Korea Town / LA Hotspots


When my family arrived in Los Angeles in 1969, there was no Koreatown just a handful of shops, restaurants and churches along Olympic Boulevard. Today Koreatown stretches all the way from Wilton Place to Hoover Street, and Pico Boulevard to Melrose Avenue, and it’s still expanding. The LA Korean population has grown from less than 10,000 in 1970 to an estimated 160,000 people, making it the largest concentration of Korean outside of Korea. That’s why I believe the Korean food is so good in LA in addition to the fact that Southern California has fresh greens and other ingredients all year long.    

Ranking System

  $   Very cheap (under $7 for a meal)    
  $$   Cheap (between $7 - $10)    
  $$$   Reasonable ($7 - $15)    
  $$$$   A bit pricey ($10 - $35)    
  $$$$$   Very expensive even for American standards    

  Food Quality    
  #   Don’t Drink the Water    
  ##   Okay    
  ###   Tasty    
  ####   Just like my mother’s cooking (and she’s the best)    
  L   Not authentic Korean enough    

  *   Bring your own toilet paper    
  **   Nothing to brag about but clean    
  ***   Nice (Can take company to)    
  ****   Impressive    
  <L>   Over the top (should have put the money towards the food)    

  English Friendly    
  J   Yes, they are English friendly    

  +   Free parking    
  ++   Valet    
  -   Available street parking    


ChoSun Galbe | $$$$ **** #### J ++ - -      
3330 W. Olympic Blvd., LA, CA. 90019; 323-734-3330    
chosun galbe

CG is known for their high quality meat. You can cook it yourself at the table if it’s a large enough order or to have the cooks prepare it in the kitchen.

BCD Tofu House | $$ *** #### J + - -      
3575 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA. 90010 213-382-6677    

Order the Korean BBQ & Tofu Soup combo (Soups come in mild, medium and very spicy)

Tahoe Galbi | $$$$ *** ## J ++ - -    
3986 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA. 90010 213-365-9000

Dragon Restaurant (Korean-Chinese Restaurant) | $$$ *** #### J ++      
966 S. Vermont Ave., LA, CA. 90006 213-387-8833    
Dragon Restaurant

Order the Ya-kee Mandoo (fried dumplings), Jja-jang-myun (you can only get this at a Korean-Chinese restaurant. It’s a black noodle dish. It is worth tasting at least once). My family has been going here since I was in the 3rd grade. It’s a family owned business. Now that says a lot.

Hodori | $$ *** #### J +      
1001 S. Vermont Ave., No. 102, (213) 383-3554    

This place stays open for 24 hours for those late night Korean cravings. It also has photos of all the food, which makes ordering easy. Beware: it’s very bright inside. Bring your sunglasses at night.

Dan Sung Sa | $$ ### **** J++ --      
3317 W. 6th St., LA, CA 90020 213-487-9100    
Dan Sung Sa
This place is straight out of the 50’s. It’s like walking back in time. Inside you’ll find a circular wooden bar where you can sit and order food and drinks. There are also booths and long benches for larger parties. The menu is written on wooden boards. No English menus. Just ask your server what he/she recommends. If you’re not into spicy food, order the pan fried seafood pancake. It’s yummy. If you’re looking for adventure, try the silk worms or pig’s feet. Note: smoking is allowed here. If you can’t take cigarette smoke I suggest you go before 8pm before it gets really bad.

Chungkiwa | $$$ *** #### J ++      
3545 W. Olympic Blvd., LA 90019 323-737-0809    

The specialty here is the BBQ’s using Black Angus beef. People come here for the kalbi & naengmyun combo. They also serve a generous selection of banchan (side dishes).

Kobawoo | $$$ *** #### J ++      
698 S. Vermont Ave. #109, LA, CA. 90005 213-389-7300    

Order the house special: the bossam, a combo of sliced pork belly and ultra spicy kimchi. The mungbean pancakes and potato pancakes are mouthwatering as well.

Park’s BBQ | $$$ ** #### J ++      
955 S. Vermont Ave., LA, CA. 90006 213-380-1717    

Park’s is a charcoal BBQ restaurant. Order any of the meat dishes and cook it at your table with friends. Plenty of tasty banchan (appetizers).

Yongsusan | $$$$ *** #### J ++ - -      
950 S. Vermont Ave., LA, CA. 90005 213-388-3042    

This is a very traditional, multi course meal. The portions are small because that’s the style, but you get many courses. The stuffed bosam kimchi is famous here.

Seoul Garden | $$$ *** #### J ++      
1833 W. Olympic Blvd., LA, CA. 90006 213-386-8477    

Korean-style Mongolian hot pot, similar to Shabu Shabu, with great beer and lots of vegetables.

