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The Nine Best Korean Barbecue Restaurants In L.A.’s Koreatown

Where should you go for the best Korean barbecue in L.A.’s Koreatown? We have some thoughts.

A few hundred of them, of course, as the choices are many, with most of them delivering smokey, juicy, sizzling satisfaction.

But in an attempt to bring some sanity to the world and take one more tough decision off your plate, we’ve reduced our recommendations to a concentrated handful capable of fulfilling any party’s carnivorous Korean needs.

Be they with some freak-of-the-week who's on a duck, cow intestine, or live eel-exclusive diet or one of those special occasions when someone’s parents or CEO or sugar mama or whatever wants to take everyone out for the “best of the best.”

We're only too happy to help you oblige.

via Itzxmich/Instagram
Photo via Itzxmich/Instagram.

Jae Bu Do

Just Clam It

Jae Bu Do is a Korean barbecue restaurant specializing in seafood, some of it live. Your squad will be seated then pick their desired combos. Soon your table will quickly rival a smaller city’s aquarium. As tall bottles of Hite appear, disappear, and reappear around you, platters of heavily armored bivalves, mollusks, and crustaceans—shrimp, oysters, clam, live abalone, lobster, perhaps geoduck—and fish land beside you. You grill this glistening legion yourself over charcoal on the tabletop. Two soups, haemul pajeon (a seafood scallion pancake), and various banchan will be served on the side, while you can supplement your meal with as many extra lobsters, whole croakers, scallops, squid, and squirming pink hagfish as your table can stomach.

474 N. Western Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90004. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 207 - “Western/Maplewood.”

Soot Bull Jeep. Photo via @johnson.doan/IG.

Soot Bull Jeep

Cooooooooal!

As one of the city’s oldest Korean barbecue restaurants, Soot Bull Jeep is a classic that has been allowed to keep the charcoal grills denied to newer establishments. Which means smoky off-the-bone kalbi with attached tendon, smoky beef tongue and tripe, smoky baby back pork ribs and ribeye, and yes, smoky hair and shirt when you wake up in the morning. Fuck it, it’s worth it, and you’ve probably done worse things to your lungs over the years. Alternatively, consider changing your clothes.

3136 W. 8th St. Los Angeles, CA 90005. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 66 - “8th/Catalina” or Bus Lines 204 or 754 - "Vermont/8th."

Photo via @soowon_galbi.
Photo via @soowon_galbi/IG.

Soowon Galbi

Let Someone Else Do It

You seek renowned charcoal-grilled kalbi at a KTown classic with an established reputation. Soowon Galbi’s casual, festive feel has been in place since 1986, popular for both marinated and non-marinated galbi, available in both Prime beef and pork varieties, as well as forms such as dduk galbi (ground patties) and galbi tang (short rib stew with glass noodles), cooked at your table by the steady hand of an employee who knows what they’re doing. As opposed to your friend, Lester, who can’t stop overcooking all the nice meat. Other recommended options, amid the many, include paper-thin cuts of brisket, beef tartare, traditional servings of butterflied Atka mackerel and fish roe stew, cold noodles, and stone pot bibimbap, should you be seeking alternatives from its namesake.

856 S. Vermont Ave. Ste. C Los Angeles, CA 90005. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 204 - “Vermont/James M Wood” or Bus Lines 66 or 754 - "Vermont/8th."

Photo via @sun_ha_jang/IG.
Photo via @sun_ha_jang/IG.

Sun Ha Jang

Duck. Duck. DUCK!

Ordering at Sun Ha Jang is straightforward. Each person gets the duck plate (for the new, inflationary rate of $48.99). Said plates appear, lined with thin curls of red, fat-capped duck. That goes into the hot pot on your table, with a requisite order of skinned garlic cloves, until the fat renders and the meat begins to wade, as you stagger between bites of the rich meat and the spicy banchan served to cut it down to size. You’re going nowhere just yet. Next comes a bowl of rice, which gets stirred into the remaining fat and whatever stray bits of banchan you’ve somehow managed to ignore—duck fat bliss. There is also a spicy version!

