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Morangak’s naengmyeon
Morangak’s naengmyeon
Matthew Kang

15 Excellent Korean Restaurants to Try in Orange County

Korean restaurants in Garden Grove, Fullerton, and Buena Park stand up to the best in LA

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Morangak’s naengmyeon
| Matthew Kang

While describing LA’s sushi scene in a 2010 op-ed in LA Magazine, actor John Cho made a powerful statement about the power of nostalgia and its ability to preserve an immigrant’s culture.

”The generations that immigrated here in the ‘70s and ‘80s are more Korean than Koreans are,” Cho wrote. “They carried this culture and preserved it in a jar in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, back in Korea, the culture did what it does: It evolved. You go back to Korea, and it’s culture shock. So bizarrely enough, this snapshot of Korean culture only exists in America.”

As Koreatown blossoms as a dining destination, it also takes on a character similar to Seoul. Though some of those great old establishments have stood guard for the better part of the last half century, rapidly increasing rents have led to parts of the city being more given to the motherland’s progressive machinations. Further south in Orange County and Southeast LA, however, the heart of an immigrant generation is still beating, steadfast in a commitment to regional cuisines and traditional preparations, undeterred by the whims of change.

It might take a little driving, but the finest Korean food in Orange County doesn’t just rival its Los Angeles counterparts — sometimes it surpasses Koreatown’s offerings entirely. Here are some of the region’s standouts.

Added: Han Nam Udon & Sushi, Ye Dang, So Moon Nan Wang Jokbal, Gaenari Bon Ga

Removed: Hamjipark, BBQ Chicken, Bonchon, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Seoul Soondae

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1 2 90701, 11750 Artesia Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 865-5799
Visit Website

After multiple generations in business, the Garden Grove outpost of Seoul Soondae closed its doors in 2017. Not to fear: There’s still the Artesia location, so those of you can feed the real ajeoshi or ajeumma within with all the pig trotters and blood sausage soup your heart could possibly desire.

2. Chil Po Korean Restaurant

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17303 Pioneer Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 809-0057

Chil Po Haemultang (formerly Won Jo Haemultang) has its specialty listed in its name: Haemultang, or a spicy Korean bouillabaisse, is a specialty of Incheon’s Bupyeong District, where an entire street dedicated to haemultang restaurants has invited fierce debate over which bowl of fiery seafood stew reigns supreme. More than a few native Koreans, however, swear by the one at Chil Po — it’s got serious heat and fresh seafood to give the broth a briny, spicy, refreshing quality. That said, haemultang might not even be the standout dish. Its hwangsil-bossam (imperial pork belly cabbage wraps) takes pork belly and simmers it with medicinal herbs and is served with a one-of-a-kind fermented-to-fizziness kimchi. The unique take on bossam might be one of the best renditions in the greater Los Angeles area, hands-down.

3. Jangmo Jip Restaurant

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4877 La Palma Ave
La Palma, CA 90623
(562) 402-7212

Jang Mo Jip specializes in...well, it wouldn’t be fair to say exclusively seollungtang (Korean beef soup). Jang Mo Jip is a purveyor of all forms of soup-and-rice, and the little hole in the wall puts out some of the best dogani tang (beef’s knee cartilage soup) and gukbap (spicy soup with rice) around at a more-than-fair price. Bonus points for ordering the kongnameul gukbap special: A clear, spicy soup of bean sprouts accompanied by a bowl of rice. It’s spartan, sure, but it’s usually not more than $6, and you’ll feel like a true Korean elder O.G. when you polish it off with some great kimchi.

4. Mhat Korean Restaurant

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8412 Moody St
La Palma, CA 90623
(714) 252-5033

Dakgalbi (chicken hot pot) is the name of the game at this phenomenal hole in the wall in a La Palma strip mall. With just a few tables and chairs, the specials are written on the board but you’ll be getting a steaming hot pot full of spicy chicken thigh topped with perilla leaves, onions and carrots that’s perfect when you mix it into a bowl of rice. It’s the closest thing to homestyle Korean cooking, with personable servers and a bona fide ajeumma (Korean auntie) back-of-house setting up the pots.

5. Gaenali Bon Ga

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8757 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 263-0308

Gaenali Bon Ga, named after the vibrant yellow forsythia flowers that announce the arrival of spring in Seoul, has a cornucopia of delicious Korean food options. Of particular note are the tender dwaeji bossam and agu-jjim, a monkfish stew chock-full of crunchy bean sprouts that’s perfect mixed into a bowl of rice.

