K-town’s best Korean BBQ restaurants
Forget the usual Korean BBQ joints; those suffering from kalbi fatigue can fill up on samgyupsal (pork belly) at 8 Korean BBQ (formerly Palsaik Samgyupsal). And if that weren’t enough, eight different marinades—hence the restaurant’s name—give enough variety to tired tastebuds. Nearly every KBBQ-friendly sauce imaginable—including original marinade, miso paste, curry and wine—coats swine cooked on the flat-top alongside a seafood soup. The meal ends with kimchi fried rice cooked directly in the soup bowl, making this a three-in-one meal. What’s more, you’ve even got two locations to choose from: K-town and Buena Park, both with pork belly galore.
Chosun Galbee is where to bring the parents and out-of-towners. This Koreatown spot offers an upscale setting with outdoor seating and—gasp—smokeless grills. With the more modern vibe, the food leans on the less traditional side by way of a less-is-more approach to food and the array of banchan. Wine by the glass and bottle add to the posh dining experience, while private rooms can be booked ahead for large parties.
The sign says Korean “Black Angus” and that’s just what you should order at Chung Ki Wa. Go for the rib-eye marinated, sliced or bone-in—whichever way, carnivores can get their fill, . Prices are reasonable, especially considering the full spread of banchan and attentive, friendly service. Cook on the flat-top, but if you must, the kitchen can also do the cooking for you. And to pair, do as the regulars do: Supplement your beef order with nengmyun, cold, handmade buckwheat noodles.
This OG Koreatown spot is a little fancier and pricier than other BBQ restaurants in the neighborhood, but the charm and quality have gone unchanged for decades. Original leather booths are stacked in the calligraphy-wallpapered dining room, and a back tatami seating area gives a timeless feel. The order here is the roast gui, thinly sliced rib-eye steak cooked with butter on a flat-top. Plenty of tasty banchan fill out the table, but if that isn’t enough, the best is yet to come: The meal is finished with a kimchi-and-beef fried rice that’s cooked directly on the grill. Fight the urge to pick from the bottom of the pan while it’s cooking—the crispy rice is worth the wait.
Fans of banchan, you’ve reached your destination. This K-town gem offers more than a dozen pickled goods and sides, which of course accompany any of your six Korean BBQ meal options, as well as your premium choices—a lobster, scallop and shrimp plate, anyone? Sure, you could gun for the à la carte dishes, like the buckwheat noodles or the cornish game hen stew, but you know what you really came here for—so keep your eyes on the prize. Live westward? There’s a second location, in Beverly Grove, for your convenience.
Chapman Plaza is buzzing and lines of people are waiting to get into this celeb-owned Korean BBQ spot. Named after Korean comedian and proprietor Kang Ho-dong, this casual restaurant is just as entertaining, and doesn’t disappoint. With top-notch BBQ beef and a raging—as in don’t-expect-to-have-quiet-banter-with-your-date—good time. Groups file in around the open grill that’s outfitted with side pockets of roasting corn, kimchi and egg. Start with the house specialty: The lunchbox is a kimchi rice mix served in a tin box to tackle yourself or share. It’s all about group dining here, though, so get into the spirit and fire it up.
Sure, it can feel a little cold and industrial—the grill vents look like shiny metal silos hovering over the tables and the service is meant to be snappy—but this Korean and Southeast Asian chain has plenty of warmth, and warming food, to make up for it. Magal’s combos are the way to go, and can be ordered for two people or up to four—which makes this spot ideal for parties and those who want a little of everything: Each combo includes pepper squid, soups, grilled pineapple and other delectable sides, and of course banchan. Maybe coolest of all is the fact that these are decked-out grills, so your meat sizzles surrounded by a moat of corn and egg.
Angelenos may be divided on their favorite Korean barbecue spot in this city, but Park’s seems to be the one unifying constant. The incredibly high quality of the meat and the tried-and-true flavors always hit the spot. The vibe is more upscale with bright, modern furnishings, and lines are never too bad, thanks to that sprawling bi-level dining room. And for novices, parking is never dreaded—there's convenient, onsite valet.
There’s no avoiding it: Soot Bull Jeep gets smoky and the grilled meat fumes will permeate everything, sticking to you for what feels like a week. But brave diners—and seasoned ’cuers—know that the lingering scent is worth it, and file into this hole-in-the-wall spot for some of the best BBQ in town. Though the setting is comparatively drab and the banchan options are minimal, the star is the charcoal grill, giving marinated kalbi or whole squid a nice, smoky char.
Don’t be put off by the location; this plaza in the far reaches of K-town is worth the journey. The long lines—usually at least an hour wait, unless you book a week ahead—will tell you that you’re in the right place. Inside, the dining room is more modern with a mixed crowd of locals and newbies. Combination plates of meat are a good place to start for first-timers, while a smorgasbord of banchan appease veterans. The meat’s top-notch and the service is attentive, making this a perfect gateway restaurant into Korean BBQ, or a fancier night out for seasoned pros.
Looking for more shareable meals?
There’s no question Los Angeles is a place where people like to fine in big groups, so it only makes sense that communal stock pot cooking, also known as hot pot, would be big here. Though most commonly Chinese, we’ve got a multitude of East Asian spots from Japanese to Korean and Mongolian. Here are some of our favorite hot pot restaurants.