Discover Koreatown's Shopping Secrets
K-town malls, food courts, boutiques and more
At only three square miles, Koreatown has more large malls than any similar sized area in America with an emphasis on markets, skin care, and home goods. Peppered among the shops, whether in a mall or side street, are entertainment venues, trendy dessert shops, coffeehouses, and restaurants. Read on for the best shopping destinations in Koreatown.
Located at Western and 9th Street, this three-story indoor shopping mall was the first to open in Koreatown. Occupied by 70 shops (with many carrying European designer brands), the mall features H Mart (which replaced Plaza Market), a multitude of skincare shops, home goods, jewelry, and an array of food options, including the International Food Court —one of the best food courts in the area with 12 stalls serving up street food.
Koreatown Plaza: The Goods
Music Plaza fills every need for K-pop fans. Fancy House carries knick-knacks, stationery, Hello Kitty, K-pop paraphernalia, and Korean plush toys. ABC Plaza home goods inventory ranges from Korean cookware to English dishware, as well as home appliances, lunchboxes, and personal goods. Stop by Luggage Town for a colorful selection of bags, luggage and wallets, plus school and travel accessories. Check out Aritaum and Plaza Cosmetics for skin care needs.
Koreatown Plaza: The Eats
One of the most popular stalls in the International Food Court, Cheesetella specializes in castella - an original Taiwanese recipe for a very light sponge cake that is only slightly sweet with choices of cheese, cream, or chocolate filling. Large, rectangular pieces are cut and packed in takeaway boxes. Get it with a sweet, iced Da Bang coffee. Next door is Awoolim, serving up kimbap (sushi rolls without the raw fish), tteokbokki (rice cylinders in sauce) and Korean tacos. But the big star here is the Sikhye Slushie—sweetened cooked rice and barley powder blended with ice. Seoul Soondae House Two is popular for Korean sausages. Other good bets include Tonkatsu House and Pao Jao Dumpling House.
MaDang the Courtyard
This modern three-level outdoor shopping and entertainment center is located on a very busy corner of Western and Wilshire (across the street from Mama Lion on one corner and The Wiltern on the other). It is known as one of the more demographically mixed centers due to trendy dessert shops, H Mart, and CGV Cinemas, which features Korean films with English subtitles and vice versa.
MaDang the Courtyard: The Goods
Located beneath Madang Plaza, H Mart Koreatown is very clean and modern and carries an essential inventory of Korean and Asian goods, including ready made food, marinated and pre-sliced meats, live and fresh seafood, sushi, and produce as well as more upscale American products such as McConnell’s ice cream. Ktown, a Korean food stall, is inside the market with an array of traditional dishes. Daiso is a Japanese chain store with a little bit of everything for $1.50, including bento boxes and all kinds of utensil paraphernalia, stationery, home goods, origami tools and cosmetics. Inventory at Cosmetic World includes a wide selection of American and Japanese brands such as Clinique, Estee Lauder, SK-II, Fresh, Shiseido, and Clarins. Aladdin Books is the first L.A. branch of a Korean chain known for buying and selling old Korean books, English books, CDs, and DVDs. Open by appointment only, Bobo’s sells upscale (think Chanel) gently used handbags and accessories.
MaDang the Courtyard: The Eats
Sul & Beans is a dessert spot known for some of the best bingsoo (the Korean version of shaved ice) in two dozen flavors with a variety of toppings. Modeled after a trendy Korean street food called Ah-Boong, Somisomi soft serve is swirled in a fish-shaped cone. Cream puffs are the specialty of Beard Papa’s Japanese franchise. An outlet of the Paris Baguette Bakery Café Korean chain entices with self-serve pastries, bread, frozen desserts, coffee, made-to-order sandwiches and more.
Koreatown Galleria: Galleria Market
There are numerous markets in Koreatown, but the Galleria Market in the Koreatown Galleria on Olympic and Western is the largest Korean market Los Angeles offers. There is also a newer and smaller location on Vermont, but the original is the place to visit first. It’s located on the bottom floor of the mall, which features more than 70 stores and an Asian food court aka the "Food Gallery." The market itself carries mostly Korean products, as well as a good selection of Japanese and Chinese goods. In addition to produce, every grocery staple imaginable, and Korean imports, there's an elaborate seafood section with prepared sashimi, whole fish, and live fruits of the sea, including octopus, abalone, prawns, lobsters, and Dungeness crab. The prepared banchan bar is filled with impressive fresh side dish items, including clams, octopus, pickles, kimchi and lotus root. There’s also a self-serve area with galbi and marinated meats for easy DIY barbecuing.
