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Is Food in Koreatown Legit?

August 14, 2015

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Ah yes the age old questions: is food made outside of the motherland legit food? I’m not sure this is actually an age old question…it just felt right to ask it that way…hahahah! So seriously, there are a lot of K-Towns in the world. We even have one in Toronto but the big question is always if the food tastes the same as food found in Korea. It’s not that there is anything wrong with food being fusion or having a twist on it, but it can be difficult for someone to judge whether they like a new food if they try something that isn’t actually legit. I’ve heard many stories of my friends trying Korean food and not enjoying it but when I asked them what was in it, it sounded nothing like actual Korean food! In that case, it seems like an unfair representation of a countries food right? So while in LA, we asked two of our good friends David Choi and Jen to take us to their favourite K-Town food locations.

Jen recommended her favourite 냉면 cold noodle restaurant which turned out to be fantastic. We were very sceptical because I love love love cold noodles, and so I knew I was going to be especially harsh when reviewing it, but this place didn’t screw up anything! You can overcook the delicate noodles, not rinse them long enough in cold water which causes them to clump together, or even just have weak tasting broth, but this place suffered from none of that. Everything was great! If you’re new to eating 냉면 make sure you check out our video on what makes a good 냉면, and if you’re in LA, you can try out the place we went to by going to Yu Chun at
3185 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, 90006.

David took us to a popular drunk food hang out which had a lot to offer on the menu, but in the end it fell pretty flat. David got the pork donkatsu which wasn’t terrible, but the sauce on it was for the Japanese style tonkatsu, and the cutlet itself was a bit too floppy. You can tell because it had a more BBQ style twang to it while Korean donkatsu sauce is more like a gravy. So -10 points for Gryffindor. Simon’s meal wasn’t bad even though the pork had a different taste, but my meal was AWFUL. I didn’t get into it in detail but the huge hunk of kimchi at the bottom of the stone bowl just got all burnt and yucky and there was no crisping of the rice whatsoever. It was like a subpar kimchi fried rice that cost way too much. And it’s weird because Bibimbap is getting to be so trendy now that you’d think they wouldn’t mess that up! David the next time you’re drunk, call Mama Martina and I’ll come to your house and make you an amazing kimchi fried rice with spam, eggs, and crispy seaweed okay? Okay. In the meantime, you can see what Korea’s best bibimbap looks like over here.

Last up was BCD Tofu House in K-Town, which we were the most excited about because we went to their Korean chain in Bucheon for our first meal ever in Korea. Yes: we went to Korea’s version of this LA place. I’m not sure which one came first, but oddly I think that BCD in LA came first and then it became popular in Korea. At least, that’s the vibe I was getting from people. Anyhow, I will say the atmosphere is totally right and the soondubu broth itself was super yummy. We ordered “danger” level spice and I can honestly say I’ve never had soondubu that spicy in Korea before. So that was fantastic! Korean spice is never spicy for us, except on rare occasions.

But when it came to the Ham Cheese one that Simon ordered it was pretty disappointing in that it didn’t come with spam. That’s a serious issue! NO SPAM?! WHAT!?? Also you couldn’t taste any cheese at all. I want chunks of spam and a liquified processed cheese slice in my soondubu if I order the Ham Cheese variety! However, despite this outrageous lack of spam, the broth itself was pretty yummy and I would go there again if I had a hankering. It’s definitely legit Soondubu if you’re looking for it, so don’t be discouraged, but its special offshoot that we’re used to in Korea isn’t the same here. So, overall, good choice David and Jen! Check out BCD Tofu House at 3575 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, 90010.

