Korean fried chicken: Where to find the best in Koreatown restaurants and pubs

Hungry for Korean fried chicken? Check out these Koreatown restaurants and bars serving up the best of the other KFC.

Photograph: Joshusa Lurie
Fried Hot Chicken Wings at Toe Bang
Think you know Korean fried chicken? LA has a number of restaurants (some more dive-y than others and some that are actual dive bars) that produce terrific yard bird (some spicier than others), all in Koreatown. (See, it's not all about chicken & waffles and Southern food joints.) And what to pair with the deep-fried finger food? Take a cue from the Koreans, who pair this pub grub with pickled daikon cubes, washed down with beer and soju. Here are six of our favorite places in Koreatown for fried chicken.

RECOMMENDED: See more in our Koreatown guide

Korean Chicken Place

There’s little doubt about the specialty at this casual eatery. The name (and logo, oddly depicting a cartoon chicken grilling his own kind) says it all. Chicken is available stewed, stir-fried and, of course, fried. Sure, they’ve got wings here, but we suggest going with Fried Chicken Meat with Hot Sweet Sauce ($14.99). Boneless chunks of leg meat are lightly battered, deep-fried and tossed with sweet, spicy chile sauce. The topper is somewhat surprising—cornflakes—which add a winning crunch, and mandatory pickled radish cubes complete the picture.

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Koreatown

Dan Sung Sa

This strip mall pojangmacha (Korean-style pub) has dispensed vast quantities of anju (Korean tapas), soju and Hite since 1997. Photos of James Dean, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe that line the exterior pay tribute to the restaurant’s namesake, the first movie theater in Seoul. Inside, Dan Sung Sa lives up to its dive bar billing with wood tables and cubby hole–sized banquettes, all covered with pen and marker scribbling. The pub grub includes fried chicken wings ($12.99), available un-sauced, mild or spicy, coated with dark red sauce spiked with pepper paste.

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Koreatown

Toe Bang

The name Toe Bang loosely translates as "vomit room." And one look at the menu—categories include “Dishes That Go Well With Soju” and “Dishes That Go Well with Beer”—and you’ll see why. Soak up all of that alcohol with some flavorful bar food that far exceeds the usual pub grub, including fried hot chicken wings ($15.99) that sport crispy skin and a spicy, burgundy-hued sauce with a dusting of sesame seeds. Flat screen TVs show the latest game and the open-air space inside Chapman Plaza features wood tables and a wall of five-gallon kegs leading to the restrooms, just in case you need to know where to pay your respects to the porcelain god at the end of the night.

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Koreatown

OB Bear

Beer flows like water at this Koreatown pub, which shares a name with the Korean macro brewery, OB. The dark wood dive bar boasts a sprawling menu, but don’t let that distract you from the main objective: fried chicken (and drinking). Order deep-fried chicken ($12.25) of un-battered bird with startlingly crispy skin and juicy center or spicy chicken wings ($13.70), piled high with a sauce that delivers heat. (Beware: its intensity builds with each bite.) Both plates come with the common accompaniments of tart, pickled radish cubes and a crunchy salad topped with Thousand Island dressing.

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Koreatown

Chugajip

Red and green neon lettering greets you at Chugajip, while dark booths divided by bamboo matting, decorative wagon wheels and lanterns, and pulsing K-pop let you know that you’re “visiting mom's relatives,” roughly translated in English. And at this 22-year-old pub, hospitality comes in the form of shareable plates and big pours of either Michelob or Heineken. The half yangyum, or BBQ, chicken ($9.50), arrives oven-roasted and deep-fried, tossed with a tangy, spicy sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The plate comes with shredded cabbage doused with Thousand Island dressing, crinkle-cut French fries, creamy macaroni salad, pepperocini and tart pickled radish cubes.

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Koreatown

The Prince

Once the site of the Windsor in the 1920's, this space near the former Ambassador Hotel is now marked "Prince" in neon cursive atop the building. Step inside another place and time where live piano and lush red booths set the stage alongside octagon-shaped tables and a central horseshoe shaped bar framed with overhead honeycomb art glass. Fried chicken is a popular order here—we recommend experiencing this specialty through the Half & Half ($15.99), a combination of crisp-skinned, juicy, batter-free bird and bone-in, lightly battered nubs tossed in spicy chile paste. As per requisite in Koreatown, the fried chicken order comes with Thousand Island–dressed salad and tangy pickled radish cubes.

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Koreatown

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