Things to do in Koreatown, Los Angeles
Koreatown is an ethnically diverse area in Central Los Angeles. More specifically, it is located near the Eighth and Irolo streets, westward to MacArthur Park. Not just a place for the Korean community in Los Angeles, Koreatown has ties to the African American and Latino populaces that form a significant chunk of its population: more than half. As such, LA’s Koreatown is a place that you must visit for a diverse experience. Around two thirds of the neighborhood is composed of people who were born outside of the US. There are a lot of things to do here, and you’re in for a treat and a packed week if you’re planning a trip here. So we’ve compiled a list for you in case you want to or are planning to visit Koreatown. We’ve divided this article into four rough categories that explore the best restaurants, cafes, shopping centres and bars. While these places are too many for a single trip, it will be worth your while to pick and choose the best of them before you visit Koreatown. With no more delay, let us take a look at the best of things to do in Koreatown.
Restaurants in Koreatown
Eating in Koreatown can be a really wonderful experience for you. Having a bite here should certainly be on your list of things to do. Enjoy authentic Korean cuisine along with classic American snacks with a unique twist: Koreatown has it all. Stroll through the walkable neighborhood and try the best in food here Keeping this in mind, here is a list of what we think are the best restaurants in Koreatown. Be sure to make the most out of this list
Kobawoo House was established in 1985 and has been serving locals and tourists alike with their delicious steamed pork belly, or, bossam. The interior of the restaurant is mesmerizing, with quaint wooden booths that are absolutely ideal for a private evening. A visit to Koreatown is definitely incomplete without visiting the Kobawoo House. Try their large bowl of pork belly or have a smaller lunch for a reduced price. Whatever you do, you’re bound to have a fun time if Kobawoo House is on your list of things to do when in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed your experience here.
Come here if you are on a low budget after spending most of your money on other stuff at Koreatown. Jeon Ju is a great place to feed your family and friends as they offer a really large menu with extremely convenient prices. Their specialty is Galbi Dolsot Bibimbap, a dish of marinated prime rib in a hot stone pot. Snack while you wait for the rice to get crispy and toasted. This restaurant is a must visit if you wish to indulge in an authentic Korean experience. This restaurant should definitely be on your list of the best things to do at Koreatown LA if you’re a tourist, or even a local.
Have your fill at the Wako Donkasu by trying out their special pork cutlets. Served with cabbage salad, miso soup, rice and a tangy sauce. You can add crushed sesame seeds in your tonkatsu sauce for additional flavour. This Korean restaurant serves Japanese food with a Korean twist.
This Mexican restaurant is known for its phenomenal food. Its authentic Mexican food comes in massive platters with accompanying live music. It is a wonderful spot when it comes to family dinners and gatherings. Book a table, order some queso fundido and have some mezcal to check off eating at one of the best restaurants you’ll find in Koreatown. Their other specials include Festival de Moles and Tlayuda Guelaguetza.
Find the Hotel Normandie to locate the Cassell’s Hamburger joint. This restaurant is rather old and was kept up and running for around 65 years, until it closed down and was thought to be gone for good. However, it reopened again inside the Hotel Normandie. Try the burgers here, they are absolutely delightful with melting cheese and a juicy patty. The restaurant also has a great dessert menu, with the Banana Cream pie being recommended highly. Other recommendations: try the cheeseburgers here with some patty melt.
Ham Ji Park
Back to some Korean food, try this barbeque restaurant on 6th Street. Serving delicious food that is grilled and barbecued to perfection, this hot restaurant serves enormous portions that you absolutely cannot finish on your own. What to do then? Well, bring a couple of your friends and have the most juicy meal, or meat, you’ll get anywhere. The pork spare ribs along with the pork neck stew is just a killer combination that you absolutely must try. If you’re visiting Koreatown as a tourist, trying this enormous meal out should be quite on top of your list of things to do while at Koreatown.
This Korean restaurant is known for its serene ambience and quiet atmosphere. It is located in the outskirts of the Koreatown neighborhood, away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. Unlike other restaurants in the list where you can find the tables echoing with music and large gatherings of people partying, the Mapo Galbi is a rather quaint little place to escape from the crowds. Their food is simple yet exquisite. For example try the dak galbi which is a dish of vegetables and chicken served alongside rice noodles. It is rather spicy and intense in its flavours. The dish also has a second course which is rice served crispy. Want to make a list of things to do in Koreatown, be sure you visit Mapo Galbi and take a gander at their delightful menu.
This French experimental restaurant is a great place to spend time while in Koreatown. This restaurant has a prix fixe menu at $90 and has a classic decor to it. The food is absolutely delectable, with dishes sourced from an Urban Garden at Long Beach. Come here with your friends and host the best dinner party you can give within the huge windows and serene atmosphere of Le Comptoir. Their specialties include an 8 course Prix-Fixe with delightful food and classic vibes of what you should expect from an experimental French restaurant.
If you like sushi then Sushi One at Koreatown is the place for you to be. The place serves Omakase, which means “to entrust” in Japanese. Basically, you leave it to the chef to serve you, instead of deciding what you want. Trust us, Sushi One will not disappoint you. For $65 you get two gigantic portions of appetizers, sushi, salmon roe and steamed eggs in a pot with clams. We’d like to believe that this is an offer that one cannot usually refuse, especially if the place happens to be one of the most elite restaurants in Los Angeles. A visit to Koreatown is incomplete without Sushi One being on your list of things to do, and rightly so. Come here and start your night with food prepared with absolute care, and then delve into the streets of Koreatown for other things to do because the night would still be young.
Most restaurants in this list of things to do at Koreatown are restaurants with ambient decor and fine dining. Well, that is the general description of a restaurant. However, if you are one of those people who just love partying in the absolute sense of it, then Ddong Ggo is the place for you. The place is loud and is frequented by all the party animals in Koreatown. Fun fact, the name of this place, Ddong Ggo, translates to ‘butthole’. Well I think it is not a long stretch to imagine what a blowout this place can be. Come here on weekend and be mesmerized watching people in for a fun night with drinking towers and platters of food. You are allowed to smoke in the patio, and a lot of people do, so if you are cool with it you are in for a rather special night as this restaurant is definitely one of the most fun ones in Koreatown. Their specialty is the Honey Fried Chicken. Also be sure to try the Kimchi seafood pancakes.
Cafes in Koreatown
Lota Brew Cafe
As the name suggests, Iota is a ‘ultra modern’ cafe, complete with a novel design that drips modernity. There are a lot of flat screen monitors that show Kpop videos that you can enjoy as you sip your coffee. Truly a coffee house, you’ll find screens with pictures that explore the wonderful process of coffee roasting. If you’re into social media, this is the thing to do at Koreatown. Socialise with people by posting instagrams of the wonderful food available here and make new friends in the cafe sipping their exceptional coffee. Iota roasts its own coffee, courtesy of the coffee roaster sitting in a corner. Their coffee game is rather exceptional, you can find all sorts of coffee here to suit your taste. What’s more, their food game is on point too. Try their Italian pasta in a sauce of your choice. Salads, quesadillas, macarons, from savoury foods to desserts for your sweet tooth, you name it, they have it. Come to the Iota Brew Cafe to start your evening before you descend into the streets of Koreatown for a fun filled night. Find it at 528 S. Western Ave. in the neighborhood.
Cafe Loft offers a lot of coffees, teas, and desserts like cakes. Aptly named, Cafe Loft has high ceilings with a disco ball hanging from it. Enjoy classical music and with the fin de siecle Vienna decor that amalgamates with modernity using huge wall mirrors and exposed lightbulbs. There are two levels of seating, with the upper floor a bit warmer than the lower, so plan your evening at this coffee house according to the LA sun.
Haus has connections to Iota: it was owned by Brian Chong and was bought by Chris Kim, a Korean food personality in 2013. Haus offers some of the most expensive coffee cups in town , including the Kona coffee which is usually not present anywhere except Hawaii and Japan. There are other brews such as African and American varieties for you to choose from. At Haus you will be cared for in more ways than one, from exceptionally crafted cups to an attractive decor. The coffee here is just excellent and even though a little steep on the pocket, this place is one that you must try as part of your list of things to do while in Koreatown. The food here is also delectable, you can try from a wide range of comfort food items and attempts at Korean-Western fusion. Example: Bulgogi and Mozzarella Panini. Located at 3826 W. Sixth St, Koreatown, Haus opens early in the morning: 7 AM and also remains open and lively till the night. Come here with large groups and find the ambience rather accommodating and comforting.