Last up, we made a new friend that night: Arden Cho (who you might know as Kira Yukimura on Teen Wolf) and she gave us a list of her favourite K-Town locations that she wished we had time to try. She was mad at David for recommending Hodori as good Korean food hahahahahah! We couldn’t go to check out these places because by the time we were done eating it was almost 3AM, so we can’t tell you if they’re legit or not, but the death stare Arden gave us makes me think that these places are legit. She recommends Ham Ji Park for pork bone soup at 3407 W 6th St #101c, Los Angeles, 90020. We haven’t been there so we can’t vet it ourselves, but she seemed pretty serious about it, so we’re trusting her!

Lastly, let us know if you have any Korean food restaurants outside of Korea that you’d recommend. We’re always excited when we see people posting pictures of trying Korean food for the first time, so we’d love to keep that going with more recommendations!

And, of course, no Food Video is complete without extra scenes. Check it out!

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Is Food in Koreatown Legit?

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  1. !! Is that the SuperNintendo Aladdin game-over music? I used to play that all the time when I was younger.

    4 years ago
  2. This is my first video watched after meeting you in person so I was smiling like a crazy person the whole time. I really like you guys talking about the difference in LA korean food vs legit korean food mainly because I hear so much about LA being the best Korean food outside of Korea. I live in Chicago and that always made me wonder if it was true.

    I’d love for you guys to try Korean food all over one of these days and see all the different ways people make it.

    Anyway~! I always love FapFaps! Thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago
    • Oh that’s so cool! I’m glad you’re still watching our videos after our event! And, yeah, I’d be interested in trying Korean food in other places as well. Hopefully we can do more of these :D

      4 years ago
  3. Thanks for sharing this awesome video, Simon and Martina :D Althought, I did enjoy your video from Houston, this is my favorite FAPFAP since you did the Korean bar one.
    I think it’s really interesting to see how food translate across borders, and to see if/how much it replicate the original when it enters a new culture.
    I had my first Bibimbap and Donkatsu experience when I was in London earlier this summer, but I have no idea if it mimics the real deal or not, but I really liked it. I wish there was any Korean restaurants in Norway, but I haven’t been able to find one yet. Also, I have a feeling they would butcher it, as Norwegian food tends to be very bland, with very little spice. I have however managed to find gochujang and kimchi in the ethnic foodstores, and I am now experimenting with making Korean(…ish…?) food :D Thanks for being my inspiration, guise :D

    4 years ago
  4. I always go to Korean themed restaurants to try and see what the food is like. It’s good to know that in some places the food tastes really close to the real thing! I’m starting my very own YouTube featuring me eating foreign food and stuff, hopefully if i get all successful I’ll have a chance to do a collab with you guys! Love you guys!

    4 years ago
  5. Wow, that soup bowl woooow, i can eat that whole week O.o
    Ech, still can’t to use to new design. Last one was more cosy

    4 years ago
  6. Everyone in the youtube comments is arguing about the potato salad. I’m American. My mom’s American. She puts apple in her potato salad. It’s disgusting and wrong and I can’t get her to stop, but it IS American to ruin potato salad with apple.

    4 years ago
  7. I lived in Koreatown LA for almost 5 years. From all my Korean friends, they usually complain about the fried chicken, kimchi jjigae (I think that’s because it’s comfort food) and that’s pretty much it. Oh wait, lack of street foods. Anywho, Yu Chun was just a block from my old place and the BCD you went to, I actually prefer the other Ktown location on Western. I’ve been to both a lot and Western wins 95% of the time. Hodori is crap, but when it is late and your taste buds are impaired, that’s where you end up. Best dolsot place IMO, is just a block away from Hodori on Olympic: Beverly Soon Tofu. Oh man, I wish it was open late night, but it doesn’t matter. SO GOOD. Arden is correct, Ham Ji Park is LEGIT. Their spicy pork is SO good. Same with Hong Galbi on Olympic. I loved living in Koreatown. I can’t wait to get a trip in to Korea to taste the differences.

