Hands down, my favorite area in Los Angeles is Koreatown, but is anyone really surprised? Our friends, Kara and Mike, took us to Koreatown to explore it's finest offerings, which of course involved food. The main thing I wanted to do was eat Korean bbq. It's very good in Chicago, but it's not like how it is in Korea. It's close, but not quite there. I've heard that in LA it's like eating in Korea, so I wanted to see if this was really true.
Every where I researched, the only place consistently recommended was Kang Ho Dong Baekjong. As usual, the critics were right and the bbq was just like Korea. We decided to order the Pork Combo ($39.99) that consisted of pork neck, seared pork belly, pork short rib, steamed egg, kimchi and kimchi stew. At that price, it was a steal and more than enough to feed four people. We obviously supplemented the meal with soju, beer and cider to really make it authentic! It was a delicious meal and the perfect start to our day in Koreatown.
After stuffing our faces full of delicious barbecued meats, we decided to walk around Koreatown and see what other delights we could find. We passed by the Wiltern, which is a great vintage concert venue and theater. After picking up a few little kawaii things from Daiso, we came across Caffe Bene, one of my favorite Korean cafes. When Markus and I lived in Korea, we spent many nights at a Caffe Bene in Seomyeon brainstorming for Yehey. We have such fond memories of that place, so it was only natural for us to stop and have an iced Americano for old times sake.
After taking a lengthy coffee break, we realized that we were a bit hungry and headed over to Myung In Dumplings, a place that Anthony Bourdain recommended. We ordered the king steam dumpling pork and kimchi ($8), the spicy steam roll dumpling with pork and shrimp ($10), and fried dumpling with shrimp, pork and vegetables ($9). I could see why Bourdain recommended this place. The king steam dumplings were so fluffy and the kimchi wasn't overwhelming. The spicy steam roll dumpling was meaty, savory and just the right amount of spice. The fried dumplings were crunchy, juicy and everything you want in a fried dumpling.
Our last stop of the day was another popular spot that I kept seeing all over Instagram. California Donuts is known for being fun and colorful, but most importantly the panda donut! When I saw them in the window, I definitely squealed in delight and each couple had to get one of their own. There was no way I was gonna share that cute panda with anyone but Markus! We sampled the Panda, Reeses, Chocolate Bacon, Fruity Pebbles and Samoa donuts ($18). They were all good, but my favorite was the Panda donut, but let's be real there was never any real competition.
Even though Markus and I spent a whole day eating our fill in Koreatown, a few days later we returned with my cousin and visited another hot spot, Yu Chun. One of my favorite Korean dishes is naengmyeon, or cold noodles. I can seriously eat it every day in the summer, it's so delicious and refreshing. So, I made it a goal to have some before we left LA. We ordered the BBQ and Bibim Naengmyeon Combo ($17.50) and Mul Naengmyun ($8.50). I'm so glad we decided to eat at Yu Chun, because everything was perfect. Eating that food was like coming home and felt so familiar and comforting. I swear to you, I almost cried it was that close. If I lived in LA, I think I would be in Koreatown every night or at least every weekend. The food there is that good and I worth a visit if you're close by!