6. Kaju Soft Tofu Restaurant

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8895 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 636-2849
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Kaju Soft Tofu is the local Garden Grove answer to BCD Soft Tofu down the street, and what an answer it is. Though the service can be downright atrocious at times, the banchan, better ambiance, and a cleaner tasting broth makes this establishment compare favorably to its chain-restaurant competitor.

7. So Moon Nan Wang Jok Bal

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8911 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 539-1010
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This small stand inside Garden Grove’s H-Mart food court produces traditionally prepared jokbal, or Korean pig trotters (those of the crumbly, thin-sliced variety) and sundae (Korean-style blood sausage) for the area’s Koreans-in-the-know. Packaged with kimchi and a variety of fixings, it’s a one-stop takeout dinner for folks in a hurry.

8. Peking Gourmet

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9092 Garden Grove Blvd A
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 539-5301
Visit Website

Great Korean-Chinese food is a distinction made by inches, and Peking Gourmet in Garden Grove nails down the Korean-Chinese basics with a soundness that’s hard to find elsewhere. The Garden Grove institution puts out amazing gingery, golden blistered gun-mandu (fried potstickers) and has one of the better tangsuyook (sweet and sour pork) dishes. The jjajangmyeon and jjampong can go toe-to-toe with any old-school Korean Chinese spot in Koreatown.

9. Ye Dang Korean Restaurant

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1351 S Beach Blvd Suite J-1
La Habra, CA 90631
(562) 943-3400

Ye Dang is a pricier option for food favored in Korea’s southern coast, but there’s no denying the quality of the restaurant’s various tangs, or broth-based stews. Alaskan pollack stew (saengtae jjigae) smacks of fresh clams and a mild kick in the finish that’s reminiscent of the best seafood huts adjacent Busan’s Jagalchi fish market.

10. Min Sok Chon

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9252 W Garden Grove Blvd # 29
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 638-7818

Min Sok Chon is Garden Grove’s answer to OB Bear, Dan Sung Sa, or Dwit Gol Mok, or (insert other Korean beer-and-soju watering holes here). What stands out about Min Sok Chon isn’t just how long it’s been around, but a great paper-fried-skin chicken (tong dak) that’s juicy all the way through, from white meat to dark. Add to that a killer corn cheese and a complimentary side of white radish pickles and you have enough delicious solid food to last you through your next few rounds of beer.

11. Im Bang Ah (Korean Bakery & Deli)

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9520 Garden Grove Blvd #12
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 638-4020

Outside of Kim Bang Ah in the Rodeo Galleria in Koreatown, Im Bang Ah is one of the last bastions of old-school Korean tteok (rice cake) bakeries in Southern California. Sure, there are fancy rice-cake slingers on every corner and grocery store in Koreatown, but this is where you go for those massive, elaborate rice cake displays at Korean weddings. Aside from grand displays, Im Bang Ah also puts out its perfectly chewy mochi-like rice cakes packaged for take-home and a great gimbap offering a la carte.

12. Gamja Tang House

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9567 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 530-1276

Gamja Tang House’s Buena Park location is an offshoot of the original Garden Grove Gaesung Gamjagol. The ajeumma helming the original Garden Grove location left her son in charge of that location, moved out to Fullerton to start a second location and changed the name of both storefronts. Gamja Tang House’s gamjatang, or spicy pork neck potato stew, is set apart from imitators in two major key ways: A high meat-to-bone ratio on the pork necks and a richly flavored stew that’s got just the right amount of heat and fresh, grassy kkaetnip (perilla leaves). Add to that the option to dip your already-spiced pork neck meat in a little wasabi-soy-sauce slurry, and it’s spicy, porky, delicious heaven. Be sure to come with a party of three or more if you don’t plan on taking one of the giant jeongol, or elaborate casserole dishes, home with you — the portions run pretty large.

13. Mo Ran Gak Restaurant

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9651 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 638-1177
Visit Website

Morangak’s varied menu offers Korean dinner classics including a rich galbitang, or short rib beef soup, and fried imyeonsoo, or atka mackerel executed to a rarified level of detail. The atka mackerel is gently fried, giving it a crunchy exterior that gives way to tender, salty flesh underneath. The fish is perfect with rice and the included homemade doenjang jjigae. A crunchy, perfect nokdujeon (savory mung bean pancakes) and, of course, the most delicious naengmyeon offerings in the Los Angeles area prove that Morangak is more than just a great barbecue spot, but a truly great Korean restaurant.

14. Han Nam Udon & Sushi

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12942 Galway St A
Garden Grove, CA 92841
(714) 539-5343

Han Nam Udon & Sushi is a hidden gem tucked away behind another mini mall, across the street from a laundromat. The key draw is the affordably priced Korean-style udon, which arrives hot with generous portions of noodles and puffy fried tofu that soak up the refreshing soy sauce-based broth.

