Don’t Be Fooled By the Name… It’s a Wrap is a Downtown Korean Food Gem
Ask anybody who works Downtown where to get the best Korean food in the area and they’ll likely tell you to put your lazy ass into a car and drive to K-Town. On a good day, it’s less than 10 minutes away. But not everybody has the luxury of time (or a car, for that matter), so for those people I’d say- Have you been to It’s a Wrap? That’s right. You wouldn’t necessarily know it by the name or the outside signage, but It’s a Wrap (on 7th btw. Flower & Fig) serves cheap, decent Korean food, in Downtown L.A.
I first heard about this place thanks to Profiled Lunch’er “Shauna” (aka The Minty) who recommended their spicy tofu soup. Soondubu from a place called It’s a Wrap?! I was instantly excited. Korean food hidden inside generic sounding delis is completely normal in Midtown Manhattan, so hearing about this place triggered an immediate (and all too familiar) craving.
It’s a Wrap is technically not a hidden gem. Located in a pretty popular area, with a ton of foot traffic, it’s a go-to lunch for plenty of people in the area around 7th & Fig. But just as many people have probably walked or driven by the place and completely ignored it, not realizing that just inside is a little slice of Koreatown (surrounded by pretty generic sounding salads, sandwiches, and wraps.)
But the “Asian Specialties” menu is where most people are ordering from. There’s bulgogi ($7.95), kalbi ($8.95) and spicy chicken ($6.95) all served with rice and your choice of two rotating side dishes, like kimchi, bean sprouts, potato salad and chicken pasta. There is also a few “Japanese” items, like teriyaki chicken ($6.95), chicken curry rice ($6.95), and an unagi (eel) bowl for $8.95. Spicy pork bulgogi and the spicy tofu soup that Shauna recommended are also available, but neither are on the printed menu above the counter.
I went big, going for the kalbi with rice, kimchi and bean sprouts. $9 is a bit expensive for lunchtime Korean food (especially compared to place like, say, Mapo in Koreatown), but for Kalbi it’s not terrible. And for Downtown it’s kind of a steal. Obviously with Korean BBQ you get what you pay for, but the marinade is tasty and they get a good char on the meat. (Think of it as a slightly better version of Ono or L&L.) The “asian slaw” is pretty much just a mayo-less coleslaw, but the kimchi was pretty good. Once again, not the best banchan of all time- but if you work in Downtown and you’re looking for a bit of Korean food for lunch, it’s completely satisfying.
We also tried the spicy chicken, which I’m guessing is just the same chicken they use for everything (teriykai, etc.) but covered with a spicy red sauce (their version of the gochujang based sauce that goes on bibimbap.) The chicken was, amazingly, not dry and the sauce packed a really good punch. It was kind of awesome, and for $7 it’s kind of a ton of food. (Also of note- the bean sprouts were great. I think kimchi and bean sprouts might be the perfect side dishes order.)
It’s a Wrap also has a board for daily specials, and the day we were there they were selling Korean tacos ($5.50 for 3). How could we not? Chopped up kalbi, spicy pork and bulgogi, served on standard corn tortillas and topped with onion and cilantro. Kogi these are not, but for $5.50 they were a decent deal and loads of fun. (Although you do miss out on getting the side dishes, and if you’re a big eater you might be still be hungry.) I especially liked the bulgogi, which I think I’ll get as a platter next time I go.
And did I mention that the Family Guy is playing non stop on a giant TV against the wall?! Of course this place isn’t for everyone. Go in expecting the best Korean food of all time, and you are going to be hugely disappointed. And if you need to get into your car to get there, I would just go the extra 5-10 minutes towards K’town. But if you work in walking distance from It’s a Wrap, and you love Korean food, you’ll be just as excited to discover this place as I was. And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll actually try one of the wraps…
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Cheap Korean food in Downtown L.A.! That’s exciting…
- The kimchi and the bean sprouts are the best side dishes, if you like banchan
- And if you don’t, there’s potato salad and coleslaw
- It’s nice that they do daily specials
- They have Family Guy on a constant loop on the TV!
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
Sub par Korean food, only 5-10 minutes away from Koreatown? No thanks!
It’s a Wrap, 818 West 7th Street, 213-553-9395