Yang Ban: Does Downtown Sport L.A.’s Best Korean Soup Spot?


When bragging that Los Angeles is one of the best food cities in the country, bringing up all of our ethnic enclaves is my go-to argument.  The Thai food in Thai Town, Chinese in the San Gabriel Valley, Mexican food in Boyle Heights, and Vietnamese and Japanese food in the South Bay are unrivaled in San Fran, Chicago, hell, even New York.  Sorry America.  L.A. has the best, most diverse, ethnic food neighborhoods in the country, possibly even the world.  But as great as each area of this city is for its own specialty, for those of us who live here there is something exciting about discovering something regional removed from its region.  Whether it’s ramen in the valley (hello Jinya!) or dim sum on the westside (still waiting!), we seem to be willing to sacrifice a bit of “authenticity” for a bit less driving.

So when Lunch’er Dylan recommended Yang Ban, a Korean soup place in the garment district of Downtown L.A., that tinge of excitement came up again.  Surely it wouldn’t be as good as the places in Koreatown, but even a decent Korean option for people who work in DTLA would be welcome- especially as the days start to get shorter and the air starts to get colder.

Don’t let the dilapidated exterior, or the industrial neighborhood, fool you into thinking this is some kind of dirty dive.  The inside is surprisingly welcoming for a Garment District lunch spot, warmed by bright lights and the glow of packed tables eating kimchi and rice between bites of delicious soup. At peak lunch times during the winter, you’ll probably have to wait.  And show up alone and they’ll likely ask you to share a table with somebody else.


The menu is short and simple, featuring 8 different soups to chose from, from hae jang gook, which has congealed cubes of pork blood, to yuk gae jang, the spicy soup with shredded beef. Most soups have been made with some different part of the ox (knees, tail, feet), with only one fish option, a soup made with dried pollack. Lunch’er Dylan is a big fan of their galbi tang (the short rib soup). But sul lung tang ($7.39) is their namesake dish, and seemed appropriate for a first visit.


A cloudy white broth made from boiling ox bones, sul lung tang is as simple as Korean soups get- some would argue tasteless- especially when the unseasoned soup first hits the table. And this is important for sul lung tang virgins. The soup comes out unseasoned. You’ll find a container of chunky sea salt on every table, which you should use liberally, and they bring you a giant bowl of fresh cut scallions for added flavor and pepper paste if you want to give it a kick. As somebody who really wants to know what the chef thinks their food should taste like, I’m not into seasoning my own food. But there is something really personal and satisfying about the ritual  of sitting in a sul lang tang parlor on a cold day and doctoring up your bowl of hot steaming soup, as if what you add says something about who you are.

The bowl costs $7.39 and comes with slices of beef, and noodles. But for an extra $1 you can get the suk eo sul lung tang, which adds liver and assorted other offal, including shockingly clean tasting tubular bits of pleasantly chewy intestine.  If you like well prepared offal, the splurge is well worth it.


Like any good Korean restaurant that specializes in sul lang tang, the banchan is sparse but excellent.  The standard kimchi had this great sweetness that made it super addictive, and the daikon’s tanginess made for a great contrast. The two kimchi, along with a small metal container of purple rice and barley, made for the perfect soup accompaniment.

I haven’t been to enough sul lung tang places to say this is the best in L.A., but I can’t really see how it could be made any better. Then again, sul lung tang is just as much as about time and place (aka it’s cold out and you’re sick or hungover) as it is about taste. But I still remember how unremarkable my first sul lung tang experience was, and how I was in no rush to try it again. Yang Ban I feel like going back to again and again, hungry for that glow. The fact that it’s Downtown?  An unimportant detail.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Love Korean soup, and I work Downtown!  So excited I don’t have to drive to K-Town for a great version.
  • Really solid versions of a number of different Korean soups
  • The kimchi is excellent
  • Love that purple rice!
  • Sul lung tang isn’t the only good thing on the menu.  Their other soups are great too.
  • Perfect place to go in the winter when you’re hungover or feeling sick.
  • The atmosphere is bright and welcoming (or maybe that’s the glow from the warm soup?)

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • $11 for galbi tang?  That’s a bit too expensive for my blood!
  • K-Town is closer to me than the Garment District… and there are plenty of good sul lung tang places there.

Yang Ban Sul Lung Tang, 716 E 9th Pl (off San Pedro), 213-489-4640


1 Comment

  • I’d love to see how this compares to Young Dong and Han Bat, the two staples in KTown. i think you definitely need to do a comparo of the two once the weather gets really cold and rainy. Nothing is better than suhl lung tang for cold weather.

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