48 Hours in Kore­atown

A new king of the hip­ster heap in L.A.

Western Living - - CONTENTS -

Your es­sen­tial guide to Los Angeles’ most ex­cit­ing new neigh­bour­hood.

Long be­fore Anthony Bour­dain brought his TV show to Kore­atown in Los Angeles, food­ies have known that the con­ti­nent’s best bossam is to be had in this oft-over­looked neigh­bour­hood (west of down­town and south of Hol­ly­wood). It’s the birth­place of a new Korean fu­sion scene that you need to sam­ple be­fore it goes main­stream, but leave any white-table­cloth pre­ten­sions be­hind; real Korean din­ing scenes are fam­ily-style, ca­sual and even a lit­tle rowdy—with no in­ter­est in such fop­pery.


There’s but one ho­tel op­tion if you’ve come to ex­pe­ri­ence the re­nais­sance of Kore­atown. Check into The Line ( the­line­ho­tel.com), a mid- century build­ing that’s been fully ren­o­vated to hit a very high de­sign bar. K-town foodie king­pin Roy Choi han­dles the ho­tel’s two restaurants, the café and a su­perb bar. Choi first won at­ten­tion in L.A. for his trav­el­ling food truck, but he’s now in se­ri­ous em­pire-build­ing mode. The Line, which feels like a grown-up ver­sion of the Ace ho­tels, is his ideal HQ.

Be­fore hit­ting the din­ing scene, de­com­press (and burn some calo­ries) with a walk down Wil­shire Boule­vard to Robert F. Kennedy In­spi­ra­tion Park, a grassy re­lease from L.A. grid­lock. En route, feel free to lament/fan­ta­size about what gen­tri­fi­ca­tion is go­ing to do to Kore­atown’s crowd of 24-hour karaoke joints and dive bars in 20 years’ time.

Come din­ner­time, start ding­ing your plush booth’s built-in bell at The Prince ( thep­rincela.com), where a dimly lit vin­tage in­te­rior will re­mind you of scenes from Mad Men and Chi­na­town (both filmed here). Tuck into deep-fried chicken and gen­er­ous, deeply sat­is­fy­ing plates of kim­chi fried rice. No­tice those beau­ti­ful people walk­ing by? A movie’s throw­ing its wrap party in the back room.

If you’re still wired, nearby down­town is worth a jaunt—it’s also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a se­ri­ous re­boot. Cab to Seven Grand Whiskey Bar ( se­v­en­grand­bars.com) where they’ll fix your old-fash­ioned with your pick from the hun­dreds of whiskeys on hand. En­joy it at the pool ta­bles or cozy up on leather so­fas (be­neath the gaze of a wall-mounted boar) in their qui­eter side room.


Break­fast, cof­fee and crisp copies of the Los Angeles Times are wait­ing for you down­stairs in The Line’s chicly ap­pointed lounge. The pa­pers are mainly for show, though; ev­ery­one here (hoodie- clad mu­sic ex­ecs, Korean Air flight at­ten­dants and tech- start-up thir­tysome­things) is deep into their iPhone.

Don’t fill up on break­fast: you’re about to ex­pe­ri­ence—hands down—the best Korean meal of your life. Chego ( eatchego.com) is

the only Roy Choi restau­rant on this itin­er­ary, but you’ll be look­ing up more once you lunch at the pic­nic ta­bles out­side this hum­ble es­tab­lish­ment. All the rice bowls are wor­thy, but try a Chubby Pork Belly: filled with kochu­jang-lac­quered Kurobuta (the Wagyu beef of pork), it comes with Chi­nese broc­coli and pick­led radishes and is topped with cotija cheese and peanuts. Score a sriracha Bar— dark choco­late with a crisped rice bot­tom and Sriracha ganache—for a treat later on.

Af­ter an oblig­a­tory ogle through Beverly Hills, re­turn to K-town to find the ma­tri­arch of Soban ( sobanusa.com) watch­ing Korean soaps on her iPad by the counter. As for you, fo­cus on ap­pre­ci­at­ing the 10 beau­ti­ful ban­chan (side dishes) that will ap­pear along­side your en­trees: go for soy-mar­i­nated crab and the de­servedly Yelped- about short ribs.


Swing by LACMA in the morn­ing to take in their un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated Korean art collection be­fore lunch at hum­ble Myung In Dumplings. They’re fa­mous for jumbo, supremely fluffy (and not too chewy) pouches of pork and kim­chi, but get the fried dumplings, too— they’ve got the tex­ture of pot stick­ers and be­come ad­dic­tive when doused in their vine­gary chili sauce. From the tar­mac, shout a“Jal meo­geos­se­um­nida!” (That was de­li­cious!)

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