Not every major city has a Koreatown and Los Angeles is especially famous for their version. If you are craving high quality Korean food, this is your #1 destination outside of Korea for quick, delicious and insanely affordable meals. There are a lot of great restaurants in Ktown that are already famous. For example, Ktown has many all you can eat Korean Barbeque places (Chosun, Quarters, etc.), tofu soup places (BCD Tofu House), etc. I want to introduce you to some hidden gems that are not as famous as their neighbors but are still worth trying!
1. Grab a morning coffee at Alchemist Coffee Project
We recommend starting off the morning with your daily choice of caffeine in this extremely relaxed, hip cafe.
This cafe serves coffee from Intelligentsia, a local LA favorite. I also tried the green tea latte which was divine. The cafe also serves an assortment of pastries and light lunch options including salads or panini sandwiches.
There's ample seating and music playing in the background. I saw plenty of outlets for laptop use. Bonus points as this cafe does have a parking area which can be a struggle to find in LA!
2. Eat noodles at Yu Chun
Yu Chun is famous for their Korean cold noodle soup (mul naengmyun). The soup is a chilled broth with chewy long buckwheat noodles, Korean radish, hard boiled egg, and slices of brisket. It's a great soup to eat on a hot summer day, but I personally enjoy it all year round.
You can also order it as a combo meal with a side of galbi or marinated short rib. The hot short ribs complement the chilled broth.
Yu Chun also has a self serve hot broth (yuksu) station which is rare to find. Instead of tea, you can drink an unlimited amount of this rich hot beef broth. The mul naengmyeon only costs $11 and there is plenty of seating inside the restaurant.
3. Grab dessert at Somi Somi
Taiyaki ice cream is becoming a huge trend and more taiyaki ice cream shops are starting to pop up at various locations. After trying taiyaki ice cream in San Francisco and New York, I just had to try it in LA!
Somi Somi is located inside the Wilshire Center in the heart of Ktown. Once you are inside the Wilshire Center, head up the escalators and you will see it immediately. Expect long lines from this tiny shop as this place only opened a few months ago! They offer various flavors of ice cream including green tea, milk, banana and chocolate. For the actual taiyaki cones, you can choose either red bean, custard or nutella to fill the bottom. For Christmas, every taiyaki cone came with a "Santa hat" composed of strawberries and marshmallows. Their other toppings include fruity pebbles, crushed oreo and cupcake sprinkles.
I opted to try the green tea ice cream with crushed oreo. On the bottom floor of the Wilshire Center, they had a gigantic Christmas tree to serve as a backdrop! The taiyaki ice cream was super delicious and I was able to finish the entire thing without feeling too full. The fish cone was crispy and not too soggy or soft. I would absolutely come here again.
4. Eat spicy fried chicken at Young King
Young King is a Korean Chinese restaurant that is famous for their black bean noodles (jjajangmyun) and their spicy garlic fried chicken (kkanpungi).
The sauce for the fried chicken comes in a separate bowl. You can either dip the fried chicken in the sauce or pour the sauce on the chicken yourself (as pictured above). The sauce contains garlic, red chili peppers, peas and green onion. It's sweet but slightly spicy at the same time. Let me tell you, the fried chicken was perfectly golden brown and crispy. It is seriously the best fried chicken I have ever eaten at any Asian restaurant. I kept eating it and could not stop!
The black bean noodles were also delicious. The dish comes with the noodles at the bottom of the bowl with the black bean sauce on top. The sauce also contains small pieces of beef and plenty of grilled onions. You mix the black bean sauce all over the noodles. As you can see the noodles are insanely long. You can request a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the noodles in bite size pieces.
After ordering two black bean noodles and one spicy garlic fried chicken, the total cost was only about $32 after tax. Not bad!
Hope you enjoyed our recommendations of what to eat for a full day in Ktown! Let us know if you tried any of these places and if there are any other hidden gems we should visit.