Sure Koreatown Plaza is a mall, but it’s a mall with one of the best food courts in Los Angeles. It’s most often packed to the rafters with locals who have been coming here for lunch and dinner for years. Head downstairs for the chow.
Many come here for the cold noodles but I come for the rabokki. Spicy as hell, rabokki is some kind of Asian-meets-college-dorm concoction, with ramen noodles smothered in sauce, hot peppers, cabbage, carrot and chewy rice cakes. Sounds gross? You haven’t eaten it. Town Noodle offers a monstrous portion, big enough for two, if not three.
This restaurant has a surprisingly modern feel, given that it serves street food. The bulgogi tacos ($2.50 for two) are the winner here — simple, seasoned meat wrapped in a tortilla with tomatoes and onion on top. Most everyone also grabs a $1.00 fish cake, which comes served on a stick and dunked in a cup of mystery broth.
For ten bucks you’ll receive a tonkatsu plate big enough for two meals. Included is a huge pork cutlet, drowned in brown sauce with a slightly spicy kick and sides of macaroni salad, shredded cabbage (with Thousand Island dressing on top should you wish) and white rice. A popular move at this food court is to order a tonkatsu for the family, then add on smaller items from other restaurants.
Pa Jao Dumpling House
Walk around for a few minutes and you’ll discover that table after table contains Pa Jao’s shrimp dumplings, which are tubular and come in a portion of eight. Not to be discounted, though, are the softball-sized king dumplings, which are filled with vegetables, glass noodles and minced pork.
This is the spot for traditional Korean food. The dolsot bibimbap, essentially a bowl of spicy vegetables with a perfectly cooked egg on top, is the most popular. As with most Korean meals, you’re going to be hammered with banchan (side dishes), which here include kimchi, pickled cucumbers, seaweed soup and whatever else they’ve got on hand that day.
Stroll right past the forty or so bins of pristine baked goods and head right for the little freezer near the cash register, where you’ll find ice candy in five flavors. The coffee pop is a must — it tastes like a collision between Colombian roast and sweet cream.
Koreatown Plaza is located at 928 Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006