Discover the Top Korean BBQ Restaurants in L.A.


The sizzle and smoke of the tabletop Korean barbecue is one of the definitive features of the L.A. dining scene. The abundance of well-priced American protein and a rabid following of diners has created a critical mass of restaurants specializing in grilled meats, nearly overshadowing the love of barbecue in the motherland itself. Through the years, barbecue restaurants have segmented into various categories – premium, all-you-can-eat, and middle-ranged a la carte, with each place trumpeting a particular specialty or stand-out side dish. Still other places emphasize the grilling devices and methods, where stalwarts like Soot Bull Jeep employ charcoal for a smokier experience and others rely on special grates for more direct heat.

Barbecue is best enjoyed with a glass of ice cold Hite, a simple Korean lager, or a chilled shot of soju, the national spirit of choice. Think of Korean barbecues almost like more affordable steakhouses, where it's easy to get together with friends and family for a casual lunch or evening to celebrate the variety and quality of great beef, pork, and banchan. It's hard to go wrong with that formula in our 15 top picks.

Pork jowl at Ahgassi Gopchang in Koreatown | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Pork jowl at Ahgassi Gopchang in Koreatown | Photo: Joshua Lurie

Ahgassi Gopchang

Chris Lee and the 6th Avenue restaurant group helped launch Korean smash hit Kang Ho Dong Baek Jeong in L.A. They also run Quarters Korean BBQ and Ahgassi Gopchang nearby in K-town. Ahgassi’s logo depicts a sassy young woman and the menu specializes in gopchang, cow’s small intestine. Experience fatty, slightly funky mountain tripe in a high-value combo that also comes with large intestine sheets and chewy slabs of abomasum (the cow’s fourth stomach that produces an enzyme called rennet that’s used to separate curds from whey when making cheese). Accompaniments include raw garlic (to cook), and bubbling kimchi stew. Mountain tripe also factors into fried rice, either with our without molten cheese. Some customers might find so much tripe daunting, so Ahgassi Gopchang also offers multi-meat combos with more recognizable cuts like thin-sliced beef brisket, Prime skirt steak, pork short rib, and firm, fat-rimmed pork jowl.

Chosun Galbee Korean BBQ | Photo: @hungryhungryheejin, Instagram
Chosun Galbee Korean BBQ | Photo: @hungryhungryheejin, Instagram

Chosun Galbee

The airy, clean confines of Chosun Galbee make this the place to bring the parents. The excellent ventilation system ensures that diners won't smell strongly of smoke while servers donning hanbok (the traditional Korean garb) present high-quality cuts of galbi and more. The banchan selection here is admirable, almost addictive, with picks like delectable kimchi and cucumbers, julienned daikon radish, and even the slow-braised stringy beef called jangjorim that's not found at barbecue places as often as banchan. The grills always get a pat of butter for extra fat and seasoning, while servers start the grilling for diners. The long strips of unmarinated galbi are the best pick overall, though the weekday combo platters often present a whole ribeye steak, thin curls of fresh beef brisket, and some chunks of lightly marinated beef for a different flavor. At this point some of the newer places have a little more flash and sizzle, but Chosun remains the old stand-by, that spot that's consistently excellent.

Galbi and dongchimi guksu (cold noodle soup) at The Corner Place | Photo: @qkrzud, Instagram
Galbi and dongchimi guksu (cold noodle soup) at The Corner Place | Photo: @qkrzud, Instagram

The Corner Place

This Koreatown classic is known for two things – great barbecue and great cold noodles. Put the two of them together and it's possibly the best one-two punch in Korean cuisine. The underlying details of The Corner Place start with two banchan placed on the table when seated. First, it's the almost-spicy shaved pile of green onions tossed in a black pepper and sesame oil. Then there's a medium-sized bowl of dongchimi, which is a lightly fermented 'soup' of various crunchy vegetables like daikon radish. That particular bowl is for sipping and picking out during the meal, but that "soup" makes the addictive, tangy broth that comes with the cold white noodles, known as dongchimi guksu. Tabletop grills quickly get filled with the standard players – marinated short rib bulgogi, kalbi, the house-specialty skirt steak that's lightly marinated, and other variety cuts like paper-thin beef tongue slices and chewy bits of beef shank. Then these pieces are meant to be washed down with slurps of cold noodles whose broth recipe is so secret that only a few people (likely grandmothers) know how to make it. Copied all around town but never replicated, the noodles are what makes The Corner Place amazing.

