February 19, 2005

The Koreatown Plaza

Need the latest designs in luxury eyewear? Need to get the latest outfits from European luxury brands? Feel like spending $5000 for a croc handbag? Perhaps you need a new Rolex? Or is your pleasure more down to earth and definitely less expensive, such as eating Korean food or shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables? Then Koreatown Plaza might be just the place for you. It's a one-stop mall of a sort for anyone with a big appetite and a big budget if you really intend to shop there for anything other than food.

Of course its concept as a mall is the same as elsewhere -- bunch of shops gathered under one roof -- but its clientele is almost all Korean American and, most notably, the food court is actually very good here. Some of my non-Korean acquaintances have heard of the place, they say, but with a few exceptions, they won't adventure into the ghetto. The more savy ones go there to shop for luxury items, such as sunglasses or bags, because they can usually get them cheaper than at Nordstroms. And for the truly adventurous, there's always that possibility of bargaining. On occasion, I've seen Persian women giving the business owners a very hard time to get a few more dollars off their purchase. It's a special skill. I don't happen to possess it and I'm not that fond of folks who are good at it.

The Plaza is three stories high with stores ranging from one hawking Tupperware to MaxMara or Cartier luxury goods. Years ago, when some of my Korean friends from the East or Midwest came out to LA and witnessed this place, they were stunned that the KA community could gather enough money to build and sustain such a place. It is certainly a testament to the possibility of commercial success that lies at the heart of "American Dream" that's pushed down all immigrants' throats. It's a little sad, however, that KA community has yet to put down any political weight in this town in the successful way that it finds its way to its material wealth. Like I always say, capitalism triumphs over democracy and probably always will.

M and I usually go to the Plaza when we just need a meeting place where we don't have to worry about parking. Ever. Besides, if I'm waiting for someone, there's plenty to do so it's a convenient place. In any case, we went there today so M can get his haircut. He would probably go to the cheapest barber he could find but that hasn't happened. Besides, if he goes to a non-Korean hairdresser, they are mesmerized by his "exotic" Asian male hair that they just say the dumbest, inappropriate and sometimes offensive things. And why would you want to sit through that? Literally? As for me, I go to a different hairdresser, also in Koreatown, who knows that my hair is slighly wavy. Everytime I've gone to a non-Korean hairdresser, she can't seem to get over my "straight" hair that the result is never appropriate for my hair. I have smooth texture but a slight wave in my hair and cut certain ways, my hair might look lopsided or just plain out of control. Back to M. People are prone to say things such as, "It's hard to cut your kind of hair."

OK, back to the food court. Unlike other food courts, this food court has real food. You can get Vietnamese pho, sushi, dumplings, tofu casseroles and many other Korean dishes. All meals cost around $6-7 which I think is a bargain considering what you have to pay for a corn dog these days. Its large seating area has plenty of seats so you never have to worry about having to eat standing up. Because we were thirsty, we started with a boba drink. We had a passionfruit smoothie with boba: see the little black balls at the bottom of the drink? When I was first introduced to it, it took me a while to warm up to the tapioca balls in fruity drinks but now I am a fan. Suddenly Always I want more!

Then we had our late lunch. M had Donkatsu (Deep fried pork cutlets) and I had Kalgooksoo(cut noodles in chicken soup). It was enough to fill us up for the rest of the day. Before we left, we got some stuff at the grocery store on the first floor, another difference from another mall. The Plaza Market has the reputation of having the best quality around town for fruits and vegetables. It's getting big competition from the Galleria which is just few blocks away, though. One of my father's high school friends used to be the general manager of the Plaza Market and he used to say how business had slowed when the Galleria opened up. Anyway, I like the Plaza Market because I'm more used to it. Asian pear we got there was incredibly juicy and sweet.

Koreatown Plaza is on 9th and Western.


hermz said...

I love that food court! And the music store is fun, because you can listen to K-pop. Boy bands crack me up.

Anonymous said...