Cheap Eats: Korean


Icon by Peter Hoey

Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant
The soon dubu jjigae, a garlicky stew of soft, fresh tofu and your choice of meat or fish, roils and bubbles in its small iron pot. When the server cracks a raw egg table-side into the steaming mix, it’s cooked on the spot. There is plenty of competition for this 23-year-old Korean café, but it reigns supreme among tofu houses thanks to the supple curd and the carefully balanced broth. » 2717 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. 108, Koreatown, 213-380-1113.

Kobawoo House
This 26-year-old tavern served Korean tacos long before the Kogi truck. Known as bosam, these use white radish slices as a wrapper for slabs of pork and spicy condiments. Equally good with an ice-cold Hite: haemul pajun (a giant seafood pancake). » 698 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown, 213-389-7300.

Korean Dumpling
The fist-size king dumplings at this converted burger stand resemble inflated tortellini, their taut translucent skins bulging with beef and vegetable filling. A standard order, half a dozen for $4.99, would be enough for a linebacker, and the $6.99 combos (two dumplings and a grilled meat of choice) suffice for a small family. Mandu—chubby, crescent-shaped dumplings loaded with beef or kimchi—come floating in huge bowls of soup or panfried. » 698 S. Irolo St., Ste. 111, Koreatown, 213-480-1289.

Wako Tonkatsu
Wako’s specialty is shaggy-coated, deep-fried everything: pork cutlets, chicken, shrimp, fish, beef—even veggies. But the do-it-yourself sauce, a heady splash infused with roasted sesame seeds that you grind at your table, is the star. Combo plates include a warm potato croquet, a hillock of rice, and a refreshing citrus-cabbage salad. » 3377 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 112, Koreatown, 213-381-9256.