Special Report

Best Korean Restaurants in America

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K-pop is far from the only Korean cultural phenomenon that Americans have embraced in recent years. According to the food analytics company Spoonshot, interest in Korean cuisine rose nearly 90% in 2021, and that doesn’t just mean in Korean restaurants.

As lacto-fermented vegetables have gained popularity as health foods, kimchi – a traditional Korean dish of salted and fermented cabbage or other vegetables – has made it onto menus at chain restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen and TGI Friday’s. Even iconic chains like Shake Shack have cashed in on America’s love for the sweet-and-spicy ultra-crispy glazed Korean fried chicken known as “the other KFC.” (Indeed, Korean-style glazes can be found at some of the best chicken wing spots in the U.S.)

But for an authentic taste of Korean cuisine, why not head to one of the nation’s several thousand Korean restaurants? To determine the best Korean restaurants in America, 24/7 Tempo exercised editorial discretion after reviewing information from a variety of sources including Thrillist, Far & Wide, and the Michelin Guide, as well as local and regional sites and reviews by Google and Yelp users.

Some of the largest Korean populations in the U.S. are in Southern California and New York. Accordingly, many of the restaurants on the list are in those two places. Washington, D.C., Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, and Portland (Oregon) all have more than one place listed here, too.

Aside from fried chicken, a staple of Korean dining is a style of barbecue, often simply called KBBQ. Whether the servers cook the food for you on a table-top grill or you cook it yourself, KBBQ is a thrilling way to enjoy numerous cuts of beef and marinated pork; and many of the best Korean restaurants in America specialize in it. (This is very different, of course, from the kind of BBQ you’ll find at the best barbecue restaurant in every state.)

Some others offer fusion menus or New American cuisine with heavy Korean influences. Whether traditional or modern, though, the highlight at many of the best Korean restaurants is a signature spread of banchan, a series of small side dishes that are served before the meal and are often included in the cost of dining (like chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant). Typical banchan include sesame spinach, seasoned bean sprouts, various types of kimchi (cabbage, turnip, radish, or otherwise), spicy cucumbers, and stir-fried eggplant.

Click here for the best Korean restaurants in America

 

Anju
> Location: Washington, D.C.

This cozy contemporary restaurant and pub is named for the Korean concept of food best consumed with alcohol. Flavor-packed bar snacks are served alongside makgeolli (an unfiltered effervescent rice wine), soju, and house cocktails, with classic comforting mains like dolsot bibimbap (sizzling stone bowl rice with vegetables).

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Atomix
> Location: New York, NY

The exquisite tasting menu experience at Atomix starts with snacks and drinks in the lounge before diners are seated at an intimate bar and served an array of ten courses executed with meticulous attention to technique and flavor. From the Hokkaido uni, Australian abalone, and house-milled rice to the evocative printed descriptions of each dish, every detail at Atomix serves to create an unforgettable meal.

Baekjeong
> Location: Los Angeles, CA, and elsewhere

With a flagship restaurant in LA’s Koreatown, numerous locations elsewhere in Southern California, and an outpost in New York City, Baekjeong is among the premier Korean BBQ operations in the U.S. Meats offered include top-quality brisket, ribeye, pork jowls and bellies, and beef tongue, and the flavors of the barbecue are matched by Baekjeong’s outstanding service.

Bori
> Location: Houston, TX

Cuts like beef belly, ribeye cap, and marinated boneless short rib – plus A5 Japanese wagyu steaks at market price – set this upscale restaurant on a tier above the usual Korean BBQ joints; add to that a peaceful outdoor terrace garden and an art gallery, and you’ve got a unique dining destination. While prime cuts of beef and pork steal the show, the seafood pancake is not to be missed.

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Brothers Restaurant
> Location: San Francisco, CA

Cook your own BBQ over mesquite charcoal at this authentic no-frills, family-run establishment. Famous for their kalbi (marinated beef short ribs) and excellent variety of bottomless banchan, this lively and bustling restaurant is a shoo-in for a group celebration or large family dinner.

Coreanos Allston
> Location: Allston, MA

This cozy dine-in and take-out nook in Boston’s Allston neighborhood churns out comforting traditional dishes as well as Korean-Mexican fusion; think kimchi and tofu tacos and short-rib quesadillas. The fried chicken wings and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) are dressed with delectable house-made sauces, and every dish is made to order.

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Cote
> Location: Miami, FL and New York, NY

Both locations of this posh steakhouse are graced with a Michelin star. The original location in Manhattan’s Flatiron District and the second in Miami’s Design District offer top-quality meats and vegetables to char-grill on smokeless table-top grills, as well as show-stopping wine and cocktail selections. Order the Butcher’s Feast to experience the chef’s favorite four cuts of meat with a superb selection of banchan.

