Like a Local – The best Korean restaurants in Los Angeles

by Jeff Rindskopf  |  Published January 22, 2016

Los Angeles is a hotspot of humanity where hundreds of cultures collide, making for a city filled with diverse people and diverse cuisines. Among other things, Los Angeles boasts of unique and authentic Korean restaurants, unsurprisingly clustered around the vibrant and centrally-located Koreatown neighborhood.

Soondae at Eighth Street Soondae (Photo: Louise Yang via Flickr)

Soondae at Eighth Street Soondae (Photo: Louise Yang via Flickr)

Eighth Street Soondae

In the grand tradition of Korean food that tastes far more delicious than it sounds, this Wilshire-adjacent hole-in-the-wall takes its name from the dish soondae, a blood sausage made from boiled pork or cow intestines. The resulting gray-colored dish is rich in savory goodness, whether you order it on its own, as part of a stir-fry dish, or in an equally rich soup broth. This unfussy eatery also serves goat soup, grilled mackerel and marinated beef, all for reasonable prices that will keep you coming back for more blood sausage.

2703 W 8th Street

Genwa Korean Barbeque

Two locations is hardly enough for a Korean barbeque joint like Genwa, where the clean modern décor is matched by twists on traditional Korean favorites. Their extensive menu is honestly a little overwhelming—luckily, their courses feature sampling of a few delicious offerings. Each is easily enough to fill up two or more people with bibimbap, kimchi dumplings and richly marbled slices of prime galbi that cook atop the grills built into the center of each table. Don’t forget to try the classic Korean drink Soju—a volatile but smooth spirit that’s best enjoyed in moderation.

5115 Wilshire Blvd

Soowon Galbi

Beef cooking at Soowon Galbi (Photo: Melissa via Flickr)

Beef cooking at Soowon Galbi (Photo: Melissa via Flickr)

One of the city’s best Korean barbeque restaurants situated in the heart of Koreatown, Soowon Galbi specializes in tabletop charcoal grilling with an impressive variety of beef and pork cuts that still look delicious raw. While your main course simmers and releases fragrance right on your table, diligent waiters will come around and help ensure each cutlet is charred to tender perfection while offering noodles, rice dishes, and diverse panchans (side dishes) to be enjoyed raw or fresh from your very own grill. Asking for more service is as simple as ringing the bell at the end of each table. Be sure to sample their macaron ice cream sandwiches once your main course is done.

856 S Vermont Ave, Suite C

Byul Gobchang

Another in a long line of Los Angeles Korean barbeque joints, this one separates itself from the pack by specializing in gopchang—intestines. While some might be put off by the idea of eating beef organs, or even by the strange, oblong sight of them, most will be instantly won over by the delicious smell of the sliced intestines frying alongside thick cuts of onion and hot peppers. Other adventurous but traditional Korean meats like pork neck and beef cheek abound, though maybe Byul Gobchang’s greatest claim to fame is its Soju, which is served with flavored vinegar poured directly into the bottle—a concoction as strange as it is tasty, served with many of the restaurant’s convenient combo plates.

3819 W 6th St

Han Bat Sul Lung Tang

Brisket Beef Soup at Han Bat Sul Lung Tang (Photo: David Wang via Flickr)

Brisket Beef Soup at Han Bat Sul Lung Tang (Photo: David Wang via Flickr)

The menu is simple at Han Bat Sul Lung Tang, centered around a delicious beef broth stew that comes with a choice between various types of beef—tongue, brisket, flank steak, intestine or a mix of all the above. Tender cuts of meat bathe in the rich broth filled with fragrant green onions and delicate noodles. As with most good Korean restaurants you’ll also be treated to a plethora of small side dishes, such as kimchi and kakkdugi (made with daikon, a kind of radish), that can add extra spice to your soup. Han Bat Sul Lung Tang is Korean comfort food at its best, and at its most reasonably priced.

4163 W 5th St

Get Bbul

A gem tucked away in the corner of one of the city’s myriad strip malls, Get Bbul has some of Los Angeles’s best offerings in Korean seafood, all served up inside a modest but immaculate restaurant with walnut-brown décor. Make use of the classic Korean barbeque tabletop grill yet again, this time with pescetarian-friendly fare like freshwater eel, octopus, clams and more. Raw slices of sushi-grade fish adorn their sashimi salad, and savory seafood pancakes have a satisfyingly delicious crunch to them that can only come from something fresh-fried. Try ordering a small seafood combo plate, which is decidedly large, and enjoy a bounty of fresh shellfish with distinct Korean seasonings you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in Los Angeles.

3189 ½ W Olympic Blvd

Eight Korean BBQ

Affiliated with an equivalent restaurant located in Seoul, South Korea, Eight Korean BBQ need not convince anyone of its authenticity. Like dozens of other barbeque joints in Koreatown, they feature a familiar roster of kimchi, bibimbap and soup, while specializing in pork belly. Their name refers to their eight distinct flavors of pork belly, from garlic and ginseng to wine and red pepper paste, that come served raw for you to grill at the table. There’s plenty to enjoy here, but most crowds come to sample a huge variety of seasonings atop one of the most delicious cuts of meat known to man.

863 S Western Ave

A street in Koreatown (Photo: Robb via Flickr)

A street in Koreatown (Photo: Robb via Flickr)

Oo-Kook Korean BBQ

With one location within the city and two inside Los Angeles County, Oo-Kook cooks up some of the highest quality meat of any restaurant in southern California. Each location is clean with an industrial-yet-homey sort of décor that invites familiar guests and the uninitiated to sample Korean cuisine that features delicious classics from both land and sea. They boast a menu of pork jowls and Kobe beef cuts alongside whole raw shrimp, baby octopus and sashimi bibimbap. The great food is matched with great service from a wait-staff that are quick to offer refills and additional dishes to make good on their “all-you-can-eat” policy.

3385 W 8th St