Chef Brandon Kida grew up in Koreatown, an L.A. kid born to Japanese parents in one of the country's most diverse neighborhoods. Since then, his travels have taken him all over the globe, and his work has taken him to many of the best kitchens in New York City.
Since returning to L.A. to take over as executive chef at Hinoki & the Bird, Kida has channeled those experiences into the restaurant's menu, which blends Asian flavors with California's seasonal produce. And he's rekindled his love for his childhood neighborhood.
With that in mind, we asked him to compile a list of places that have stood the test of time, or that he's excited to see added to the mix. Here are eight places in and around Koreatown that Kida thinks you should check out.
8. Noshi Sushi
“Super old-school Los Angeles sushi joint. I love nostalgic restaurants. Don’t expect life-changing sushi but do expect a blast from the past! I always order the albacore sushi — they keep it simple and serve with ponzu.” 4430 Beverly Blvd., Koreatown. (323) 469-3458, noshisushila.com.
7. Pipers Restaurant
“I’ve been going to Pipers since I was born. I remember looking forward to getting a toy out of the 'treasure chest' if I finished my meal. They have since changed ownership and renovated, but the Pipers porridge still exists. Crush up some Saltine crackers. Enjoy.” 222 N. Western Ave., Koreatown. (323) 465-7701.
6. Beverly Soon Tofu
“The original was on Beverly Boulevard near the block I grew up on. They have since moved locations to Olympic Boulevard. The seafood and tofu hot pot is the bomb — definitely add your rice and raw egg to put the dish over the top.” 2717 W. Olympic Blvd., #108, Koreatown. (213) 380-1113, beverlysoontofu.com.
5. Mariscos Michoacan
“Seafood cocktail: The combination of masa and seafood is nothing new but the balance that is displayed at MM shouldn’t be overlooked as a fluke. The place is legit.” Vermont Avenue at Fifth Street, Koreatown (truck).
4. HMS Bounty
“It’s a bar, they serve food, the food is good. Just sit down, grab a drink, order some food, play a little Keno and you'll find yourself really enjoying your experience. And isn’t that what it’s all about? To be honest, I don’t remember anything I've ever eaten there.” 3357 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown. (213) 385-7275, thehmsbounty.com.
3. El Cholo (Western Avenue location)
“I'm not sure if this is technically in Koreatown, but I love the place. Chicken enchiladas all the way.” 1121 S. Western Ave., Harvard Heights. (323) 734-2773, elcholo.com.
2. Sanamluang (Thai Town)
“A little ghetto but the place is solid. Everything is good, but the one dish that I always get is the tom yum. Bomb.” 5176 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood. (323) 660-8006, sanamluangcafe.menutoeat.com.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am that my old neighborhood is a place to be. Yes, I know not in Koreatown, but Kali is a two-minute walk from where I attended elementary school (Page School) and a five-minute drive from K-town. It's been well documented how solid the food is — just go! And put your faith in the chef’s hands: Order the tasting menu and wine pairing.” 5722 Melrose Ave., Hollywood. (323) 871-4160, kalirestaurant.com.