: Adding a bowl of rice. Don't be scared off by the crimson color of the soup: Gamjatang isn't generally spicy, and adding the rice tones it down a bit. This two-part breakfast is the English full fry of Korean breakfasts: Hearty, and not for the faint of stomach.

2. Dwaeji Gukbap at Jinsol Gukbap

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Busan-style pork gukbap is good any time of the day, but it's an excellent way to start the day. The soup has a neatly balanced pork flavor with subtle hints of ginger. A couple teaspoons of saewoojeot, or salted shrimps, unlocks the flavor and adds a briny element that penetrates through the pork. Add the rice in right away and mix it thoroughly for a hearty stew-soup that's well worthy to be considered Pusan's signature dish. Jinsol Gukbap opens at 7 a.m.

3. Kongnameul Haejangguk at Chunju Han-il Kwan

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3450 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 480-1799

Chunju Han-il Kwan has a popular budae jjigae, or military stew, but the real thing you should be ordering for breakfast is the kongnameul haejangguk, or the bean sprout soup with rice. Haejangguk, which roughly translates to "hangover chasing soup," does exactly what its name says. And though those who would actually order this soup for its purported hangover curing properties would prefer not to chase anything with anything in the morning, the soup itself is a spicy tonic of bean sprouts, napa cabbage and green onion served with the necessary banchan and a steaming bowl of rice. Though not required, the rice is customarily added to the bowl to create a big stew that's allegedly the cure to a hangover. Whether it works or not is a matter of debate, but there isn't much controversy as to whether or not haejangguk is a definitive Korean breakfast staple. Chunju Han-il Kwan opens at 8 a.m.

4. Kalbitang at Yang Ban Sul Lung Tang

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716 E 9th Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(251) 500-1368

Yang Ban serves the nearby Korean workers in Downtown LA's Fashion District. The bustling, largely takeout operation is known for its eponymous sullungtang, but a couple other dishes deserve mention, primarily the kalbitang. The clear beef broth is scattered with green pepper, a strip of egg, some jujubes and and big, connective-tissue laden bits of beef rib meat. A small helping of glass noodles are also steeped in the clear broth that draws most of its flavor from beef bones and daikon radish, and the resultant kalbitang is one of the better renditions in the city. Don't skip Yang Ban Sul Lung Tang's kkakdoogi, or radish kimchi — it's a crunchy, vinegary pairing that packs a little heat and pairs with just about any of their soups. Early bird gets the good stuff here: Yang Ban opens at 6:30 a.m.

5. Abalone Juk at Bonjuk

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3551 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 380-2248
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If there's one restaurant just about all of my friends from Korea have been to once, it's Bon Juk. The rice porridge specialist is a more de facto hangover cure, and juk is commonly served to those who have upset stomachs or are unable to eat solid food. Bon Juk, on the other hand, makes what's usually a chore to eat surprisingly pleasant. The abalone porridge is absolutely top notch, with the glutinous porridge benefitting tremendously from the slightly briny taste of abalone and a little bit of sesame oil to help things along. The pine nut juk is also a favorite of Koreans who enjoy a traditional breakfast without too much heft. At $13 to $15 for a bowl, it's not the cheapest, but it's most certainly one of the most authentic Korean breakfasts you'll get in Los Angeles. Bon Juk opens at 7 a.m.

1. Gamjatang at Yangji Gamjatang

Los Angeles, CA 90020

Eater LA Editor Matthew Kang and I have discussed it at one point: Is there a more perfect soup than gamjatang? The hearty stew incorporates a pork neck bone that's been boiled until the gelatinous cartilage can be separated from the bone with a pair of chopsticks, alongside perilla leaves, green onions, red pepper powder and giant chunks of potato. It's a meal in a bowl, and the heartiest of Korean breakfasts. It's the dish Yangji Gamjatang is named after, and if you're hankering for a big pork stew at breakfast, you're in luck — Yangji Gamjatang opens at 7 a.m., or 24 hours if you believe their signage. Eating the stew is a bit of a process, but once learned, becomes half the fun. A separate dish is provided to the side where you'll be putting the bones after you pull the meltingly tender pork meat off of it with your chopsticks or with your teeth. After removing most of the bones, the soup becomes ready for the second phase: Adding a bowl of rice. Don't be scared off by the crimson color of the soup: Gamjatang isn't generally spicy, and adding the rice tones it down a bit. This two-part breakfast is the English full fry of Korean breakfasts: Hearty, and not for the faint of stomach.

2. Dwaeji Gukbap at Jinsol Gukbap

Los Angeles, CA

Busan-style pork gukbap is good any time of the day, but it's an excellent way to start the day. The soup has a neatly balanced pork flavor with subtle hints of ginger. A couple teaspoons of saewoojeot, or salted shrimps, unlocks the flavor and adds a briny element that penetrates through the pork. Add the rice in right away and mix it thoroughly for a hearty stew-soup that's well worthy to be considered Pusan's signature dish. Jinsol Gukbap opens at 7 a.m.

3. Kongnameul Haejangguk at Chunju Han-il Kwan

3450 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

Chunju Han-il Kwan has a popular budae jjigae, or military stew, but the real thing you should be ordering for breakfast is the kongnameul haejangguk, or the bean sprout soup with rice. Haejangguk, which roughly translates to "hangover chasing soup," does exactly what its name says. And though those who would actually order this soup for its purported hangover curing properties would prefer not to chase anything with anything in the morning, the soup itself is a spicy tonic of bean sprouts, napa cabbage and green onion served with the necessary banchan and a steaming bowl of rice. Though not required, the rice is customarily added to the bowl to create a big stew that's allegedly the cure to a hangover. Whether it works or not is a matter of debate, but there isn't much controversy as to whether or not haejangguk is a definitive Korean breakfast staple. Chunju Han-il Kwan opens at 8 a.m.

3450 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020

4. Kalbitang at Yang Ban Sul Lung Tang

716 E 9th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Yang Ban serves the nearby Korean workers in Downtown LA's Fashion District. The bustling, largely takeout operation is known for its eponymous sullungtang, but a couple other dishes deserve mention, primarily the kalbitang. The clear beef broth is scattered with green pepper, a strip of egg, some jujubes and and big, connective-tissue laden bits of beef rib meat. A small helping of glass noodles are also steeped in the clear broth that draws most of its flavor from beef bones and daikon radish, and the resultant kalbitang is one of the better renditions in the city. Don't skip Yang Ban Sul Lung Tang's kkakdoogi, or radish kimchi — it's a crunchy, vinegary pairing that packs a little heat and pairs with just about any of their soups. Early bird gets the good stuff here: Yang Ban opens at 6:30 a.m.

716 E 9th Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90021

5. Abalone Juk at Bonjuk

3551 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010

If there's one restaurant just about all of my friends from Korea have been to once, it's Bon Juk. The rice porridge specialist is a more de facto hangover cure, and juk is commonly served to those who have upset stomachs or are unable to eat solid food. Bon Juk, on the other hand, makes what's usually a chore to eat surprisingly pleasant. The abalone porridge is absolutely top notch, with the glutinous porridge benefitting tremendously from the slightly briny taste of abalone and a little bit of sesame oil to help things along. The pine nut juk is also a favorite of Koreans who enjoy a traditional breakfast without too much heft. At $13 to $15 for a bowl, it's not the cheapest, but it's most certainly one of the most authentic Korean breakfasts you'll get in Los Angeles. Bon Juk opens at 7 a.m.

3551 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010

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