Food & Drink

Crazy-good food, late-night karaoke, and 24hr spas: how to do Koreatown

Published On 10/10/2014 Published On 10/10/2014
Tiffany Tse
Gamja Gol
Tiffany Tse
Line Hotel
Lock & Key
Beer Belly
Tiffany Tse
Tiffany Tse
Karnak
Wi Spa
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1. Gamja Gol 3003 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006 (Koreatown)

This Koreatown spot's got a rich, fall-off-the-bone pork spine/ribs stew served family-style. That's everything you need to know.

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2. Seongbukdong 3303 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020 (Koreatown)

If you’re looking to expand your horizons beyond all-you-can-eat BBQ, this place is a good start, especially if you start by trying their galbijjeam -- a classic Korean comfort food dish with melt-in-your-mouth braised short rib.

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3. Jang Choong Dong 425 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90020 (Koreatown)

If you like pork, like really, really like pork, then Jang Choong Dong in Koreatown is for you. The nondescript restaurant is an offshoot of an ancient one in Seoul, and it's speciality is jokbal. Without the gory details, jokbal is deboned pig's foot that's been boiled and roasted. It's kind of like Korean charcuterie, and it's sliced and served with kimchi, sprouts, and jalapeño, plus lettuce for wrapping.

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4. Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun 3185 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006 (Koreatown)

This casual Korean cafeteria-like joint specializes in naengmyun -- cold noodles in an icy broth, topped with shredded cucumber, radish, and boiled beef strips. Served in a stainless steel bowl, the soupy noodles are traditionally eaten in the warm-weather months in Korea, which means year-round in LA.

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5. Olympic Noodle Restaurant 4008 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019 (Koreatown)

Olympic Noodle dishes out great Korean food, like a soup made with homemade, knife-cut noodles cooked to the perfect al dente consistency, which they pair with super-fresh, tangy kimchi and radish.

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6. POT Lobby Bar 3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, 90010 (Koreatown)

Located in The Line Hotel, PLB pours some unfamiliar versions of familiar drinks, such as a Tom Collins with stinging nettle-infused gin and Long Islands with mezcal, blood orange, and aloe.

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7. Lock & Key 239 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004 (Koreatown)

On such a bizarre stretch of Vermont that the only way to describe it is "across from the Vons", Lock & Key is a speakeasy totally hidden behind this unassuming/terrifying unmarked red door. Knock on said door and a dude wearing a bowler and ascot will answer and let you in. PRO TIP: Don't ask him if he's in Mumford & Sons.

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8. Beer Belly 532 S Western; Koreatown, Los Angeles, CA 90020 (Koreatown)

Hidden in the back of a K-Town parking lot is this graffiti-covered beer bar-slash-restaurant. Beer Belly's self-described speciality is craft beer and crafty food, and the menu lives up to its eclectic promise. The excellent selection of local craft beers changes daily, and the food is bar bites-meets-county fair -- think double bacon mac & cheese, pork cheek chili cheese fries, and deep-fried Oreos. The Jidori hot wings are a power-packed delight if you're in the market for some of LA's best chicken wings (who isn't?). As for seating, there are plenty of tables inside but the outdoor beer garden is where it's at.

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9. Dan Sung Sa 3317 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

Those looking for serious Korean dive bar eats -- like corn cheese, kimchi rice, and spicy rice cakes -- should head straight to Dan Sung Sa. Every table starts off with a bowl of sugar-dusted sweet potato crisps and they have a hearty miso/bean sprout soup to refresh your palate in between all the soju and beer.

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10. Brass Monkey Karaoke 659 S Mariposa Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005 (Koreatown)

Brass Monkey is a bit on the smaller side, so if you want to get a spot and sing your heart out, get there early and reserve a spot.

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11. Gaam Karaoke 3309 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020 (Koreatown)

Gaam offers a top-notch sound system, a great song selection, disco lights, and even great drinks! Plus, they're open until 2am.

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12. Karnak 3319 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (Koreatown)

Karnak on Wilshire is the spot for "booking" in Koreatown (which basically entails buying a table and having waiters bring girls over to you).

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13. La Defence 3701 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (Koreatown)

La Defence, located in Koreatown, offers reasonably priced private rooms that come with unlimited karaoke and bottle service.

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14. Wi Spa 2700 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057 (Westlake)

This 24-hour co-ed spa is the Disneyland of Korean spas. It’s a family-friendly jimjilbang (communal) spa, offering a café with all the bibimbap, banchan, and spicy kimchi dishes you can handle. Body treatments are also available for your indulgence, including a notable seaweed massage involving a body scrub and a seaweed skin treatment, and five different saunas where you can steam your stress off.

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