Third Street and Western: Live Octopus, New York Slices + A Patio Party Upstairs
In the land of strip malls, Koreatown in king. There are stacks upon stacks of tiny one-off eateries that dot the landscape around Western Avenue as it cruises towards Wilshire Blvd., an untold number that speaks to just how well K-towners must eat. More often than not, these are the sorts of places that eschew websites, only accept cash and rely on word of mouth or a strong set of eyes to discover. It's strip mall dining heaven in Koreatown, starting with the bustling corner strip spot along Western and 3rd Street known as Western Village.
Happy Family Chinese Restaurant:
Noam Bleiweiss Happy Family Chinese Restaurant
Opened in 2011, Happy Family Chinese operates on the lower level of Western Village in a surprisingly sizable space right beneath a staircase. You can find it if you're looking, but you might have to squint. Inside, the open dining room is a series of large tables with built-in burners and overhead hoods that don't seem to get much action. Apparently, they never got rid of the tables from the previous Korean BBQ shop. Instead, folks tend to stick to the Chinese basics, including the ever-present orange chicken and jjambbong, a spicy seafood noodle soup. Other options, like beef chow mein, can come off a touch bland, but the provided bottles of Sriracha at every table will certainly help in that regard. For the lunch crowd, a varied selection of specials top out around $8 and can be pretty filling, especially when tagged along with something from Happy Family Chinese's surprising beer selection. Happy Family Chinese opens daily at 11 a.m. and accepts all major credit cards. 301 S. Western Ave. #101, Koreatown; 213-389-1112.
King of New York Pizzeria:
Noam Bleiweiss Garlic Knots from King of New York Pizzeria
King of New York Pizzeria is usually just called KONY Pizza for short, despite the, uh, implications that might arise from such an acronym. Still, folks in Koreatown tend to flock to the small storefront for a New York slice, especially once the sun goes down. King of New York doesn't stay up late to feed the sloppy masses emerging from nearby karaoke -- they close at midnight on the weekend -- but their crusty, wide slices might be the quickest, cheapest option in the area for pre-game stomach saturation. The $3 slices are actually pretty tasty on their own, but be sure to identify the most recent pie to emerge from the oven. Time is of the essence with any pizza, and you might come across a few long-in-the-tooth slices sitting behind the glass, although the slightly oily garlic knots tend to always keep their bounce. Otherwise, traditional slices are heavy on the mozzarella and come pretty well saturated with a thin, sweet tomato sauce. Ordering up a fresh pie might help to keep the crust from stiffening up too much, but really, at prices like these, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more suitable on the go slice within a few mile's radius. KONY Pizza does a brisk delivery business and accepts credit cards. 301 S. Western Ave. #104, Koreatown; 213-252-0082.
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