Koreatown: Best restaurants for dining with a group

Party of six (or more)? Koreatown is a perfect destination for dinner with friends at some of the city's best restaurants.

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Photograph: Courtesy the Boiling Crab


When it comes to social dining, Korean cuisine is an obvious crowd-pleaser. Sitting around a table for a GIY (grill it yourself) dinner is an experience as much as it is a meal. With so many great, group-friendly hangouts from beer bars and karaoke bars to after-hours clubs and late-night dives, Koreatown is the place to be. Gather friends and up your culinary game at these nine K-town restaurants perfect for group dining.

RECOMMENDED: See more in our Koreatown guide

The Boiling Crab

  • Price band: 2/4

On the second floor space in a strip mall where the Brown Derby used to stand, this branch of a Cajun-Vietnamese chain greets diners with a red and white-striped lighthouse, wall-climbing “alligator,” faux great white shark head and dining room lined with cans of beers past. But the kitsch is all part of the experience. Step 1: What’s Your Catch? Select from blue crab, oysters, Dungeness crab, crawfish or shrimp, all sold by the pound. Step 2: What’s Your Flavor? The whole sha-bang is presented in a plastic bag “to preserve the flavors” of Ragin Cajun, lemon pepper or garlic sauce. Step 3: How Spicy Can You Go? Opt for Non-Spicy (plain n’ simple), Mild (just a kick), Med (It’s getting’ HOT in here!) or XXX (I can’t feel my mouth!). For newbies, start with crab, particularly if Dungeness ($16 per pound) is available. Helpful staffers provide a big shell cracker, a blue seafood spear and big plastic bib. Crack, eat and repeat.

  1. 3377 Wilshire Blvd, #115
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Bulrocho

  • Price band: 2/4

Bulrocho is one of a handful of Koreatown restaurants that specialize in black goat stew. And with its doors open 24/7, it’s just as easy to order the hearty, lean red meat dish for lunch as it is after a night in the club. The name translates from Korean as “good for health,” so feel good about digging into the stew ($32-$70), cooked in the kitchen and presented on tabletop grills. The pot holds stewed goat meat and skin with scallions, enoki mushrooms and sesame leaves. Dress your relatively mild goat meat with a dish of soy sauce with garlic, onion and jalapeno; and "goat sauce" made of garlic, scallions, chile paste, whole grain mustard, vinegar and a few spoonfuls of broth. To end, the server will add rice to the stew, along with nori, sesame oil and kimchi for a goat-tastic fried rice.

  1. 955 S Vermont Ave
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Jae Bu Do

  • Price band: 2/4

Koreatown's seafood barbecue joint, Jae Bu Do, pays homage to the East China Sea serving its edible bounty in waves at the table. Go with one of the bang-for-your-buck combo sets—even the basic A set is enough to feed a family—that begins with airy, scallion-flecked steamed egg, crisp-edged scallion pancakes, sizzling creamed corn and a heaping bowl of chile-soaked shrimp and snapper ceviche. From there, DIY grill options include sea scallops and mussels on the half shell, whole clams both big and small that pop ready on the grill, large shell-on shrimp, spicy red chile paste–slathered octopus tentacles and plump, foil-wrapped oysters on the half shell. Upgrade to a B or C set to score creatures like abalone, which writhe alive in their shells before yielding tender meat after cooked. Wind down the seafood feast with a comforting (and nonetheless generously-sized) cauldron of chicken soup with vegetables and hand-cut noodles.

  1. 474 N Western Ave
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Kang Hodong Baekjeong

  • Price band: 3/4

Twin cutouts of a smiling Kang Ho-Dong (as in the Korean celeb, duh) greet diners at this Chapman Plaza restaurant. The South Korean actor and former wrestler has translated his showmanship to the restaurant biz at this Korean BBQ spot featuring stainless steel hoods, hubcap shaped grills and high-energy music. The ingeniously designed grill is ringed by a moat that holds kettle-poured egg, corn cheese, kimchi and vegetables that cook with the DIY barbecue meat. Groups should start with beer and invest in pair of combos. Beef Combo (small, $45) consists of marinated prime boneless short rib, thinly sliced brisket, Prime rib eye and a choice of pungent bean stew or spicy kimchi stew. Pork Combo (small, $40) showcases pork neck, seared pork belly, thinly sliced pork belly and the same choice of stews.

  1. 3465 W 6th St
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Dha Rae Oak

  • Price band: 3/4

The best reason to “gather everyone in house,” a rough translation of this K-town spot, is for duck. Call four hours ahead for the whole roast duck ($60) cooked inside an egg-shaped clay oven with a savory stuffing of glutinous purple five-grain rice, ginkgo nuts, seeds, sweet potato, chestnuts and walnuts. Charcoal grilled duck skewers ($24) are another great option. Dip the crispy skinned, rosy meat in salt and pepper or soy sauce with spicy mustard. Dha Rae Oak has a sizeable menu of Korean comfort food classics including knife-cut noodles. Wheat, red bean and sweet potato noodles combine with cucumbers, daikon, scallion, clams and chewy meongge (sea squirts) in the perfect duck supplement.

  1. 1108 S Western Ave
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