BrewWell is a rather remarkable place given the fact that it is in Koreatown. Its short menu, coupled with a line to order makes it different from the other places at Koreatown. However, even though it is different, you will feel right in place due to the bright windows that lend a great view of the Koreatown streets. The wooden decor is rather calming. The cafe prepares excellent food, some examples of which are quiches and hand pies. Calm the hot LA sun with some beautiful sorbets. BrewWell is located within the Assi supermarket, 3525 W. Eighth Street and such becomes a hub for a lot of things to do at Koreatown. You can choose to enjoy the cafe’s ambience inside, admiring the brightness outside, or you may choose to sit and relax in any of the seats on the outdoor patio. The outdoor seating area is pretty large, actually large enough to seem a bit odd. It is because of things like these that BrewWell seems like a place that is a bit odd in Koreatown. However, you may end up liking the cafe for the very reason as it gels in so beautifully with the neighborhood despite maintaining its own identity. Well, even if BrewWell seems to distant from the Koreatown aesthetic, just find a hoddeuk vendor right outside the marketplace. This is a savoury pancake filled with cinnamon, sesame, sugar, peanuts and honey; an absolute delight for the sweet tooth, and just the perfect side dish to a cup of coffee.
The Cafe (Line Hotel)
The Cafe at the Line Hotel is perhaps the future of the coffee scene in Koreatown. The recently opened Line Hotel has a lobby which serves the most up and coming coffee of Koreatown. What’s more, find awesome Taiwanese style buns, European pastries, and American sheet cake. The lobby at the Line Hotel is a really good place for meetings and for having a bite with your friends before you start the night. If you are planning on having a drinking night, visit this place and order a Hawaiian pull apart bread for some carbs in your system before a soju filled evening of revelry. Find the Line Hotel and its cafe at 3515 Wilshire Blvd.
Coffee, dessert, and delicious meals, what’s not to love at Koreatown’s Caffe Concerto. The place is pretty comfortable and relaxing owing to its classic decor and atmosphere. The coffee house is located at 610 S Serrano Ave Los Angeles. Grab some Intelligentsia coffee after finishing a filling meal followed by some macarons as dessert. We highly recommend that you visit Caffe Concerto as it is one of the best things to do in Koreatown with your friends and loved ones.
If you’re at the CGV cinemas in the plaza, then you shouldn’t miss enjoying a cup of some excellent coffee at this wonderful coffee house. It is located at 621 S Western Avenue Ste LA, and is home to some of the best coffee in Koreatown. With both indoor and outdoor seating, Klat has a lot of space for you to enjoy in. A combination of Klat’s coffee and the pleasant Los Angeles weather could be the highlight of your Koreatown trip. Enjoy beautiful latte art, or just grab some cold coffee while you’re at it if you find the day too sunny. Either way, we don’t think you can go wrong with your choice of coffee here. Try it out for yourself the next time you are there.
Yellow House Cafe
Come to Yellow House Cafe for some great coffee along with the finest Korean comfort food. Located at 234 S Oxford Avenue LA, the Yellow House Cafe is a great place for a private evening. The ambience is great here. The decor of the cafe is pretty calming and relaxing. The outdoor patio is well lit by some beautiful lighting that you can enjoy with your coffee. This cafe is one of the best things to do in LA’s Koreatown and should definitely be on your list of things to do when you visit.
Document Coffee Bar
Experience delightful customer service at the Document Coffee Bar. The coffee here is prepared with utmost care for each and every detail. As such, the patrons of this coffee house flock back to it again and again for their strong flavours and beautiful latte art. Located at 3850 Wilshire Blvd Ste 107 LA, the Document Coffee Bar is the place for you if you are a coffee enthusiast
Tom N Toms
Tom N Toms coffee remains open 24 hours, which is a great thing as there is never a bad time for coffee. Located at 3974 W Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, Koreatown, Tom N Toms is a must have on your list of things to do while in Koreatown as it is the standard when it comes to Koreatown coffee. Be sure to visit at least once.
