Korea is a country full of culture and traditions, but one thing that immediately catches your attention is its food. From homemade kimchi to what always seems like mouth-watering ramen, Korea has a million and one different things to offer.
From watching Koreans eat, you can already tell they have fantastic food. Their traditional cuisines are always colorful, spicy, tasty, and filling. It could be Tteokbokki they serve on their streets or jjajangmyeon you get from a local food vendor.
Now, when you go to LA, the variety may not be as comprehensive as what Koreans serve back home, but you get a taste of Korea, nonetheless.
Here is a list of the best Korean street foods in LA.
Best Korean street foods in LA
LA has one of the largest ethnic Korean populations in the diaspora. And for people who are true to their culture, you can expect to find a lot of delicious food. Koreatown is the hub of all Korean restaurants, and a single visit to the area will leave you craving more.
Here are some Korean street foods that are common in LA.
If you are interested in Korea, then tteokbokki might be among the top foods you want to try. Tteokbokki is a spicy snack made using rice cakes or thick noodles. The dish uses pepper sauce as the base and is usually mixed with fish cake. The spiciness will vary depending on the vendor; you can agree that the place to eat tteokbokki is from a street vendor.
You can enjoy your tteokbokki with fried foods, ramen, or sundae.
You can enjoy a share of the best tteokbokki from Halmoni Grandma’s Dukbokki, Jopok Topkki, or Kimbap House in LA. Awoolim and Yup Dduk LA are other excellent spots for hot and spicy tteokbokki.
Sundae, or Korean sausage, is often referred to as blood sausage. The recipe included some protein-rich ingredients and squid. The most popular sundae form is pork blood, mixed with cellophane noodles and glutinous rice.
It could also include soybean paste, kimchi, soybean sprouts, and perilla leaves. Spices like chili powder, sesame seeds, ground shrimp, and sugar can be used to enliven the sausages.
You can enjoy the sundae as a stand-alone snack or have it in a stew. When it is freshly made, the sundae is enjoyed alone. However, if it had to be refrigerated, most cooks bring back the sundae taste by adding soup or pan-frying to get a crispy surface.
In LA, Koreatown is the best place to find authentic sundaes. You can try visiting Jinsol Gukbap LA, Han Kook Soondae, Seoul Soondae House Two, or Don Don Lee Soondae. However, if you are taking a stroll around LA, you can get sundaes from Eighth street Soondae, Jopok Topokki, or Seoul Soondae.
Another signature dish from Korea that you can find in the streets of LA is mandu. You may know them as dumplings, which come with all sorts of stuffings. Also, the folding could be different from one street vendor to another.
Traditionally, mandu have minced pork with chopped vegetables. Sometimes, people add chopped sour kimchi, tofu, and mung bean sprouts. For flavor, most chefs use garlic chives, salt, and pepper. If you are vegetarian, you can get your rendition of mandu, which has vegetable stuffing (yachae mandu).
The best mandu spots in LA are MDK Noodles, Myung In Dumplings, Chang Hwa Dang, Dumpling House, and Pao Jao Dumpling House.
If you visit Korea, you will most likely fall in love with their dakgangjeong and maekju (beer), a combination is popularly known as ChiMaek. That combination hits differently, whether you are battling winter’s cold or summer’s heat.
In LA, the replica of dakgangjeong can be found all over Koreatown and other areas of LA. The crispy Korean fried chicken is usually glazed in sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce. Usually, the chicken comes in small bite-sized boneless chicken that you can eat for a quick snack.
For seasoning, chefs use salt, ginger, and garlic before coating the chicken soaked in milk with potato starch.
In LA, you can enjoy dakgangjeong at BBQ Chicken-Alhambra, 77 Kentucky, Gol Tong Chicken, Two-zone Chicken, or Chicken Pong, USA.
5. Gamja HotDog
Korean corn dogs are taking over the world by storm. Besides being delicious street food, gamja hotdog is a fun snack during movie night or when you want to binge-watch your favorite Kdrama.
The recipe includes sausages, mozzarella cheese, or both, wrapped on a stick and then coated with yeasted butter. The Korean version then consists of a layer of panko breadcrumbs, potatoes, or chips flakes, before deep-frying until golden brown.
Enjoy your variety of Gamja corn dogs from 88 Hotdog& Juicy, Smile Hotdog, Chung Chun rice hotdog, or Two Hands Seoul Fresh Corn Dogs. Alternatively, you can wander into Koreatown and find all sorts of gamja hotdogs to enjoy.
We cannot end the list of all-time favorite Korean street foods in LA without mentioning the gimbap. The gimbap is the Korean answer to the famous Japanese sushi rolls.
Gimbap constitutes steamed white rice wrapped in dry seaweed. The rice is seasoned with sesame oil, while the filling consists of canned tuna, grilled bulgogi, ham, cheese, and kimchi. It is an easy snack to eat on the go or as packed lunch.
In Koreatown, The Kimbap, Kimbap House, Halmoni Grandma’s Dukbokki, and California Market Gimbap &Udon are the best places to find tasty gimbap.
Street food is a part of the popular culture of Korean people. The Korean citizens living in LA do not disappoint in this sector. The food is delicious and comes in wide varieties, from hot and spicy to sweet and savory. Try your share of Korean street food in LA today, and you will not regret walking to that cart.