4032 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 28 or 210 - “Olympic/Crenshaw.”

Photo via @fengmao.la/IG.
Photo via @fengmao.la/IG.

Feng Mao

Have a Little Lamb

The first temple of mutton known as Feng Mao was opened 15 years ago by a couple from an autonomous, ethnically Korean prefecture within Northeastern China’s Jilin Province, who describe what they offer as “Chinese-Korean kebab barbecue.” You’ll be roasting your own tender wisps of skewered lamb on a two-level grill here, aided by pinches of a cumin-based spice blend. While those are obligatory, Feng Mao’s menu is massive, full of Chinese and Korean eats both traditional, such as mapo tofu, soondae blood sausage, and dumplings, and more unexpected, as in the case of the bull penis kebab, quickly fried kidneys, and pork blood with chives.

3901 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 28 - “Olympic/Norton” or Bus Line 210 - "Crenshaw/Olympic."

414 S. Western Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90020-4192. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 16, 207 or 210 - “Western/3rd.”

Photo via @ParksBBQ/IG.
Photo via @ParksBBQ/IG.

Park's BBQ

You’ve Got Beef

Park’s is widely considered to have the best quality meats for Korean barbecue in town. Point the bulk of your orders towards beef since the restaurant focuses more on cows than pigs, including cuts of A5 Japanese and U.S. Wagyu, Prime beef tartare, beautifully marbled boneless bulgogi, and stone pot ribeye bulgogi. Stuff your face with some galbi beef short ribs while a portrait of Nicolas Cage on their wall enviously stares at you. “How am I not in that ggot sal?!”

955 S Vermont Ave G, Los Angeles, CA 90006. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 28, 204 or 754 - “Olympic/Vermont.”

Photo via @songhakbbq/Instagram.
Photo via @songhakbbq/Instagram.

Songhak BBQ

Intestinal Fortitude

If you didn’t grow up eating it and are grossed out or whatever, eat a hot dog. If gopchang and daechang (small and large intestines, respectively) are a delicacy you covet, however, welcome to your Mecca, where servings of large beef intestine, fatty intestine, reed tripe, and mountain chain tripe play first fiddle to sliced brisket, short rib, Prime pork jowl, and pork belly, served grilled, with cold noodles, and in spicy stir-fries and stews, along with group-friendly combos adding hot cheesy corn, steamed egg pot, and one’s choice of kimchi or soybean paste stew. Yes, you can have your intestines can be super duper crispy (and delicious).

356 S. Western Ave. Ste. 201 Los Angeles, CA 90020. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 16, 207 or 210 - “Western/3rd.”

Pork BBQ at @seoraebbq/IG.
Pork BBQ at @seoraebbq/IG.

Seorae Pork Village

Swine Country

I got a spot for us all so that we can ball, at Seorae Pork Village. The menu lives up to the endearing name, as this is a place with the grand vision to dedicate its life to serving you gamjatang (spicy pork neck stew) and pork ribs. They’ve got a lot of other stuff too, which generally, we might tell you, is beside the point. But one of those things is fucking pepperoni pizza fries. Which is why we want to marry these guys.

2585 W. Olympic Blvd Fl. 2 Los Angeles, CA 90006. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 28 - “Olympic/Elden.”

Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong

The Splurge

Here’s where to go all out, preferably surrounded by a big group. Preferably a big group that can deal with waiting a long time. Who wants to experience a menu of familiar Korean barbecue menu classics, done very well with superior quality meats-both bovine and swine-from Prime ribeye steaks and uber-tender boneless short ribs to marinated pork collar, spicy pork belly, and pork jowl. Classics like bibimbap, sundubu jjigae, jeon, and japchae are available a la carte, and steamed eggs and corn cheese are bottomless. What’s not to love? Bonus: The lines are typically shorter at the locations outside of KTown, like Torrance.

3465 W. 6th St. Ste. 20 Los Angeles, CA 90020. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 18 - “6th/Alexandria”, Bus Line 20 - "Wilshire/Alexandria" or Metro D Line - "Wilshire/Normandie Station."

1725 W. Carson St. Torrance, CA 90501-2824.

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