Shopping in Koreatown
Koreatown has more shopping malls than any other three square miles in America. Shopping in Koreatown would let you choose from the best in restaurants, malls, dessert and coffee houses along with venues that entertain like movie theatres and antique shops. Read on more to find out about the best places to shop in Koreatown.
Koreatown Plaza is a three storey shopping mall that was among the firsts in Koreatown. It is located at Western and 9th Street and has over seventy shops for you to choose from. Spending a day at the Koreatown Plaza should definitely be on your list of things to do while at Koreatown. With skin care shops, grocery stores, home goods, jewelry and food, a lot of food. Enjoy a great meal at the International Food Court that serves delectable street food. Here are some more details on what you can find in the Koreatown plaza if you’re here to shop:
- Enjoy a couple of hours scanning the Music Plaza. If you’re a K-Pop fan then this is the place for you to be.
- Find stationary, K-Pop paraphernalia, Hello Kitty, and Korean Plush toys at the Fancy House.
- ABC Plaza is the place to be for home goods such as Korean and English cookware.
- Find designer handbags and shoes from Parashu, Rodeo Handbag and Milano.
- All your skin care needs will be taken care at Aritaum/Amore and Cosmetics Plaza.
Food at the Koreatown plaza hosts some great names such as Cheesetella and Awoolim. Find Castella at Cheesetella, a very light and delicate sponge cake that is either filled with cheese, cream or chocolate. Try the iced Da Bang coffee with it. Awoolim, which is right next door, serves kimbap (sushi rolls without raw fish), tteokbokki (sauce and rice cylinders) and Korean style tacos. Wash it all down with the Sikhye Slushie- sweetened rice and barley powder blended into a ice slushie. Other great places are Seoul Soondae House Two (great Korean Sausages here), Hot Tofu, Tonkatsu House and Pa Jao Dumpling House.
MaDang the Courtyard
Located at the corner of Western and Wilshire, MaDang the Courtyard is a three storey shopping and entertainment center. This is a demographically mixed area with movie theatres with Korean films with English subtitles and English ones with Korean. Maintaining the unique Koreatown aesthetic with great subtlety, MaDang is definitely the place to be and do while you’re in Koreatown. Take a look at the things to do in MaDang here:
- Beneath the MaDang Plaza, find H Mart for all the Korean and Asian essentials. If you are visiting Koreatown for the Korean aesthetic, this should definitely be on your list of things to do. Marinated foods and meat, sea food, sushi, you name it, you’ll find everything in MaDang Plaza. Even American goods such as McConnell Ice-cream.
- Ktown is a Korean food stall vendoring traditional dishes.
- Find everything for $1.50 at Daiso, a Japanese chain store. Bento boxes, utensil paraphernalia, stationary, origami tools and even cosmetics, find all you want at Daiso.
- Find more cosmetic items at Cosmetic world, with brands like Clinique, SK II, Fresh, Shiseido, and Clarins.
- More cosmetics at The Face Shop, a small and quaint little establishment selling natural cosmetics. Find it on the street side on Western.
- Aladdin books sells old Korean and English books, DVDs etc.
- Bobo’s is the place to go for luxury items like Chanel handbags and accessories that are second hand but still in great shape.
Food at MaDang features some of the finest at Koreatown. For example, Sul & Beans is a great dessert place selling bingsoo in a variety of flavours. Another great dessert place is Somi Somi. We really recommend visiting the Chocolate Chair, a confectionary and dessert place that just takes it away with its specialty: Dragon’s Breath. It is a dessert of liquid nitrogen ice cream balls that produces a smoke-like effect out of your mouth and nose while eating (hence the name). Klat Kafe, one that we’ve already discussed in this article, serves casual fast food along with waffles, desserts and other delectable items. Reiterating their special: Ribeye Kimchi Fried Rice. Absolutely delightful! Other great places to eat here are Beard Papa’s and Hansol Noodle. Find delectable cream puffs at the former and naengmyeon in the latter. Experience delightful self service of pastries, bread, frozen desserts and more at the Paris Baguette Bakery Cafe to cap off your trip to Koreatown LA.
