These Hotspots Bring Flavor and Culture to Koreatown
Koreatown is one of LA’s hottest neighborhoods for karaoke, late-night Hite beers and of course, some of the best Korean BBQ in the country. That said, while locals from all over the city flock to Koreatown to do some tabletop grilling, the culinary scene is home to a huge range of creative and quality cuisine. From new and exciting tasting menus to some of the most authentic Oaxacan mole in Los Angeles, this town is a historic hub of diversity and culture. We’ve rounded up some of the best restaurants in Koreatown (that aren’t just Korean BBQ).
Kinn is the latest and greatest upscale Korean restaurant located in the heart of Koreatown. This innovative restaurant brings an exciting new experience to this historic neighborhood with a six-course tasting menu for only $79. The $22 octopus add-on is 100% worth the extra cost for seafood lovers. Each course is artfully prepared, and if you snag a seat at the bar top, you’ll be treated to both dinner and a show as you watch the chefs work their magic. Kinn also has an impressive wine and sake list for some perfect pairings.
Sun Nong Dan
Need to cure your craving for Korean food at 3:30 a.m. after a night out? Sun Nong Dan is a 24-hour hot spot that has you covered. Despite the fact that the space is very small, it maintains a sense of coziness and authenticity that guests appreciate. The food is traditional, ranging from hot soups to soo yook plates that feature different proteins. If you want to try a little of everything, the Koh Galbi Jjim specialty is a sharable option that comes with braised beef short ribs, back rib and oxtail.
Biriyani Kabob House
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Biriyani Kabob House brings a taste of South Asia to the Koreatown culinary scene. The Pakistani and Indian fare is full of flavor, specializing in biryani and kabobs–as the name suggests. The biryani rice dishes are served with everything from lamb and egg to veggies, making this casual eatery a go-to for those seeking a filling meal on the go. Most of the kabobs are cooked in a tandoori oven, resulting in perfectly charred meats that are coated in quality spices and marinades.
The Oaxacan mole at Guelaguetza will definitely have you saying, “Holy mole!” All puns aside, Guelaguetza brings culture and tradition to the forefront of its creations, using family recipes that have been passed down through generations. Since opening its doors in 1994, Guelaguetza has been a staple for locals looking for tried and true mole negro, mole rojo, mole verde and more. The mole negro is a chocolate classic that is served with either chicken breast or legs and a side of rice.
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Ever heard of Korean food served tapas-style? Tokki is a modern and more upscale joint serving just that. The Korean fare at Tokki has a contemporary twist that is met with smaller plates perfect for sharing, making Tokki a solid spot for a GNO or date night in Koreatown. The Hokkaido scallops are a light and savory starter, while the uni toast takes luxe Korean cuisine to the next level. Just be sure to save room for the refreshing lychee panna cotta for dessert.
Caught a craving for classic Korean BBQ? Bulgogi Hut offers an all-you-can-eat experience for the books, featuring sliced-to-order meats that you can cook to perfection right at your table. The scene at Bulgogi Hut is fun and upbeat thanks to K-Pop videos playing across the many television screens throughout the restaurant. Patrons can choose between the Deluxe Menu ($36 per person) or the Premium Menu ($48 per person). Bulgogi Hut also has a solid happy hour menu that is only $28 per person, Monday through Friday until 4 p.m.
If you’re a fan of K-Pop group BTS, then you’ll be thrilled to dine at their favorite restaurant, Ahgassi Gopchang. One thing that sets Ahgassi Gopchang apart from the competition is that they make all of their own sauces and marinades in-house, resulting in bold flavors that are traditional and tasty. Though classic Korean BBQ dishes like the pork combo are popular, Ahgassi Gopchang is best known for its roasted beef intestines. While this dish might be unfamiliar to some, it is a Korean delicacy that is worth giving a chance.
Le Comptoir is another elegant Koreatown restaurant that serves an eight-course tasting menu that is very veggie-forward. In fact, most of the ingredients used in each course are sourced from Le Comptoir’s very own garden. Though Le Comptoir has a fine-dining feel, Michelin-starred chef Gary Menes decided to opt for a more laid-back and intimate setting. Guests can sit at the 10-seat counter to enjoy an up-close-and-personal view of the prep and delivery of each plate. The prix fixe menu is $175 per person, and there is also an optional wine pairing for another $120.
Allie Lebos graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017 with a BA in Communication. While in school she was a staff writer at The Daily Nexus for nearly two years. Since graduating she has written for The Palisades Magazine, as well as Hidden Hills Magazine. Currently living in Santa Monica, Allie loves to indulge in good food, hot yoga, and daily walks along the beach; writing articles on travel, special events, as well as features on local businesses and individuals.