Pork belly at Eight Korean BBQ | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Pork belly at Eight Korean BBQ | Photo: Joshua Lurie

Eight Korean BBQ

Grace Min owns branches of Eight Korean BBQ in Koreatown, Buena Park, and Singapore and specializes in Mangalitsa pork belly that sizzles on a state of the art platter. The platter tilts so grease spills into a receptacle, a handy, fat-saving design touch. The steel tray also features pineapple rings, bean sprouts, and kimchi, which crisp in draining grease. Eight signature pork belly flavors all tout different health benefits. Healthy pork belly? According to Eight Korean BBQ, yes. “Original” fat-streaked pork belly is simply seasoned and “rich in Vitamin B1.” Herb “alleviates stress and depression.” Miso paste is “rich in flavonoids.” Other notable griddled pork preparations include fattier, crispier pork jowl and thicker, unseasoned pork belly that’s scored and rolled into a flower shape. Banchan is limited to simple dishes like macaroni salad and steamed egg with corn.

Short ribs at Genwa Korean BBQ | Photo by Joshua Lurie
Short ribs at Genwa Korean BBQ | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Genwa Korean BBQ - Mid Wilshire

Though a bit west of Koreatown, this Mid-City restaurant (and Genwa’s Beverly Hills spinoff) does a great job of making Korean barbecue approachable. The room looks dark and fancy, unusual for some people that expect bright lights and plain décor. The service is also very helpful, with most servers fluent in English. The banchan selection is simply unparalleled in the city, with over twenty tiny bowls matched together on the plate, looking like a visual feast in itself. Then the meat selections come out, which are conveniently put together in combination orders for diversity. The pork belly and brisket are very good, but the galbi might be even better, marinated to the brink of savoriness and then browned on the hot grill. The expansive menu also has plenty of a la carte choices like spicy pork belly, unseasoned short ribs, and even a Wagyu beef ribeye for an over-the-top bite.

Bulgogi Ribeye at Gwang Yang BBQ | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Bulgogi Ribeye at Gwang Yang BBQ | Photo: Joshua Lurie

Gwang Yang BBQ

Gwang Yang BBQ is a Seoul import that’s located on a Koreatown side street and eschews combos in favor of higher end, a la carte barbecue. Wood slat walls contain wood tables that host grills with high-powered overhead hoods that eliminate any noticeable smoke. Gwang Yang bulgogi is a signature marinated beef dish that requires a two-order minimum. This “Gangnam-style” preparation apparently isn’t as sweet as L.A.-style. Ggot deungsim showcases juicy Prime ribeye. Buljip saeng samgyepsal is their best pork bet, starring meaty sliced Kurobuta pork belly. Gwang Yang BBQ also features a stupendous raw beef preparation that never touches the grill. American Kobe yukhwoe is a premium spicy beef tartare tossed with julienne Asian pear and pine nuts.

Pork belly at Honey Pig in Koreatown | Photo: Honey Pig, Facebook
Pork belly at Honey Pig in Koreatown | Photo: Honey Pig, Facebook

Honey Pig

Honey Pig excels at one thing – pork-based barbecue. Beef barbecue is actually not as common in Korea as pork barbecue, mostly because of the high cost of beef. Instead, Koreans have taken their love of pork to new heights, and Honey Pig is one such example. The best cut to get here is the ddong daeji pork belly, which translates literally to “poop pig.” It refers to the black-footed pigs of Jeju Island that reside in the outhouses. Despite the unseemly reference, these pigs are prized for being the highest quality in Korea. Pork belly slices of this guild are found at Honey Pig, where they're placed on the zenith of a massive domed grill which is then dressed underneath with a littering of spiced bean sprouts and strong kimchi. While the fat and juices dribble off into the quagmire of kimchi, the pork belly gets grilled and seared to perfection. The banchan at Honey Pig is pretty sparse, just some rice-paper wraps, tossed salad, and steamed rice upon request, but the action is really on the grill. And for the best finish, ask for the bokeumbap, or fried rice made on the grill using the remaining bits and kimchi.