Located at 3250 W. Olympic Blvd., LA, the Galleria Market at Koreatown is the largest Korean market in the Los Angeles area. The ground floor of the Koreatown Galleria plays host to this market which has over seventy stores and the Food Gallery, an Asian food court. Find Korean, Japanese and Chinese products for sale here alongside a huge collection of groceries and seafood. To name a few examples: fishes, sashimi, octopuses, abalone, prawns, lobsters, and Dungeness crabs. Visit the banchan bar that has delectable side dishes of clams, octopus, pickles, kimchi and lotus roots. They also offer DIY barbecuing, which is really interesting as you can find marinated meats in a self service area. With so many things to offer, a trip to Koreatown Galleria and the Galleria Market should certainly be one of the top things to do in Koreatown. Find the Cake House bakery here, the Dong Bang Me In (rice cake bakery) and the VNS Chicken, along with other stalls like pharmacies and flower shops.
Also, located in the basement of the Koreatown Galleria is the Kitchen Plus, a hidden warehouse store. To reach this place you will need to read the directions in this article or learn Korean, as the directions to this store at the Galleria are in the language. Board the elevator to P-1 in the garage. Take a left out of the elevator to enter a food warehouse that sells enormous bags of cheap goods (shrimps, noodles etc.). Find Kitchen Plus using a small sign pointing you to it. For exceptional prices find towering aisles filled with goods imported from Korea crafted for the intricacies of Asian cooking. This place usually provides materials to restaurants and if you’re lucky to find it, it will provide you with the best kitchenware at prices that you wouldn’t believe.
A floral studio in Koreatown, Karen’s Garden not only provides flowers for weddings, special events and individuals but also designs exotic plants as per their customer’s considerations. Not only that, they also deliver flowers. Visit Karen’s garden to pick out some beautiful flowers for yourself and your loved ones.
Sixth Sense Los Angeles
This recently opened establishment is an accessories and home furnishing store that is family owned. The prices here might surprise you. For the finesse and perfection of their products, you’d expect prices large enough to consider the place fit only for window shopping. But like we said, you’d be surprised. $150 for a pair of exquisite marble tables, $250 for a sideboard. Along with an awesome collection of gift items like frames, tableware, and other goods to furnish your home, Sixth Sense also offers interior design services and custom work for which you will be charged accordingly. If you’re a tourist in Koreatown, while you won’t be able to pick up all that they have to offer, be sure to visit to maybe grab a small souvenir to take home. Either way, a trip to check this place out is definitely worth it and must be on your list of things to do in Koreatown LA.
Palace Beauty Metro
The Palace Beauty Metro is a beauty store located at 3183 Wilshire Blvd LA. By the way, Palace Beauty stores are there in all Korean Malls, but this place in Koreatown is rather special. Find branded Korean products representing Whoo, AHC, O HUI, IASO, Isa Knox, Sooryehan, LJH, IPKN, Ossion etc. The place also has a lot of European and American brands, maintaining the diversity of the already diverse region that is LA’s Koreatown. Be sure to visit this place if you’re into beauty products and add it to your list of things to do in Koreatown.
There is an iron sign at the place which says Chapman Market, the earlier name for this place. It occupies an entire block and is housed in an marvellous Spanish Baroque revival building built in 1929. It features eateries and shops that face inward into a small parking lot. Take a gander at few of the shopping centers at Chapman Plaza here:
- Visit the Fashion Rialto that houses American and European brands.
- Shibuyala is a rather cute cosmetics store that has everything from Sanrio products to high end imports.
Food at the Chapman Plaza features some great and popular names that definitely should be on your list of things to do in Koreatown. Kanghodong Baekjeong is a Korean BBQ. Try the Ouarters BBQ’s modern and innovative menu. Also visit the Gaam Restaurant and Lounge along with Cafe Cielito offering desserts, drinks and casual food. Snow Monster serves ice cream sandwiches with other stuff like homespun cotton candy and more. Toe Bang is a rather fun dive bar and restaurant. Visit the Curio City Coffee for some great coffee with pastries and cookies.
City Center on 6th
Find stores such as the Zion SuperMarket, Cake House, Crystal Spa and EMC Seafood at this three storey retail store at 6th Street and Alexandria. Take a look at some more retail stores at the city center by reading more of this article:
- Find imported stationery and other trinkets at the Fancy Shop.