Saritgol | $$$ *** #### J ++ - -      
3189 W. Olympic Blvd., LA, CA. 90006 213-387-0909    

This is a new find for me though my friend’s family has been going here for years. It’s my new favorite restaurant. It’s traditional home-style Korean cooking with lots and lots of delicious side dishes.

Noshi Sushi | $$$ ** #### J +      
4430 Beverly Blvd., LA, CA 90004 323-469-3458    

My family has being dining at Noshi since I was in the 10th grade. Today Noshi’s been invaded by trendy Hollywood folks. There’s always a line in the evenings so make sure you go inside and put your name on the white board. You can’t make reservations and they don’t take credit cards. CASH ONLY. Noshi is famous for its generous slices of sushi, so you get full for less money, unless you decide to indulge in saki. Try the spicy tuna roll. It’s the best I’ve ever tasted.

Restaurants Outside Korea Town Area

Woo Lae Oak | $$$$ **** ## J ++      
170 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211 310-652-4187    
woo lae oak

Woo Lae Oak caters mostly to non-Koreans and tourists on bus tours, so everything tastes watered down to me. I believe they charge for appetizers and even kimchi. I’d rather sacrifice ambiance for great food and lots of it.

Tofu Ya | $$ *** ### J --      
2021 Sawtelle Blvd., LA, CA 90025 310-473-2627    

Tofu Ya serves Korean BBQ and spicy tofu soup, similar to Tofu House, but they do not offer as many free appetizers. I eat at Tofu Ya when I’m craving Korean food but do not have the time to drive into Ktown. It’s a good alternative.

Daban | $$$ *** #### J+      
2139 Foothill Blvd., La Canada, CA 91011 818-248-9958    

Every time I visit my parents in Glendale or my sister in La Canada we eat at Daban. It’s in the Ross/Kinko mall. Plenty of free parking which makes life easy. Next door is a Tae Kwon Do martial arts studio where my nephew takes classes. On the other side I believe is a Korean market where you can buy goodies. Order any of the meat dishes. You get so much for your money and the quality is great. I also like the all the stews.

Ko Ryo Jung Korean B.B.Q Restaurant | $$$ *** #### J +      
1585 Sepulveda Blvd. #N, Torrance, CA 90501 310-534-0351    

Whenever I’m in Torrance and craving Korean food, my gal pal takes me here. It’s hearty. It’s fast (actually most Korean restaurants are quick). It’s authentic. I enjoy the stews and fish dishes. Try the Jogi Jorim (braised Croaker). It’s a bit spicy, but delicious.

Sorabol Korean Restaurant | $$ ** ## J +      
Century City Mall Food Court / 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Ste 620, Los Angeles, CA 90067 310-277-3772

If you like the food at Panda fast food restaurant then you’ll love Sorabol. Sorabol offers a healthier choice than Panda, but the food does sit in those heated bins. They do offer Bibimbab and other Korean favorites.


Hwa Sun Ji Tea & Coffee | $$$ **** #### + - -      
3960 Wilshire Blvd., #100, LA, CA; 90010 213-382-5302    
Hwa Sun Ji Tea & Coffee
Hwa Sun Ji Tea & Coffee

Relaxing and soothing atmosphere with private areas to sit. Try the different teas. They offer free rice cakes and cookies to nibble on plus free barley tea. Must order the pat bingsoo. It’s shaved ice with small chunks of watermelon, honeydew, mini rice cakes, and green tea ice cream all on top. You may get a server that doesn’t speak English. I told them they needed to hire someone who does. But if you get the one that doesn’t don’t worry they have an English menu.

Chasaengwon Tea Hous | $$$ **** #### + - -      
3839 Wilshire Blvd. #C, LA, CA. 90010    

They have tea tasting everyday. Not that many tables so it’s very quaint. I buy my teas and teapots here as gifts. It’s the highest quality.

Yong-Dong Hite Rounge | (unable to rate)      
3839 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA 90010; 213-384-8999    

Korea pub with Korean draft beer and Korean-style bar snacks including great spicy chicken wings and pig’s ear. Personally I’ve never visited this location. It’s a friend’s hot pick, but I’m always willing to try new things even pig’s ear. I’ve tried worse things before and it wasn’t Korean.
Feel free to hang out at Korean cafés. They don’t expect customers to vacate the tables as quickly as restaurants.


Aroma Wilshire Center| $$$ **** +- - ( 2 hours free with validation)      
3680 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA. 90010    


The spa caters to the upper crust of the community. It features mud baths, stone treatments, facials, and massages in private rooms. You must try the Korean scrub (exfoliation) treatments. For $30, you’ll get a full head to toe exfoliation. Dead skin from years back will fall off your body and you’ll be left with fresh pink skin. The scrub ends with a vigorous, but relaxing shampoo. Do not get a scrub every week. It’s best to get it done once a month or so, because your body needs the oils. But I think the scrubs keep Koreans looking younger than most. Also visit the food court and practice golf range.

