I’ve been told that for the best Korean food in the world, you need look no further than Los Angeles. The rationale is that you have a vibrant Korean community in Koreatown (affectionately known as K-Town) with access to better quality meat and vegetables than exists in the homeland.
I’m not ready to start an international food fight by saying whether or not I agree with that remark, but I will tell you about some of my favorite places for Korean food in Los Angeles. This is the short list.
Soot Bull Jeep - Korean Bar-B-Q 3136 W. Eighth St., (213) 387-3865. Be careful as your clothes and hair will smell like smoke leaving this place. Instead of your usual gas grills, they use coals to cook the meat at your table.
Beverly Soon Tofu (“BehVuhLee Soon Dubu” in Korean) ph: 213.380.11132 717 West Olympic Boulevard #108 Los Angeles, California 90006-2642 Northwest Corner of Olympic and Vermont This place has the BEST soon dubu. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The interior is small, but decorated such that it looks like you’re between two straw thatched houses in rural Korea. The Bi-Bim-Bap is very excellent as well.
Mandarin House 3074 W. Eighth St., (213) 386-8976. This is in a strip mall just west of Vermont. Don’t let the name fool you, this place has the best Cha Jang Mein around. To refresh your memory, that’s the thick noodles with the dark brownish black sauce made from black beans, onions, and meat.
Chosun Galbi 3330 W. Olympic Blvd., (323) 734-3330. Just west of Western and Olympic. This is a more conservative choice for Korean Bar-B-Q than Soot Bull Jeep, as you won’t stink. It’s more authentic than Woo Lae Oak.
Hodori 1001 S. Vermont Ave., No. 102, (213) 383-3554. 24 hour Korean restaurant for those late night Korean cravings.
BCD Tofu House (SoonDubu) 3575 Wilshire BlvdLos Angeles, CA 90010 (There’s actually a couple of locations in L.A. (213) 382-6677 This place is nowhere near as good as Beverly Soon Tofu, but it’s open 24 hours so it works as a fine backup for those late night munchies. In the late hours (after 2 AM), expect hungry bar-hoppers and club-goers. Watch out for projectile vomit. I’ve had my own bad experience there which involved a bowl of Mandu Soon Dubu and a few hard drinks prior.