Los Angeles’s Koreatown is without question the mecca of Korean cuisine in America. The meals served in this vibrant neighborhood, full of neon lights and late nights, are so stellar that even food obsessives visiting from Seoul marvel at the sheer quality and quantity that is available. While most diners are quick to limit Korean food to all-you-can-eat barbecue feasts, there are a tremendous number of regional specialties worth seeking out in and beyond Koreatown. Featuring knife-cut noodles swimming in seafood broths and bubbling cauldrons of spicy stews, here now are 17 essential Korean restaurants in Los Angeles.Read More
17 Exceptional Korean Restaurants to Try in Los Angeles
Where to find Korean barbecue, soups, stews, and banchan
Sulga House of Bone Soup
With new ownership from 2019 that managed to make it through the challenging times of the pandemic, Sulga House of Bone Soup has found a second wind thanks to support and attention from TikTok. But that’s only because the food has steadily improved over the years, showing real attention to detail, even in the presentation and plating. There’s an unexpected level of creativity here, from the spicy corn acorn noodles sweetened by beets to the reliable brisket soup that only uses organic beef. Sulga House of Bone Soup is a Korean soup specialist worth celebrating.
Jun Won Dak
Koreatown’s longtime mom-and-pop (in this case, mom-and-son) restaurant Jun Won has reopened as a takeout-only spot serving some of the city’s best samgyetang, a comforting cold weather soup of ginseng chicken. Jun Won Dak also serves some longtime favorites, like galbijjim and eundaegu joorim (spicy braised black cod) to enjoy at home.
Tucked deep into California Market, this tiny little lunchtime spot is a classic bunsik, or neighborhood snack corner, with popular after-school foods like gimbap, ddukbokki, and more served at super affordable prices. It makes a perfect pick-me-up while shopping for Korean groceries or low-key lunch for nearby office workers. The lapokki, spicy rice cakes with ramen noodles, is hefty enough for two to share.
Han Bat Shul Lung Tang
The cloudy bone marrow broth here is legendary, as are the tender slabs of brisket and various organ meats floating in it. The menu here is very simple — seolleongtang only. Build the meal with seasonings, kimchi, and rice, along with a dash of salt and sprinkling of green onions.
Seong Buk Dong
This restaurant might be on the small side, but it serves up well-crafted traditional Korean dishes with huge flavor. The braised short ribs are a table-pleaser, along with the strong pot bibimbap. The spicy-braised mackerel is a show stopper, with layers of rich flavor that go perfectly when spooned over multigrain rice.
Mapo Kkak Doo Gee
This classic K-Town restaurant had an ownership change in recent years, but longtime customers likely won’t be able to tell the difference on the plate. Everything from the stellar radish banchan (the restaurant’s namesake) to the seared fish tastes as it should, which is to say, just like a grandmother’s cooking. The tiny, packed dining room filled mostly with Koreans should be a key indicator that this place remains a community fixture.
Chef Ki Kim’s innovative tasting menu is one of the few restaurants in Los Angeles dedicated to serving Korean flavors through a modern lens, and the results are at the very least interesting and at their best, incredibly thought-provoking. Kim does his best to keep the menu under $100, which is challenging given the small space and multi-course service, but highlights include the bossam, pan-fried fish with doenjang, and crispy octopus. The natural wine selections are one of the underrated parts of dining at Kinn, so be sure to ask the server for some fun pairings.
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Sun Nong Dan
Koreatown’s all-night galbi jjim destination serves the dish with tender chunks of short rib, chewy rice cakes, and tons of spice. While the soups are more than respectable, crowds wait in line for the meat festival in a stone bowl. Top the galbi jjim with cheese to take it to the next level. There’s a big new location along Western Avenue as well, located in the former Sizzler building.
MDK Noodles (Myung Dong Kyoja)
Formerly known as Myung Dong Kyoja, the easier-to-pronounce MDK has the same carb-laden menu of knife-cut noodles, pork dumplings, and chewy spicy cold noodles called jjolmyeon.
Expect lines at one of Koreatown’s more popular new restaurants, which has a wide menu of soup-based dishes, including gukbap, seolleongtang, and yukgaejang. The real star during the summer here is the naengmyeon. The chilled beef broth paired with freshly pressed buckwheat noodles is easily one of the most refreshing Korean dishes. On the other end of the heat spectrum, shareable jeongol like mukeunji pork ribs pack tons of umami from long-fermented kimchi simmering on the table while diners eat.
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Though lunchtime crowds go for the bossam, a Korean specialty featuring pork belly slices and accoutrements, it’s worth trying the traditional dishes as well. The hulking seafood pajeon is a classic, as well as the kimchi stew in a stone pot. The classic, dimly lit dining room is now open again.
A truly quirky restaurant that’s found a steady following on social media, Borit Gogae is a very rustic Korean experience that works as a contrast to the highly developed country and its technological advancements. With all of that progress, there’s a yearning both in Seoul and even here in Los Angeles for simple, country cooking and Borit Gogae nails the experience, from the dozen or so banchan, mixed barley rice, and soup. Bring a few friends and enjoy this bargain of a tasting menu served all at once, Korean-style.
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Seafood staple Soban can do no wrong, serving up an amazing array of banchan to begin each meal. The menu features terrific raw crab dressed one of two ways, either in a garlicky soy sauce or thick spicy red pepper sauce, as well as pan-fried fish and spicy braised black cod (or opt for the spicy beef short ribs instead).
This is the premier Korean barbecue restaurant in Koreatown, and Park’s delivers with prime-grade meats served at the table, along with a slew of other traditional Korean dishes shared in a clean, smoke-free ambiance. The quality of the meat and banchan is simply unsurpassed, rivaling some of the best in Seoul itself. The front parking lot has been converted into an outdoor Korean barbecue setup for additional seating.
Sun Ha Jang Restaurant
Popular Korean duck barbecue spot Sun Ha Jang has opened up a front outdoor patio for one of LA’s most unique tabletop grill styles. After a parade of fatty, delicious duck seared on a skillet, diners get flavor-packed fried rice to end the meal.
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Surawon Tofu House
Koreatown loves soondubu, the silken tofu stew popularized at places like BCD and Beverly Soontofu. But Surawon Tofu House makes its own tofu on the premises, resulting in a rich, almost nutty tofu with a lot more complexity. The combo deals here are fantastic too, such as the one with fried mackerel big enough to split for two.
Enduring Korean barbecue specialist Yangmani treats intestines on the same level as primal cuts, and the crowds every night are evidence of the restaurant’s popularity. Owner Jennifer Choi, who also owns Ong Ga Nae in Koreatown and has recently expanded Yangmani to Rowland Heights, is always ready to get creative with her dishes, including a stellar kimchi fried rice studded with nubs of crisped gopchang.