Olympic Spa | $$ *** J ++ - - | (women only)      
3915 W. Olympic Blvd., LA, CA. 90019 323-857-0666    

Get the half hour body scrub (the best exfoliation ever) plus the 35 minute massage. If you do both you don’t have to pay the entrance fee, which is $15.
Unlike Aroma, Olympic, Natura and Beverly Hot Springs do not offer private rooms for your treatments. The treatment areas are sectioned off, but sometimes still visible. If you’re body conscious, this is not your thang, because you’ll be laying totally naked next to another women on a table getting her treatment. Be bold, get a scrub, don’t miss out! As far as facials are concerned get the Goddess Treatment. It’s $100. They use great French Products.

Natura Spa | $$ *** ++ - -      
3240 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA. 90010 213-381-2288    

I have not been here in while, but my non-Korean friends often go here and Olympic Spa.

Beverly Hot Springs | $$$$ *** J + - -      
308 N. Oxford Ave., LA, CA. 90004    

The entrance fee is around $40-$50 depending on what day of the week, but it’s worth it. BHS is a natural hot mineral spring in the middle of Ktown. The treatments are around $10 more than the other Korean spas (but still less than Burke Williams’ treatments). To get a better price on the entrance fee I buy a series of 25 tickets for $600. Buy your tickets from Eric because he always gives a few extra if you ask nicely. Just a note for the men. My straight guy friends enjoyed the water, but were uncomfortable with the large, non-Korean gay clientele in the men’s quarters. If it bothers you, try Natura, Aroma or Grand, which cater mostly to Korean clientele.

Century Sports Club & Day Spa | $$ ** J +      
4120 W. Olympic Blvd., LA, CA 90019 323-954-1020    

The great thing about Century is that it has two relaxing rooms. There’s the marble floor room and clay floor room. The floors are heated so it’s basically a sauna. Take your towel and take a nap for however long you can stand it. Hopefully your nap time won’t be invaded by a bunch of older Korean women chatting away or me and girl pals. Like Olympic Spa, Century has two hot tubs. One is filled with some kind of herb for overall health. Note: Century is also a favorite of my gay boyfriends.

Grand Spa | $$ *** ++ - -      
2999 W. 6th St., LA, CA. 90020 213-380-8889    

The Grand is open 24 hours and it’s cheap ($15 entrance fee). Many young people clubbing and partying in Ktown will trip into the Grand around 3AM and crash out in the sleeping area, which is one large common room. I say if you’re flying into LA for just a night, come with a small carryon and head straight for the Grand after your meetings. Shower, shave, soak and sleep. You can stay the entire next day and even order Korean food that’s made at the café/bar downstairs. Warning: Women do snore loudly.
BHS is the only spa that you have to be really quiet unless it’s just you and your friends, which can be a possibility. BHS is not that crowded surprisingly, but there are days like Mother’s Day that every mother treats herself. Also be warned that the female masseuses at every Korea spa all wear black bras and underwear as their uniforms. I don’t know the history behind it, but I’m guessing it’s because it doesn’t get as dirty and it’s more comfortable than wearing a bathing suit or damp uniform all day.
I would tip 15% to 20%. After your treatment, you may be given an envelope for the tip. You can give the envelope directly to your masseuse or to the front desk. If you like your masseuse and want to request her again remember her full name because there are so many Mrs. Kim’s, Mrs. Lee’s and Mrs. Park’s.

Spas Outside Korea Town

Foot Spa | $ ** +      
250 W. Valley Blvd., #B, San Gabriel, CA 91776    
This place isn’t even Korean, but I just had to include it. It’s my newest best find. It is a treasure in San Gabriel, part of which is basically a Chinatown. Here you can get an hour head/body/foot massage for just $15. YES. Fifteen dollars. I usually tip between seven and ten dollars because I feel so guilty and grateful. All the masseuses are from somewhere in China. None of them speak English but that doesn’t stop non-Chinese customers from coming back. They’re supposed to close around 10pm, but if you walk in later and it’s still open they’ll take your business. Most likely they’ll be a wait, so wait. But if you’re impatient walk across the parking lot to the other foot massage place. They offer a two-hour full body massage for $55. Such a deal. Believe me it’s worth the drive. While there dine at Fantasy Eatery in the 99 Ranch Mall. If you order over $35 worth of food you get a whole chicken dish for $1.

Malls / Markets

Koreatown Galleria | **** #### J + - -      
3250 W. Olympic Blvd.    

Try the food court, grocery store and especially the bakery. Korean bakeries are wonderful. Many Korean bakers have been trained in France, so the quality is amazing.