- If you like sales then you should definitely visit the Cali Shoes and Handbags.
- Find more designer merchandise at Soho on 6th.
- The Face shop will cater to all your beauty and cosmetic needs.
- Find an all purpose spa for both men and women in the Crystal spa.
There is great food to explore at the City Center on 6th. Examples include places like the Zion Supermarket, which sells special Korean goods. The prices are great and the selection of snacks and eatables you can find here is enormous. There is another place, the Cocohodo where you’ll find individually wrapped walnuts and red bean pastes. Try the bungeoppang at Zion catering. The Cake house is also located nearby, selling exquisite Korean baked goods. If you like seafood, then you have to try the EMC Seafood that has a magnificent collection of oysters, clams, sushi, uni and other stuff such as noodles and starters. All in all, a trip to Koreatown is incomplete without visiting the City Center on 6th.
Bars in Koreatown
The drinking scene in Koreatown is just magnificent. A lot of the places mentioned above in this article are places you should begin your night by eating and then visit the countless bars and pubs in Koreatown. With this spirit (pun intended) let us take a look at some of the best bars in Koreatown for you to cap off your days in the neighborhood.
Beer belly is the best place in Koreatown if you’re into beer. They have an impressive selection, with over twelve California drafts and even more canned and bottled beers. The bartenders here will surely recommend the best for you, and they won’t be wrong. Have your drink with the best selection in food, like the Death by Duckfat fries and the four layer grilled cheese sandwich. The place is always packed and you’d be lucky if you’re able to find a table but if you do, you’re in for a great night.
EMC Seafood & Raw Bar
Great selection of wines at the EMC bar coupled with some excellent food. Seems like a great idea for a night out. Trying out this bar should definitely be on your list of things to do at Koreatown. Try their $1 oyster special during the happy hour with some great beer or wine. A rather filling meal. The thing to try out here is the seafood, definitely. Also try their cocktails such as the whiskey flip and Moscow Mule alongside a special sangria drink dubbed the “Hello Kitty”.
Lock and Key
Escape the bustle of Ktown by entering the Lock and Key, an upscale bar at the corner of Vermont and 3rd Street. Once you enter here, you’d be greeted with a guessing game that is a wall of door knobs of which only one is enterable. Delve into the roaring 20s and find a short but delectable menu of bar foods that would go along perfectly with your drinks.
Call them before you plan to visit as entering the R Bar requires a password. Koreatown is filled with places that are fun even before you enter them, and R Bar is certainly one of them. Their week is filled with different activities everyday: Monday is the day for Metal, its Karaoke Nights on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Find a DJ playing tunes on a Saturday along with trivia night, storytelling and live music. The bar rotates its drink specials and weekend brunches are a special that you just cannot miss.
A nautical themed bar, the HMS bounty is located in the ground floor of a high rise building in Koreatown. For $5 get the beer and shot specials. A happy hour cheeseburger is the way to go as it is inexpensive and absolutely delectable. Cheap and great, the HMS Bounty is the bar to go to as you can spend as much here for an entire night as you would for one cocktail at any other bar in Koreatown.
A Special Mention: Exploring Koreatown on Foot
Koreatown is a rather small area. While most of the items on this list are ones fixed on to places, it is worthwhile to spend some time navigating the neighborhood on foot. Walking around Koreatown is definitely one of the things that should be on your list of things to do. Our recommendation, grab a map and plan out your route with the stops listed in this list. Stroll through the Koreatown streets and take in all the great sights it has to offer. Grab a bite at a place you spot and then set off again to explore. Have a light meal somewhere in the evening and then shop before you finally end the night in one of the Koreatown bars.
Conclusion for Things to do in Koreatown
Here it is then, an all done list of the best things to do at Koreatown. We’ve explored restaurants, shopping centres, cafes and bars for you and we hope that this answers a lot of your queries on what to do while in Koreatown. Be sure to leave comments below if you feel like there are places we have missed and definitely comment if you have been to these places to share your experience with us. We hope you enjoyed scrolling this article. With this we’re gonna close off our list of things to do at Koreatown. Happy travelling.