Koreatown Galleria: Kitchen Plus
This hidden warehouse store is located in the basement beneath the Koreatown Galleria. Take the elevator in the garage down to P-1. The only directions are written in Korean. Turn left out of the elevator and enter a food warehouse with enormous bags of dried mushrooms, shrimp, noodles and more for incredibly low prices. A small sign will lead you to Kitchen Plus. (Look up and to the left or you might miss it.) The cramped space is filled with tall aisles filled with over 15,000 items, organized by the type and material. The supplies are mostly imported from Korea and cater to restaurateurs, with many of the items pegged for Asian cooking, but there are still plenty of treasures for the home cook: glassware, ceramic dishes, napkins, placemats, steamers, pots and pans, cooling racks, knives, trash cans, cutting boards, plastic containers—all at prices that seem too good to be true.
Occupying a full city block, this eye-catching architectural building on 6th and Kenmore is hard to miss. The iron sign atop Chapman Plaza reads “Chapman Market,” which was the original name. Built in 1929, the design is Spanish Baroque revival style and was first built as a drive-through grocery store with a courtyard that served wealthy families from nearby Hancock Park, Windsor Square and Fremont Place, and those who visited the infamous Ambassador Hotel. Now it is a gathering place where eateries and shops face inward to the small parking lot.
Chapman Plaza: The Goods
Shibuyala is a "super kawaii" Japanese cosmetics and beauty supply store that carries everything from Sanrio products to high-end imports.
Chapman Plaza: The Eats
The popular Korean BBQ restaurant chain, Kanghodong Baekjeong is owned by South Korean wrestler and comedian Kang Ho-Dong. Quarters BBQ features a modern, inventive menu with creative tapas and a busy bar. Toe Bang is a fun dive bar and restaurant with a water wheel outside. Sake House is a Korean run sushi restaurant. Escala is a lively gastropub owned by Seoul Sausage kingpin and celebrity chef/restaurant entrepreneur, Chris Oh.
City Center on 6th
The draws at this three-story retail center on 6th Street and Alexandria include H Mart (replacing Zion Market), Concerto Bakery, EMC Seafood, Crystal Spa, and a few select stores.
City Center on 6th: The Goods
Located on the second floor, K-Star Music is a mecca for K-pop fans, selling everything from CDs and DVDs to merch like posters, photobooks, magazines and collectibles. Part of Aveda, Crystal Spa is a full-service concept spa for men and women.
City Center on 6th: The Eats
Cocohodo features small, walnut shaped pastry balls filled with walnuts and red bean paste. Buy them by the bag or the box. Each is individually wrapped. Located in the Cake House space across from H Mart, Concerto Bakery & Cafe serves up Cold Cream Buns, Salted Butter Rolls, and unique creations like the Squid Ink Garlic Cheese Bun. Custom cakes are also available. The K-town outpost of the CoCo Ichibanya chain features hearty portions of Japanese-style curry. The original EMC Seafood occupies a large corner on the center’s exterior and is known for the raw bar offering oysters, clams, live uni, sushi, seafood tower and a popular happy hour, as well as a variety of starters, noodles, and seafood every which way.
Palace Beauty Metro
This Korean beauty store and salon is located in all the major Korean malls, but the location at Wilshire and Vermont is known for excellent customer service and a very large, organized inventory. The shop specializes in Korean beauty products with brands such as Whoo, AHC, IASO, O HUI, Isa Knox, Sooryehan, LJH, Ossion, IPKN, as well as all kinds of beauty tools. American and European brands include Caudalie, Paul Mitchell, KMS, Redken, Dermalogica, Alterna and Bioken. A major part of Korean beauty treatments are BB creams and facial masks which are found in abundance here. Chinstraps are also a big deal—with many swearing they work.
Sixth Sense Los Angeles
Opened in 2016, this family-owned home furnishings and accessories store is located on 6th and Oxford, across the street from Here’s Looking At You. It’s the kind of place where you might hold your breath before looking at a price tag—until you see that it's surprisingly reasonable, especially for the look and quality of the pieces. In addition to the floor inventory, they also offer interior design service and custom designs which are priced according to materials and work involved. There is also a great selection of gift items—frames, tableware, wall décor, and various other home goods.
Karen's Garden is a lovely, sophisticated floral studio specializing in weddings and specials events that are designed for individual needs and price considerations. In addition to using flowers, they also design with exotic green plants and arrangements. Flower delivery is available as well.