Howondang | $$$      
3250 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite#102, LA, CA 90006 323-734-7755    

Howondang is in the Koreatown Galleria, on the same level as the market. They offer traditional Korean pastries. The pastries come in lovely packaging. They make great gifts. Other locations are in Fullerton, Rowland Heights, and Northridge.

Koreatown Plaza | **** #### J +- - (free parking with validation)      
928 S. Western Blvd. (between James Wood and 9th St.)    

Inside the plaza, you’ll find everything from a Korean grocery store, bakery, cosmetics, clothing, music & video store, food court. Visit the bakery, grocery store, food court, and the Korean-Chinese restaurant (Mandarin House) on the ground floor. There is also a bookstore that a lot of our teachers like to visit during our fieldtrip.

Kim’s Home Appliance | $$ ** J + - -      
2940 W. Olympic Blvd., LA, CA 90006. 213-386-4882    

Every Korean housewife gets her knives, rice cooker, fancy tupperwear, chopsticks, ear pickers, suitcases here. What you can’t get here you go to Chung’s (on 7th and Wilshire Place) or IKEA.


(Please note I have never stayed at a hotel in Korea Town. But I selected the ones that are central and well known.)

Oxford Palace Hotel | **** J      
745 South Oxford Avd., LA, CA 90005 213-389-8000    
Oxford Palace Hotel

TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Garden Suite Hotel | *** J - -      
681 S. Western Ave., LA, CA 90005 213-368-6930    
Garden Suite Hotel

Average Customer Rating 3.75 out of 5. Teachers who attend our seminar from out-of-state remark that they thoroughly enjoyed their stay at the Garden Suite, appreciated the very gracious service, and the very comfortable accommodations in hotel rooms.

Radisson Wilshire Plaza Hotel | *** J      
3515 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA 90010    
Radisson Wilshire Plaza Hotel

Hotel Class 3 out of 5 stars

JJ Grand Hotel | ** J      
620 S. Harvard Blvd., LA, CA 90005 213-383-3000    
JJ Grand Hotel
Average Customer Rating 3 out of 5 stars
Of all the hotels, the Radisson caters to a mixture of guests. Koreans mostly stay at the JJ, Oxford, and Garden Suites. My favorite is the Oxford. They serve the best Korean food and have the best catering service. When you order for 100 people they’ll send over at least two servers to set up, serve and clean up, and they usually throw in enough portions for ten more hungry people. Now that’s Korean service!


Korean Bell of Friendship and Bell Pavilion      
3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro, CA 90731 310-548-7705    
Korean Bell of Friendship and Bell Pavilion

In 1976, the intricately decorated bronze bell and pavilion was donated by the Republic of Korea to celebrate the bicentennial of the U.S. Independence, honor Korean War veterans, and friendship between the two countries. The bell is rung only three times each year: 4th of July, August 15 (Korean Independence Day) and New Year’s Eve. The bell is located in the Angel’s Gate Recreational Center in San Pedro, CA.

Koreatown Parade & Festiva      

Usually it’s in mid September. The parade always travels down Olympic Blvd right through the heart of Ktown. The festival is held at the Seoul International Park just off Olympic. It’s free to the general public. The goal is to create awareness of the Korean culture and allows the community to interact with one another. At the festival, there are concerts, booths, food, and products.

Koreatown Parade & Festiva

Dal Ma Sa Temple (name of the temple, "Sa" means a temple.)      
3505 W. Olympic Blvd. (Entrance Wilton Place), Los Angeles, CA 90019    
Dal Ma Sa Temple

(On the corner of Olympic, across from the 76 gas station)
The temple is open to anyone who would like to visit or learn about Buddhism. Unfortunately, most of the people who do services at the temple do not speak English. KAFE does offer a tour of the temple during our five-day summer seminar.

Helie's Favorite Dishes

(Rice with assorted vegetables. Meat optional)


Dolsot bibimbap
(Bibimbap in hot stone pot)
Dolsot bibimbap


Soon Dubu
(Spicy tofu soup)
Soon Dubu


(marinated meet)


Mul Naengmyon
(Cold buckwheat noodles)
Mul Naengmyon


Miyeok Guk
(Beef and seaweed soup)
Miyeok Guk


Kimchi Chigae
(Spicy cabbage stew)
Kimchi Chigae


Mandoo Guk
(Korean dumpling soup)
Mandoo Guk


Doenjang Chigae
(Fermented soybean paste stew)
Doenjang Chigae


(vegetables and glass noodles stir-fried)


(rice, meat & vegetables wrapped in seaweed)


(Mung bean pancakes)


Samgye Tang
(Chicken soup with ginseng)
Samgye Tang


Jajang myun
(Chinese style noodles)
Jajang myun

Have a wonderful Korean Experience!!!!!