Dak & Bop
> Location: Houston, TX

With a name translating to “Chicken and Rice,” Dak and Bop is a modern Korean fried chicken outpost with a bar and happy hour. The menu features traditional dishes as well as inventive snacks like bulgogi poutine and kimchi burgers. The crunchy chicken is fried twice (to order), and the sriracha honey lime sauce is a house favorite.

Gabose Pocha
> Location: Lauderhill, FL

A pocha is a tented street vendor that serves snacks and beverages, often late into the night. At Gabose Pocha, small shared plates, drinks, and weekend karaoke make for a festive outing. The seafood, including fluke, octopus, and abalone are imported from Korea and the menu includes crowd pleasers like chive pancakes, mandu (dumplings), and Spam with buttered rice wrapped in seaweed.

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Gaja Korean Bar
> Location: Atlanta, GA

This hip bar and hangout offers Korean standbys and some Southern fusion items like hush puppies with kimchi mayo and brussels sprouts with pork belly and gochujang honey. Customers love the fried chicken, glass noodles with bone marrow, and cocktails, which feature mixers like soju and Biofeel Korean yogurt drink.

 

Genwa Korean BBQ
> Location: Los Angeles, CA

With an absurdly generous banchan spread and smokeless tabletop grills where expert servers cook marbled cuts of beef to perfection, Genwa is truly a treat in the world of Korean BBQ. The japchae (glass noodle dish) is spectacular, the set course menus will leave you stuffed, and the service and valet parking are top notch.

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Han Oak
> Location: Portland, OR

This upscale Korean-American eatery is known for its inventive cocktails and desserts, as well as its dumplings, chicken wings, and superb tasting menu. The chic surroundings and flair for presentation are well balanced by the intimate, homey vibe and spontaneous karaoke sessions.

Her Name is Han
> Location: New York, NY

A family-owned restaurant that serves updated home-style Korean dishes, Her Name is Han maintains a traditional flavor palette while adding uncustomary ingredients. From the delectable small plates and grilled meats to the hot pot bowls and enchanting botanical cocktails, every offering is a joy to behold.

Hobak Korean BBQ
> Location: Las Vegas, NV

Off the strip in Vegas’s Chinatown, Hobak is the first U.S. outpost of a popular Seoul restaurant, and they do Korean BBQ right. From the addictive soft tofu stew to the endless banchan to the heritage pork and aged beef that staff cook tableside, the authentic flavors and high quality ingredients shine through. There are even toothbrushes and mouthwash in the restrooms so guests can freshen up after dinner.

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Jeju Noodle Bar
> Location: New York, NY

Ramyun (a ramen relative) in rich pork bone broth is the specialty at this cozy West Village noodle shop, but the menu features much more than noodles. Try the squid with seaweed butter, gochujang aïoli and almonds, or a customer favorite – toro (fatty tuna) ssam bap with scrambled egg and osetra caviar.

 

Jin Ju
> Location: Chicago, IL

This contemporary restaurant serves traditional fare with flair, alongside creative cocktails and some popular Korean dishes that you might not find in other restaurants. Try the domi, a battered whitefish filet in a spicy mustard sauce with eggplant and mushroom, and be sure to order some fried wings and mandu (dumplings).

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Jinmi
> Location: Anchorage, AK

A classic, casual Korean restaurant with knowledgeable staff, great prices, and tasty banchan, Jinmi offers lunch specials, small plates for sharing, delectable stews, and tender meats including kalbi (marinated beef short ribs), spicy squid, braised black cod, and of course spicy pork and bulgogi.

Joule
> Location: Seattle, WA

This Korean fusion steakhouse offers the familiar flavors of kimchi, gochujang, and scallions in an eclectic array of meat and vegetarian dishes. The kalbi burger is a crowd pleaser, and the beef tartare salad with Asian pear, pine nut, and seaweed is a must-have. Customers also rave about the bone marrow with spicy anchovy butter, and the smoked tofu with mushroom confit and soy truffle vinaigrette.

Jungsik
> Location: New York, NY

This innovative, high-end destination – with two Michelin stars – has all the trappings of greatness: an elegant space, a well-oiled service team, and a tasting menu that takes the guesswork out of a pristine dining experience. At Jungsik, French technique is heightened by an East Asian palate, and the results are unbeatable.

