Bold, fiery, meat-centric, fermented. These are just a few of Korean cuisine’s many descriptors, food that is a magnet for anybody in love with strident flavors and barbecue meat. Bulgogi is always a crowd-pleaser, marinated sirloin that is all garlic, sweet soy, and char. Although animal protein generally rules the Korean kitchen, vegetarians can always order bibimbap, a dish of mixed rice and vegetables that is as fun to say as it is to eat. Although there are not a lot of options for Korean food in New Orleans, thankfully there are a few.
Gogi Korean Restaurant
4620 Veterans Memorial Boulevard, Metairie
Corn cheese, kimbap, thuk poki (spicy rice cakes), and kimchi pajean (pancake) are a few of the traditional flavors at Gogi Korean Restaurant, a breezy casual spot on Veterans Boulevard. The spicy silky tofu stew is divine, same for the ramen with grilled kimchi and the seafood pancake with shrimp, clams, mussels, and squid. Bulgogi, short ribs, and spicy pork come out of the kitchen ready to eat.
NolaKorea Korean Restaurant
3120 Cleary Avenue Suite A, Metairie
Nolakorea is a no-frills strip mall restaurant that isn’t a table-top grilling joint. Instead, there are a slew of traditional dishes like dolsot bibimbap, a hot stone bowl of rice, beef, and vegetables with house chili sauce; jajang myeon, noodles in black bean sauce; and tasty banchan dishes, including cubes of deep-fried tofu, sour potatoes, spicy cucumbers, and kimchi. Great prices.
Gangnam Korean BBQ Restaurant
3012 N Arnoult Road, Metairie
You can eat your fill for lunch ($22.95) or dinner ($34.95) at Gangnam Korean BBQ, but there are a few rules. Two hours is the time limit, there are no to-go boxes, and they charge $9.99 a pound for wasted food. Fair enough. The array of banchan side dishes and proteins is impressive, from marinated chicken to pork belly, brisket, and bulgogi. Add an order of the twice-fried Korean chicken wings just because.
Little Korea BBQ
2240 Magazine Street,
This is the go-to Korean restaurant on Magazine, an expanded version of the original Little Korea that opened on Claiborne Avenue a decade ago. A fun outing with pals, half the tables have inset grills, and the aroma of sizzling meat gets the juices flowing. You’ll be given instructions but really, just have fun. Tiny bowls of banchan might include silky tofu, pickled vegetables, strips of dried fish, or even potato salad.
K-Town BBQ & Tofu
925 Behrman Highway #9, Terrytown
The first and only Korean restaurant on the West Bank, K-Town is a gem, situated next to Hong Kong Market. It’s owner David Park’s first spot in New Orleans — he’s run places in Florida and Los Angeles. Start with pan-seared dumplings, spicy ramen, and definitely the japjchae, a savory stir-fried sweet potato glass noodles with beef. All the ban chan is fresh daily, and there are vegetarian options like tofu-driven stews and marinated meat for the cult of bulgogi.
Chung’s Heavenly Sweets
607 Belle Terre Boulevard, Laplace
This Laplace eatery, owned by chef Chung Cutno, does indeed serve some of the best beignets west of Morning Call. But the Korean barbecue tacos or po-boys are also worth the trip. Same goes for the rice bowls, summer roll, beef and vegetable dumplings, kimbop and San array of homemade soups and sandwiches. Chung’s Heavenly Cafe was closed for 14 months after Ida, reopening in November 2023.