Beef belly and pork jowl at Jjukku Jjukku BBQ | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Beef belly and pork jowl at Jjukku Jjukku BBQ | Photo: Joshua Lurie

Jjukku Jjukku BBQ

Jjukku Jjukku BBQ is located in the strip mall that sprouted in place of an iconic hat-shaped Brown Derby restaurant branch. This “premium all you can eat” emporium features three cartoon animals on their sign - cow, pig, and octopus - which all grace grills indoors. The space features wood and stone walls and tabletop grills that support many different grates, depending on the protein, and hoods that drop down like periscopes. A (Classic) includes 12 options and B (Deluxe) touts a whopping 36 grillable items. C (Premium) unlocks access to five more special items: Prime boneless short rib, Prime ribeye, Prime short rib, beef tartare, and (mild or spicy) cold noodle. Grilled highlights included beef belly, pork jowl, baby octopus, and marinated spicy beef. Guests also receive steamed egg with scallions and should request a “lunch box” with steamed white rice, tiny fish, egg, kimchi, and SPAM that seamlessly melds. Jjukku Jjukku BBQ offers and no takeout and charges extra for leftover food, to mitigate food waste.

Photo: Kang Hodong Baekjeong, Facebook
Photo: Kang Hodong Baekjeong, Facebook

Kang Ho Dong Baek Jeong

One of the biggest game-changers in recent years for the Korean BBQ scene, Korean celebrity Kang Ho Dong opened his trademark barbecue restaurant in the center of Chapman Plaza, often considered the hotbed of nightlife in Koreatown. This extremely smoky restaurant has an ambiance that resembles the myriad BBQ spots in Seoul – low-flung tables with stellar meat and pristine banchan that focuses more on quality than quantity. The galbi and beef cuts are generously portioned and perfect for sharing, getting grilled on open grates that are all the rage in the best KBBQ places. Then the standard, thicker steel grills are brought out for the pork cuts so that moisture is not lost. The pork neck is the real treat – long, fatty pieces that firm up on the grill and get an addictive chew.

Magal BBQ in Koreatown | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Magal BBQ in Koreatown | Photo: Joshua Lurie

Magal BBQ

Magal BBQ is part of a prolific Korean juggernaut with over 480 restaurants worldwide, mainly in Asia. Their Koreatown outpost is still worth visiting. The space features colorful icons and booths with cushioned stools. Each griddle has an upraised grate that allows residual grease to drip into pan, along with moats for creamy corn kernels and egg with punchy kimchi. Magal BBQ packages enticing 2-3 person combos that revolve around either beef or pork. Beef combines skirt meat with paper-thin Prime brisket endpoints, Prime boneless short rib, marinated Prime short rib, eel, grilled prawns, grilled rice cake cylinders, grilled mushrooms, boneless short rib sushi torched tableside, and soybean paste soup with beef brisket. Their pork combo is no less thrilling, teaming skirt meat with pork belly, special neck meat, marinated collar, and the same accompaniments. To finish, order “volcano” fried rice with sesame oil, nori, and a surrounding sea of egg. Yuk ka jang is a spicy shredded beef soup with leeks and glass noodles.

Beef tongue at Oo-Kook in Koreatown | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Beef tongue at Oo-Kook in Koreatown | Photo: Joshua Lurie

Oo Kook BBQ

A Korean gourmand's dream, this type of barbecue simply isn't possible in the motherland. Oo-Kook, which stands for “cattle country,” is an all-you-can-eat specialist whose quality of meat compares to the best in Koreatown. The setting is a little darker and more intimate than the typical shop, though the second story building and its open windows give the restaurant a little more liveliness than other Korean BBQ places, which tend to be dingy and smokey. The tabletop grill is standard issue, without the more celebrated charcoal briquets that are often seen at BBQ spots of this caliber. The best cut might be the tender but flavorful skirt steak, but the signature thin slices of chadol baegee, beef short ribs, are probably the best in town. The pork belly, probably the second most popular all-you-can-eat order, is no slouch either, resulting in terrific seared pieces that remain unctuous and chewy with every bite. Whole ribeye steaks are available for a real steakhouse feel, as well as a slew of variety meats, like intestines (which is not for the faint of heart). To up the ante further, Oo-Kook even offers shrimp and baby octopus for the grill, something not often found in Koreatown.