    4 years ago
  8. We’ve got several Korean restaurants here in Anchorage, AK. They’re all family-owned. I think the food tastes pretty authentic if I compare the restaurant food with the food I’d get at my Korean friends’ houses. That “dolsot bibimbap” broke my heart. WHERE WAS EVERYTHING, SRSLY??? We’ve got this place called Hometown Korean that’s starting to become a new favorite here. The only thing we’re really missing is a real Korean BBQ spot. I don’t know why that hasn’t caught on yet.

    On a side note, I just came back from Beijing not too long ago and when we were there we went to this Korean place that was hidden away, literally. We had to walk through a tunnel, past a karaoke joint, and at the end was the restaurant. I was surprised that they served Korean street food. Those aren’t typical food finds at the Korean restaurants I’m used to (except Hometown Korean, because they’re amazing!!). They tasted alright, but Chinese-Korean food, at least that place, was nothing special.

    4 years ago
  9. I visited a Korean restaurant, the Dolsot Bibimbap costs $9,25… it has meat, but ground meat. I didn’t order, because we chose Samgyeopsal, heheheh

    4 years ago
  10. This was a great video Simon and Martina. And, Martina, your eye make-up was on point in this video! I found that I was focusing a lot on your eyes in the last restaurant you visited. How do you do it so perfectly?!?!?!

    4 years ago
  11. At the EYK tour LA, my friend asked Soo Zee and Leigh if they had a chance try the food in K-town to see if it was legit. They told us that you went without them (and now we have video confirmation! For future reference, we would have gladly taken them off your hands for a few hours). I guess now he has his answer. Maybe I’ll heckle him to go check out one of these restaurants this weekend.

    4 years ago
    • Ha! Leigh and Soo Zee were at Vidcon at that time. Next time I’ll put them in your hands to take care of :D

      4 years ago
  12. There’s two Korean restaurants that my bf and I like in Vancouver. House of Tofu soup, and Daeji Cutlet house. House of Tofu soup makes good Soondubu and its the only restaurant that serves the dish the way it is normally served in Korea. Only downside is that there aren’t that many options for what stuff you can put in the soup (No spam and cheese :( ), but it’s still good broth.
    Daeji makes good pork cutlet and chicken wings. I also love their spicy pork hock. Spicy, but good.

    We also like Kimbap Cheonguk, but I don’t think that counts on this list…

    4 years ago
  13. maybe I’m not as korean food deprived as a i thought i was. my whole state only has 1 barbecue, 1 what i call a legit k resto(no japanese food) and 4-5 combo places. 2 of which are across the street from each other for some reason. you’re lucky if you get 4-5 banchan :( I got so excited when I found a place in NYC that served silkworms but didn’t have enough time to go.
    I know when I go to korea this year I’m eating everything even hongeo. you guise can come along for the laugh if you want.

    4 years ago
  14. There is a great Korean restaurant in Columbus Ohio called Min-Ga. I have to drive 2.5 hours to get to it, but it’s the closest Korean food to my city. The restaurant itself is in a strange place… a strip mall! The food tastes delicious (although I’ve never been to Korea, so I have nothing to compare it to). Our waitress is always great. One waitress we had talked to me about kpop, then gifted me a kpop mix cd she made! I pretty much always order the Dolsot Bibimbap when I go there, because it’s my favorite. The Mandu is really good too, and the Bulgogi is yummmmm. Here is a pic of our food. https://instagram.com/p/Wz3xfonrmQ/?taken-by=ephinyus
    For any Nasties who want to try Min-Ga, the address is 800 Bethel Rd. Columbus, OH 43214

    4 years ago
  15. I find that Koreatwon in California is way bigger the the one ine NYC.

    4 years ago
    • Over three square miles! Mixed with a lot of great Mexican food, too!

      4 years ago
  16. Hodori is Kang Ho Dong’s restaurant.
    I’ve heard that it is rather mediocre.

    4 years ago
    • Actually, it is not to my knowledge. His company does own Baekjeong, Ahgassi Gopchang and Quarters.

      4 years ago