Discover Koreatown's Shopping Secrets

K-town malls, food courts, boutiques and more

MaDang the Courtyard

 |  Photo:  Karen Young

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.

Koreatown Plaza | Photo by Karen Young

Koreatown Plaza

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 The Plaza grocery store, 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.

Music Plaza at Koreatown Plaza | Photo by Karen Young

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. Parashu, Rodeo Handbag and Milano all carry high end designer handbags and shoes from such designers as Celine, Lanvin, Chloe, Balenciaga, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Alexander McQueen. Check out Aritaum/Amore and Cosmetics Plaza for skin care needs.

Cheesetella at Koreatown Plaza

 |  Photo: Karen Young

Koreatown Plaza: The Eats

Cheesetella is the most modern and newest stall to the International Food Court with “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 Hot Tofu, Tonkatsu House and Pa Jao Dumpling House.

MaDang the Courtyard | Photo by Karen Young

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.

Kimchi at H Mart in MaDang the Courtyard | Instagram by @bodhifoxphoto

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. The Face Shop is a Korean franchise that carries lines of natural cosmetics. This particular shop is among the smallest, yet carries the absolute essentials. It’s located street side on Western and shares space with Chocolate Chair. 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. Across the way is a custom shop selling beautiful, authentic Korean celebration wears with signage that is only written in Korean.

Paris Baguette at MaDang the Courtyard | Photo by Karen Young

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,” Somi Somi soft serve is swirled in a fish-shaped cone. Chocolate Chair sells shaved ice, ice cream concoctions, and macarons, but the draw here is the “Dragon’s Breath”—liquid nitrogen ice cream balls that produces a ‘dragon’ effect—smoke being blown out of your mouth and nose when you eat it. Klat Kafe is an all-day American café meets Korean fast casual dining that serves full meals, as well as waffles, desserts, nitro cold brew, coffee, eggs, sandwiches, and specialties such as ribeye kimchi fried rice. Cream puffs are the specialty of Beard Papa’s Japanese franchise. Hansol Noodle is the home of naengmyeon (cold noodles), a slow simmered broth from a well-known Korean group. Across the way, 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.

Galleria Market at Koreatown Galleria | Photo: @turffsucks, Instagram

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. The market also includes Cake House (the Korean bakery chain), Dong Bang Mi ln (a rice cake bakery), VNS Chicken, a pharmacy, vitamin kiosk, and an orchid shop.

Kitchen Plus at Koreatown Galleria | Photo by Karen Young

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.

Chapman Plaza | Photo de Karen Young

Chapman Plaza

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.

Fashion Rialto | Photo: Chapman Plaza

Chapman Plaza: The Goods

The family-run Fashion Rialto boutique carries European and American brands for men and women. Styles are denim driven featuring such designers as Paige, AG, Zadig & Voltaire, Chan Luu, and Scotch & Soda. Part of a growing chain, Shibuyala is a "super kawaii" Japanese cosmetics and beauty supply store that carries everything from Sanrio products to high-end imports.

Toe Bang Cafe at Chapman Plaza in Koreatown | Photo: @toebangcafe, Instagram

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. At Gaam Restaurant and Lounge, Korean food meets K-pop music for a raucous good time. Cafe Cielito offers desserts, drinks, and casual food. Snow Monster serves over-the-top made-to-order ice cream sandwiches, plus house-made boba tea drinks with homespun cotton candy (spend a couple dollars extra and take home a cute glass container). Toe Bang is a fun dive bar and restaurant with a water wheel outside. Sake House is a Korean run sushi restaurant. Curio City Coffee is a modern upscale coffee house with select pastries and cookies. Escala is a lively gastropub owned by Seoul Sausage kingpin and celebrity chef/restaurant entrepreneur, Chris Oh.

City Center on 6th

City Center on 6th

The draws at this three-story retail center on 6th Street and Alexandria are Zion SuperMarket, Cake House, EMC Seafood, Crystal Spa and a few select stores.

Crystal Spa at City Center on 6th | Photo: Crystal Aveda Concept Spa, Facebook

City Center on 6th: The Goods

Noteworthy retail includes Fancy Shop for imported Korean stationery, jewelry, toys, and cutesy kitsch galore. Cali Shoes and Handbags carries reasonably priced goods that are often on sale. Soho on 6th sells upscale, designer merchandise. Stop by The Face Shop, a popular Korean beauty store for your beauty needs. Part of Aveda, Crystal Spa is a full-service concept spa for men and women.

EMC Seafood & Raw Bar in Koreatown | Photo: @graceyourself_, Instagram

City Center on 6th: The Eats

Zion Supermarket is located on the first floor and is a convenient stop for specialty Korean goods. As a grocery store, it's on the smaller side compared to other Korean stores, but the prices are very good and there is a sizable selection of Korean snacks, banchan, produce, and seafood. But the single best reason to make the trip is for some of the food stalls. 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. Also a must is the bungeoppang at Zion Catering—carp shaped bread filled with red bean paste that is made in an adjacent stall. Across from Zion Market is the Cake House —a Koreatown bakery chain. 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 | Photo by Karen Young

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

 |  Photo: Karen Young

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. A pair of marble tables cost $150. A mid-modern style dining chair is $150, and a small sideboard is $250. 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.

Photo: Karen's Garden

Karen's Garden

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.