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The New Ktown: Buena Park

It is no secret that Orange County is home to a significant number of Korean-Americans and/or Korean descents. Over the past decade, Buena Park has witnessed a remarkable surge in Korean-owned businesses; large plaza, markets and restaurants. This boom did not go unnoticed, and on September 26, 2023, the city council officially designated Buena Park as “Koreatown.” 

Koreatown is located on Beach Boulevard from Rosecrans Avenue to Orangethorpe Avenue. Even if you’re not from the area, you can easily guess you’re in Koreatown as you drive through. You’ll  be immediately greeted by multiple Korean language signs and, of course, two very large Korean plazas on Beach Boulevard that house Hannam Chain and H-Mart. 

Buena Park as Koreatown might not have happened if it wasn’t for the outpour of attention surrounding the new mall that opened in 2017: The Source OC. Initially rumored to have been owned by YG Entertainment, the anticipation among K-Pop fans was high for a possible “YG Land” at this location. Although the much-anticipated “YG Land” never came to fruition, The Source OC now hosts various Korean restaurants and entertainment options, making it a key highlight of the new Koreatown. 

But, did you know that Buena Park isn’t the first to be named Koreatown in Orange County? Before Buena Park, there was Garden Grove. Although some may disagree, the Korean-American population in Garden Grove was once high enough that the 2-mile stretch on Beach Boulevard was known as the “Korean Business District.” It was somewhat confusing when they named it Koreatown in 2019 because, by that time, there had been a significant decline in the Korean population in Garden Grove. 

What it means for Buena Park to be named Koreatown. Council Member Joyce Ahn stated, “ Koreatown is more than a name; it’s a recognition of a community that has significantly shaped the cultural and economic landscape of Buena Park. I am filled with pride as we  take this step forward in celebrating our City’s beautiful diversity.” The designation is not just a name; it represents cultural acceptance and acknowledges the contributions of Korean-Americans who have made Buena Park their home and continuously worked to enrich the community. 

Here is a suggestion of a day in Koreatown, Buena Park:

Where to eat: Daom Korean Restaurant

5921 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90621
714-739-0100

Discover the ultimate traditional Korean restaurant, where you’ll find all your favorite Korean eats! Grab a few friends and order the shareable dishes like Spicy Braised Short Ribs, Pork Stew with Potatoes, and sizzling stone pot Bibimbap. This family-owned and operated restaurant is the perfect start to exploring Koreatown, Buena Park. 

Open Monday – Sunday from 11AM to 9:30PM

Where to grab dessert: COCOHODO

5327 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90621

714-994-5965

Treat yourself to a popular Korean dessert; Korean Walnut Pastry. It’s filled with sweet red bean and walnut pieces. It’s a staple snack at rest stops in South Korea. Cocohodo not only serves these delicious pastries but has various other dessert options like shaved ice, ice cream and coffee and teas.

Open Monday – Saturday from 8AM to 8PM 

Closed Sunday

Where to watch Korean movies: CGV Cinemas 

6988 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90621 (Inside The Source OC)
www.cgvcinemas.com

Watch Korean movies with English subtitles at CGV Cinemas. State-of-the-art theater with modern designs and technology that elevates your movie going experience! Also you can’t forget to stop by the concession stand because CGV Cinemas have one of the best popcorn out there. 

Where to grab a drink: Zoomak

7309 Orangethorpe Ave STE A, Buena Park, CA 90621
714-351-0389

Zoomak is an older Korean term used to describe a place where travelers can stop for food, drinks and overnight accommodations. At Zoomak Buena Park, you can enjoy a wide variety of flavored sojus and bar food. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a drink with friends or alone! They won’t have overnight accommodations though…

Open Monday – Saturday from 6PM to 2AM 

Closed Sunday

Where to get Korean Fried Chicken: Pelicana Chicken

6930 Beach Blvd. Buena Park, CA 90621 (Inside The Source OC)
714-912-2790

A popular South Korean Korean Fried Chicken spot has made Buena Park its home inside The Source OC! Known for their crispy chicken, their most popular menu item is the Banban Chicken, which offers both their original fried chicken and honey soy chicken. You can order takeout and enjoy it in The Source OC’s open quad area, fully immersing yourself in the mall’s atmosphere. 

Open Monday – Sunday 11AM to 11PM

Friday – Saturday open until 12:30AM

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