Since there’s so much delicious food in southern California, you will need a few days to try all of them! I lived in Santa Monica when I graduated college and was lucky to try all the delicious food for a year! As you may know, the asian food in Los Angeles (Koreatown), San Gabriel Valley, and Orange County is comparable to their native countries. I’m Cantonese and I think the Chinese food here is very comparable to Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
If you’re ever in southern California, you need to check out some of these asian restaurants:
Authentic Chinese dining has lots of large dishes (meat, vegetables, and more!) that are meant for sharing with your family and friends. We call this eating ‘family style’ and we rotate the lazy susan to try all the different dishes. Top Island Seafood serves mainly Cantonese dishes such as sauteed pea shoots, Cantonese peking duck, and steamed lobster (pictured above). We love ordering peking duck, fried crab or lobster with garlic, and a plate of vegetables.
The meat at Park’s BBQ is super high quality and the marinade for the meats is delicious! However, what makes Park’s BBQ better than all the other spots in K-Town, is their ban-chan (korean side dishes). The side dishes have a modernized flavor and there’s a huge variety of them (spicy raw marinated crab, beef stew, and more!) too. When we asked for a re-fill of side dishes, they gave us different ones instead of refilling the same ones. If that’s not good service, I don’t know what is! Must try meats: brisket, galbi and short rib.
After a delicious meal in koreatown, you need to get a yummy, light & not too sweet dessert! The one pictured is mango and strawberry shaved ice. I love eating korean shaved ice because the fruit is super sweet and the shaved ice has milk in it! The condensed milk added on top compliments the ripe fruit so well. If you haven’t tried korean shaved ice before, you need to get this!
Lots of authentic Japanese ramen can be found in the Sawtelle area of Los Angeles. One of my favorite ramen places is called Tsujita! We love the Tsukemen (dipping ramen) at this location. The broth is super flavorful and you can choose your level of fat content for the broth. If you haven’t tried dipping ramen, you need to try it. The noodles are chewier and the broth is more savory. However, if you like normal ramen (without dipping), you can try the Tsujita across the street!
I tried raw korean marinated crab for the first time last year and I have to say that I love it! The texture of the raw crab tastes like raw scallop. The savory and sweet marinade is so delicious with hot rice (purple rice here is sooo good!). The downside of this place is that it is on the pricier side, $60 for 2 pieces of crab. However, if you’re willing to splurge, I highly recommend trying this place. The side dishes were amazing and tastes more homemade (kinda like grandma’s side dishes!).
The name of this restaurant may be misleading and you may think that this place serves ramen only. In addition to delicious ramen, they have fresh sushi! I know what you’re thinking…’how can a place serve delicious sushi and ramen…’ Well Iki ramen does both super well. Its located in Ktown in a small strip mall and looks unassuming on the outside as well. Considering this is one of my favorite restaurants in LA, I recommend getting the handroll set here, which comes with seaweed from Japan. You wrap it up and you have a crunchy and soft bite. Honestly, I prefer their sushi sets more than their ramen.
Traveling to other spots and unsure what to eat? Check out some of my faves here: