Recession Obsession: No-Prep Korean Dinner

Here Squiddy, Squiddy...

The Official Recession has enveloped us for fifteen official months. It’s still no reason we can’t enjoy life. This is LA — we have a ton of inexpensive options! A Recession Obsession is somewhere fantastic, whether times are good or not, because it's that damn good. We last loved on Peruvian-style chicken and Leimert Park's Papa West. Today, we...

I once heard that Los Angeles has more Koreans than anywhere outside of Korea. I regurgitated that fact so many times that one might assume I donated years to such research. Not true. But I have been lost in K*town many times. It seems like a really big place, and there are clearly a great many Korean people. It's during these times when I marvel at all of the places to eat. (We’ve been before.)

Koreatown has some seriously wonderful culinary options. Price-wise, the grub ranges from the posh Korean barbecue joints (best left for expense accounts) to the low-cost markets devoid of tourists. At most of these markets, a couple can take home a feast for about $10. Good news. There’s no cooking required.


Taking up a full block of Western Ave is the California Market. There’s a bazaar in the parking lot, an adjacent taco truck (which makes a mean burrito,) and an outdoor Korean rice pancake stand (they’re $1 each, sweet as hell, and wonderful.) Let's go inside.

The Grub

Walk to the back of the store and you’ll find the pre-made, ready-to-go food items. I hope you like spicy food, because most of it is. A multitude of types, and sizes, of kim chi is this section's cornerstone. Discover something new, or go with a traditional favorite.

There is a lot of seafood too -- cooked mackerel, cooked cod, seasoned crab, and of course, squid. Throw in some mungbean pancakes and you’ve got a party. Well, maybe not a party, but good times.

Head home and enjoy your cheap, good Korean food with another. With the unemployment rate in Los Angeles now a staggering 20% (allegedly)
, you can’t afford the restaurant-version of this same grub.

Photos by Caleb Bacon for LAist

  • California Market | Koreatown | 450 S. Western Ave | Los Angeles 90020
  • * (213) 368-1410 | Open daily 7 a.m. ‘til 2 a.m.

Have you been to the California Market? Comment below!