The Neighborhood Guide: Koreatown

By Natalia Kvitek,

The Hotel: The Line

3515 WILSHIRE BOULEVARD, LOS ANGELES 

HVK_Adrian GautApt Suite 1_Adrian Gaut
Photos courtesy of the Line hotel

Drawing inspiration from the work hard, play hard culture of Koreatown, the Line Hotel was a collaborative project between the Sydell Group, The Houston Brothers, Sean Knibb, Poketo (who have a shop in the hotel) and local chef Roy Choi. The mid-century building houses 388 guest rooms decorated with concrete, hand-made Mexican fabrics and authentic mid-century period pieces. Floor to ceiling windows usher in light and views of LA and a mini-bar stocks a variety of delicious Western and Korean snacks. The hotel has a whooping five options for onsite food and drinks; chef Roy Choi’s Korean hot pot restaurant, Pot, the Pot Lobby Bar, CaFe, Commissary as well as “delivery” service which drops off food right in front of your hotel room door. 

View The Line Hotel on trivago

All these incredible amenities do not mean, however, that you should avoid venturing outside the hotel. Slide into some shoes and get ready to walk or bike on one of the hotel’s three-speed bikes complete with leather saddles and bags, plus helmets and lock, to get acquainted with Koreatown.  


The Neighborhood: Koreatown

Neighborhood Guide Koreatown

Palm trees and multi-lingual signs in Koreatown. Photo by Laurie Avocado CC BY

Koreatown of the past was a richly ethnic area made famous by the 1992 LA riots but has emerged from its tough shell as the culinary and nightlife hotspot of Los Angeles. The Korean and Latino communities are still present but now mingling in a block-party atmosphere with those seeking out the cool-guy vibe in the Korean karaoke bars and restaurants packed with entire families who hail from the area. For visitors, it’s tough to choose from the hundreds of promisingly delicious coffee shops, restaurants and adorable stationary stores. Assuming that you’re staying in the area, we’ve handpicked the best places to get what you need within a walk-able radius to your hotel so that you emerge with the feeling of being in-the-know of one of LA’s most vibrant ‘hoods. 

The Morning Coffee: Café

WALKING DISTANCE: 0 MINUTES

Best coffee in Koreatown

Cafe at the Line hotel. Photo courtesy of the Line hotel.

While we may suggest venturing out of beyond the Line hotel to Koreatown coffee staples like Iota Coffee (15 min walk), true coffee aficionados know that the best brews are available at the Line’s own Café. With beans and baristas provided by Silver Lake based Lamill coffee, many options are available iced — perfect for those sunny and sweaty LA mornings.  Pastries, sweets and eats are also available as well as fresh pressed juices from local chain Juice Served Here.

The Brunch: Paojao Dumpling House

WALKING DISTANCE: 17 MINUTES

Pao Jao Dumpling House 1Pao Jao Dumpling House 2
Photos by Rachel Phipps

Whether you’ve got a hangover or just a hankering, the Paojao Dumpling House, located in the Koreatown Plaza food court, manages to fit in a whole bunch of delicious into a neat, small bun. Once you get over the strangeness of eating under the neon lights of a food court, order the King Dumplings or Kimchi Dumplings. The mall itself will make you forget you’re in LA and is worth a stroll around, with plenty of cute Korean boutiques selling clothing, makeup, stationary, and of course, stuffed animals.

Honorable mention, in case you want to stock up on anti-oxidants and feel refreshed, goes to Brazilian brunch Ubatuba Açai. The restaurant’s main draw is their açai bowls, made up of granola, Greek yogurt and fruit, built on the amazingly anti-oxidizing Brazilian açai berries.

The Shop: Daiso

WALKING DISTANCE: 10 MINUTES

Daiso 2Daiso
Photos courtesy of the Daiso Facebook Page

If you’re looking for cute souvenirs or feel inspired to actually pen a love letter, head to local stationary mecca Daiso. If you’re the sort of person that got excited about shopping for school supplies, we recommend setting aside some time to fully take the store in. Pens and notebooks come in every shape, form and color, iPad cases, kawaii-themed stickers and even kitchen supplies and makeup — plus everything is very reasonably priced with most stock coming in around $1.50.

 

The Unwind: Natura Spa

WALKING DISTANCE: 10 MINUTES

natura spanatura Spa2
Photos courtesy of Natura Spa and L.A Lady Blog

When in Koreatown, be sure to visit a traditional Korean jimjilbang. A combo of bathhouse, spa and social gathering spot, many are open 24 hours a day. Spa areas are gender-segregated and nudity is a must. Natura Spa, a bit of a locally-loved secret, offers a range of kilns including a beautiful jade sauna, plus plunge pools and an onsite gym for visitors. Spa services include deep-tissue acupressure and foot massages, body scrubs as well as facials and mani-pedis. 

The Dinner: Soowon Galbi

WALKING DISTANCE: 18 MINUTES

Best Korean BBQ KoreatownKorean BBQ in Los Angeles
Photos by Brian Gonzalez and Cristina Bejarano CC BY 

For a taste of what’s thought to be the most authentic Korean BBQ in Koreatown, head to Soowon Galbi. While other Korean BBQ places boast all-you-can-eat options, fear not — you won’t leave hungry from the piles of meat cooked at your table on charcoal imported from South Korea in addition to hundreds of tiny bowls of pickled and fresh vegetables that accompany all the meat. The beef brisket is reputed to be one of the top choices.

The Drinks: The Prince

WALKING DISTANCE: 10 MINUTES

The Prince Koreatown

A jazzy interior to a fine drinking establishment. Photo courtesy of the Prince Facebook page.

Wander into the basement housing The Prince and slide into the red booths that give this local joint a bit of a seedy, boudoir feel — perfect for a quick drink (or eight). Instead of wonder what on earth the resident Los Angeles “mixologist” has created for you, revel in the comforts of a drink menu still stuck on classic staples like Long Island Iced Tea. During Happy Hour, bartenders are slinging drinks 50% from 4-8 p.m. all week long, making this the perfect time to enjoy a strong whisky sour accompanied by some Korean fried chicken which comes crispy, moist and salty.

The Party:

WALKING DISTANCE: 10 MINUTES

palmtreeBreakRoom86_Bar_0016_web1

Leave your inhibitions behind for a night out belting tunes to songs in languages you probably don’t speak. Get into the spirit of Karaoke at Palm Tree LA. Guided by neon lights, drinks are cheap enough to guarantee any smidgen of shyness will be promptly squished out as you are ushered into one of the 20 private karaoke rooms, joined by everyone from businessmen to young starlets.

Want to make the most of your time at the beautiful Line hotel? We can’t blame you. Thankfully, they’ve got you covered for a good party as well. Slink down to the Break 86, a combo of bar/club/karaoke which fully embraces the spirit of its neighborhood with many stylistic 80’s throwbacks in decor. What looks like a loading dock in the back of the Line hotel (ask at the front desk if you get lost) is actually the entrance. Go early and leave late!

Stay at The Line Hotel