15. Hangari Kalgooksu

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9916 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 537-0100

Hangari Kalgooksu has no relation to (the admittedly excellent) Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo in Koreatown, but it’s a serious player in a competitive space. Big, shareable pots of knife-cut-noodles cooked to just this side of al dente in a rich broth of clams and green onions are just part of the story here. Try the accompanying bori-bap (oat rice) and chonggak kimchi (baby-radish kimchi) for a truly authentic experience.

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1. Seoul Soondae

1 2 90701, 11750 Artesia Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

After multiple generations in business, the Garden Grove outpost of Seoul Soondae closed its doors in 2017. Not to fear: There’s still the Artesia location, so those of you can feed the real ajeoshi or ajeumma within with all the pig trotters and blood sausage soup your heart could possibly desire.

1 2 90701, 11750 Artesia Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701

2. Chil Po Korean Restaurant

17303 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

Chil Po Haemultang (formerly Won Jo Haemultang) has its specialty listed in its name: Haemultang, or a spicy Korean bouillabaisse, is a specialty of Incheon’s Bupyeong District, where an entire street dedicated to haemultang restaurants has invited fierce debate over which bowl of fiery seafood stew reigns supreme. More than a few native Koreans, however, swear by the one at Chil Po — it’s got serious heat and fresh seafood to give the broth a briny, spicy, refreshing quality. That said, haemultang might not even be the standout dish. Its hwangsil-bossam (imperial pork belly cabbage wraps) takes pork belly and simmers it with medicinal herbs and is served with a one-of-a-kind fermented-to-fizziness kimchi. The unique take on bossam might be one of the best renditions in the greater Los Angeles area, hands-down.

17303 Pioneer Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701

3. Jangmo Jip Restaurant

4877 La Palma Ave, La Palma, CA 90623

Jang Mo Jip specializes in...well, it wouldn’t be fair to say exclusively seollungtang (Korean beef soup). Jang Mo Jip is a purveyor of all forms of soup-and-rice, and the little hole in the wall puts out some of the best dogani tang (beef’s knee cartilage soup) and gukbap (spicy soup with rice) around at a more-than-fair price. Bonus points for ordering the kongnameul gukbap special: A clear, spicy soup of bean sprouts accompanied by a bowl of rice. It’s spartan, sure, but it’s usually not more than $6, and you’ll feel like a true Korean elder O.G. when you polish it off with some great kimchi.

4877 La Palma Ave
La Palma, CA 90623

4. Mhat Korean Restaurant

8412 Moody St, La Palma, CA 90623

Dakgalbi (chicken hot pot) is the name of the game at this phenomenal hole in the wall in a La Palma strip mall. With just a few tables and chairs, the specials are written on the board but you’ll be getting a steaming hot pot full of spicy chicken thigh topped with perilla leaves, onions and carrots that’s perfect when you mix it into a bowl of rice. It’s the closest thing to homestyle Korean cooking, with personable servers and a bona fide ajeumma (Korean auntie) back-of-house setting up the pots.

8412 Moody St
La Palma, CA 90623

5. Gaenali Bon Ga

8757 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

Gaenali Bon Ga, named after the vibrant yellow forsythia flowers that announce the arrival of spring in Seoul, has a cornucopia of delicious Korean food options. Of particular note are the tender dwaeji bossam and agu-jjim, a monkfish stew chock-full of crunchy bean sprouts that’s perfect mixed into a bowl of rice.

8757 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844

6. Kaju Soft Tofu Restaurant

8895 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

Kaju Soft Tofu is the local Garden Grove answer to BCD Soft Tofu down the street, and what an answer it is. Though the service can be downright atrocious at times, the banchan, better ambiance, and a cleaner tasting broth makes this establishment compare favorably to its chain-restaurant competitor.

8895 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844

7. So Moon Nan Wang Jok Bal

8911 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

This small stand inside Garden Grove’s H-Mart food court produces traditionally prepared jokbal, or Korean pig trotters (those of the crumbly, thin-sliced variety) and sundae (Korean-style blood sausage) for the area’s Koreans-in-the-know. Packaged with kimchi and a variety of fixings, it’s a one-stop takeout dinner for folks in a hurry.