Daniel Henney at Park's BBQ
Daniel Henney at Park's BBQ

Park's BBQ

Jenee Kim opened this branch of Park's BBQ, originally from Seoul's Chungdam District, in the heart of Koreatown nearly ten years ago. Since then it's been the standard-bearer of Korean barbecue not only in Los Angeles, but in America. It's likely the highest quality experience outside of Korea available, with an incredible selection of meat that's unrivaled in the city. The piece de resistance of any meal here is the kkot ssal, which stands for flower cut, referring to the highly marbled cuts of short rib that resemble A5 Wagyu beef. Once on the tabletop grill, these pieces firm up and gain a modicum of color before getting a dip in sesame oil for a decadent bite. The marinated meats and banchan are of fantastic quality, as well as the ice-cold naeng myun, or chilled buckwheat noodles in a clear beef broth. Park's also specializes in a nice selection of true Wagyu beef cuts, which is difficult to find in Koreatown.

Quarters Korean BBQ in Koreatown  | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Quarters Korean BBQ in Koreatown | Photo: Joshua Lurie

Quarters Korean BBQ

Quarters Korean BBQ joined sister restaurant Kang Ho Dong Baek Jeong in Chapman Plaza, complete with club music and a mysterious tagline: “beyond the sixth sense.” The space features an open-air beer bar and patio with communal fire pit table to accommodate people who wait. The building also houses tan booths, a glass-fronted kitchen, and cow diagram that appears on white tiles. All dipping sauces and banchan await diners when they’re seated, likely including kimchi, marinated tofu cubes, two types of salad, and sweet squash studded with raisins. Quarters champions quarter-pound orders of meat that grill tabletop beneath brown hoods that soak up charcoal-induced meat smoke. Prime Large Combo is a particularly good choice, combining beef ribeye, marinated beef short rib, grilled bulgogi, beef belly, pork belly, spicy pork jowl and spicy pork collar. When customers order at least 5 quarters, they receive a complimentary assorted vegetable skewer, cheese fondue, egg soup, and a choice of spicy kimchi or earthy soybean stew.

Photo: Soowon Galbi, Facebook
Photo: Soowon Galbi, Facebook

Soowon Galbi

Without a doubt one of the more popular premium Korean BBQs in the city, Soowon Galbi boasts high-quality, prime grade meat served in a dark, intimate dining room. The smoke and steam never really seems to dissipate, giving Soowon a near-mystical feeling, but the reality is that the table-top grills burning with charcoal pieces complete the experience. There's the succulent kkot ssal, thin strips of tender, fatty short rib, as well as more moderately priced jumulluk, short rib chunks that are lightly marinated in garlic and sesame oil. The Soowon wang galbi, the house special marinated short rib, comes out slightly salty, but packs a flavor punch once it gets a slight sear on the hot grill. Service is a standout at Soowon, where servers generally initiate and manage the cooking until the last bit, when diners are encouraged to pick meat off at their own preference. The banchan at Soowon also remains a cut above other spots, using freshly pickled kimchi cucumbers, almonds tossed with anchovies, and ultra-intense kimchi that tastes wonderful with bites of galbi.

Yang San Bak in Koreatown | Photo: @michiiielliott, Instagram
Yang San Bak in Koreatown | Photo: @michiiielliott, Instagram

Yang San Bak

This unassuming restaurant in a 6th Street strip mall doesn't look like it's particularly interesting, but the details are what makes Yang San Bak stellar. The meat quality is above average, but the variety that comes in the combos is very helpful for the newbie Korean BBQ enthusiast. Couple that with a hefty domed grill containing a kimchi moat, and you're in business. While the meat cooks on the grill, the juices and fats slowly run into the kimchi, which is simmering in a fish sauce broth for even more flavor. Meat picks in the combo include thinly-sliced brisket, chunks of short rib, whole sirloin, marinated intestines, and thick-sliced pork belly. The banchan is slightly better than the garden variety barbecue joint, which makes the whole experience excellent in every manner. Even the service goes above and beyond, with a quick response on the small dining room floor to every whim. Another plus is that Yang San Bak stays open late every night until 2:00 a.m.