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KPub Grill and Beer Taproom
> Location: Portland, OR

A no-frills bar with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, KPub Grill has tons of beers and ciders on tap, and serves sizzling plates overflowing with favorites like bulgogi, fried shrimp, and glazed fried chicken with rice cakes. Patrons love the kimchi pancakes and the low prices.

Manna Korean BBQ and Dosirak
> Location: Washington, D.C.

An unassuming lunch and dinner spot, Manna Korean BBQ and Dosirak offers huge portions of comforting homestyle meals at unbeatable prices. The dosirak (similar to bento boxes) include a protein of your choice as well as rice, mandu, kimchi, and vegetables. Customers love the japchae (glass noodles with vegetables), kimchi fried rice, and smoky soondubu (spicy tofu stew).

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Meet Korean BBQ
> Location: Seattle, WA

This traditional Korean BBQ restaurant features high quality meats, cooked tableside by expert staff, and a huge array of seasonal ferments. Many customers opt for the signature feast (feeds four), which features four proteins of the chef’s choice, pork belly fried rice, and mind-boggling banchan varieties. Guests love the egg soufflé, corn cheese, and wagyu beef.

Mo Ran Gak
> Location: Garden Grove, CA

This informal Korean BBQ joint in Garden Grove’s Koreatown has a cult following. The extensive menu features numerous authentic dishes like North Korean-style cold buckwheat noodles and nokdu jeon (mung bean pancakes). Cook your own meat or a staff member will gladly cook for you.

O’Kims
> Location: Honolulu, HI

This cozy nook may have limited seating, but the truffle mandu and confit pork belly keep people coming back for more. The creative monthly specials fuse global flavors and include dishes like abalone and cornish hen jook (rice porridge) and unagi donburi, a sea eel and clam dish with chives, broccoli, and sizzling rice.

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Oiji Mi
> Location: New York, NY

Reinterpreting Korean flavors to produce a modern dining experience, this restaurant from chef Brian Kim (co-owner of the celebrated East Village restaurant Oiji, which recently closed) offers a delightful ambiance and an adventurous five-course prix-fixe menu with highlights like chilled lobster ramyun, scallops with green apple pearls, and black bass with truffle seafood broth.

Parachute
> Location: Chicago, IL

With a constantly rotating menu of creative dishes based on Korean stand-bys, Parachute has earned multiple James Beard awards and a Michelin star. Local ingredients, modern techniques, and a unique drink menu elevate the experience, and their baked potato bing bread stuffed with bacon and chives is a customer favorite.

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Quarters Korean BBQ
> Location: Los Angeles, CA

This popular spot may have long lines for dinner, but the huge portions of perfectly seasoned grilled meats are worth the wait. The menu offers combos that feed a few people, as well as quarter- and one-pound portions of a dozen different types of beef, pork, chicken, and seafood, so be sure to try a wide variety. The pork jowl is a popular cut – especially with a side of cheese fondue to dip it in.

San Ho Won
> Location: San Francisco, CA

A new addition to the Mission District, San Ho Won uses lychee wood charcoal to grill their meats, and the sweet char-grilled flavor definitely stands out. The short ribs are cut thick, the savory egg soufflé with anchovy broth is impossibly creamy, and the seasonal vegetable bibimbap with preserved squid and pollock roe mayo is a must-have.

Seoul K-BBQ and Hot Pot
> Location: Aurora, CO

This classic cook-your-own BBQ spot has an extensive menu that includes not only BBQ but cold noodles, house special rice and stir-fry dishes, stews, sushi, and an enormous all-you-can-eat hot pot selection with eight different broths and delectable sauces. No one will leave here hungry.

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Soowon Galbi
> Location: Los Angeles, CA

Beef is the specialty at this no-frills L.A. BBQ outpost, which is named after a South Korean province known for its quality cattle. The banchan spread is something special and the service team is warm and knowledgeable. House favorites include a to-die-for cilantro kimchi and a sweet and savory 48-hour marinated galbi.

Ssal
> Location: San Francisco, CA

This trendy fusion spot offers modern fare with Korean-inspired flavors. The tasting menu features anywhere from eight to 12 courses, with plenty of meticulously crafted seafood dishes and accents like lime-pickled anchovies. Ssal is currently reservation only, so be sure to secure a spot before showing up.

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Wooga (Taste 1080)
> Location: Fort Lee, NJ

From friendly service to the freshest banchan to premium quality beef, Wooga, also known as Taste 1080, provides a consistently top-notch dining experience. Go with a crowd and order the large combo, which comes with prime coulotte, short ribs, hanger steak, rib fingers, and pork shoulder, belly, and jowls; in addition, don’t miss the egg custard and the stir-fried octopus with noodles.

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