8911 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844

8. Peking Gourmet

9092 Garden Grove Blvd A, Garden Grove, CA 92844

Great Korean-Chinese food is a distinction made by inches, and Peking Gourmet in Garden Grove nails down the Korean-Chinese basics with a soundness that’s hard to find elsewhere. The Garden Grove institution puts out amazing gingery, golden blistered gun-mandu (fried potstickers) and has one of the better tangsuyook (sweet and sour pork) dishes. The jjajangmyeon and jjampong can go toe-to-toe with any old-school Korean Chinese spot in Koreatown.

9092 Garden Grove Blvd A
Garden Grove, CA 92844

9. Ye Dang Korean Restaurant

1351 S Beach Blvd Suite J-1, La Habra, CA 90631

Ye Dang is a pricier option for food favored in Korea’s southern coast, but there’s no denying the quality of the restaurant’s various tangs, or broth-based stews. Alaskan pollack stew (saengtae jjigae) smacks of fresh clams and a mild kick in the finish that’s reminiscent of the best seafood huts adjacent Busan’s Jagalchi fish market.

1351 S Beach Blvd Suite J-1
La Habra, CA 90631

10. Min Sok Chon

9252 W Garden Grove Blvd # 29, Garden Grove, CA 92844

Min Sok Chon is Garden Grove’s answer to OB Bear, Dan Sung Sa, or Dwit Gol Mok, or (insert other Korean beer-and-soju watering holes here). What stands out about Min Sok Chon isn’t just how long it’s been around, but a great paper-fried-skin chicken (tong dak) that’s juicy all the way through, from white meat to dark. Add to that a killer corn cheese and a complimentary side of white radish pickles and you have enough delicious solid food to last you through your next few rounds of beer.

9252 W Garden Grove Blvd # 29
Garden Grove, CA 92844

11. Im Bang Ah (Korean Bakery & Deli)

9520 Garden Grove Blvd #12, Garden Grove, CA 92844

Outside of Kim Bang Ah in the Rodeo Galleria in Koreatown, Im Bang Ah is one of the last bastions of old-school Korean tteok (rice cake) bakeries in Southern California. Sure, there are fancy rice-cake slingers on every corner and grocery store in Koreatown, but this is where you go for those massive, elaborate rice cake displays at Korean weddings. Aside from grand displays, Im Bang Ah also puts out its perfectly chewy mochi-like rice cakes packaged for take-home and a great gimbap offering a la carte.

9520 Garden Grove Blvd #12
Garden Grove, CA 92844

12. Gamja Tang House

9567 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

Gamja Tang House’s Buena Park location is an offshoot of the original Garden Grove Gaesung Gamjagol. The ajeumma helming the original Garden Grove location left her son in charge of that location, moved out to Fullerton to start a second location and changed the name of both storefronts. Gamja Tang House’s gamjatang, or spicy pork neck potato stew, is set apart from imitators in two major key ways: A high meat-to-bone ratio on the pork necks and a richly flavored stew that’s got just the right amount of heat and fresh, grassy kkaetnip (perilla leaves). Add to that the option to dip your already-spiced pork neck meat in a little wasabi-soy-sauce slurry, and it’s spicy, porky, delicious heaven. Be sure to come with a party of three or more if you don’t plan on taking one of the giant jeongol, or elaborate casserole dishes, home with you — the portions run pretty large.

9567 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844

13. Mo Ran Gak Restaurant

9651 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

Morangak’s varied menu offers Korean dinner classics including a rich galbitang, or short rib beef soup, and fried imyeonsoo, or atka mackerel executed to a rarified level of detail. The atka mackerel is gently fried, giving it a crunchy exterior that gives way to tender, salty flesh underneath. The fish is perfect with rice and the included homemade doenjang jjigae. A crunchy, perfect nokdujeon (savory mung bean pancakes) and, of course, the most delicious naengmyeon offerings in the Los Angeles area prove that Morangak is more than just a great barbecue spot, but a truly great Korean restaurant.

9651 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844

14. Han Nam Udon & Sushi

12942 Galway St A, Garden Grove, CA 92841

Han Nam Udon & Sushi is a hidden gem tucked away behind another mini mall, across the street from a laundromat. The key draw is the affordably priced Korean-style udon, which arrives hot with generous portions of noodles and puffy fried tofu that soak up the refreshing soy sauce-based broth.

12942 Galway St A
Garden Grove, CA 92841

15. Hangari Kalgooksu

9916 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

Hangari Kalgooksu has no relation to (the admittedly excellent) Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo in Koreatown, but it’s a serious player in a competitive space. Big, shareable pots of knife-cut-noodles cooked to just this side of al dente in a rich broth of clams and green onions are just part of the story here. Try the accompanying bori-bap (oat rice) and chonggak kimchi (baby-radish kimchi) for a truly authentic experience.

9916 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844

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