Philly is well-known for its bustling Center City, the heart of Philadelphia, which hosts a myriad of attractions, such as the PMA, the Reading Terminal Market, and Philly Chinatown. But a short drive away from Center City, you’ll find the neighborhood of Olney, home to Philly’s Koreatown.
In Koreatown Philadelphia, you’ll enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere (and more parking), but the food quality will be just as good (if not better).
Get ready to eat your way through Philadelphia’s Koreatown because we have six must-do activities for your visit to Koreatown in Philly!
1. Take a Walk on North 5th Street
Since Koreatown is a 20-minute drive north of Center City, the traffic is more agreeable. While North Philly isn’t as walkable as Center City, there is a street you have to take a walk down while you’re here.
North 5th St was officially named Koreatown in the 1980s, and you’ll see signage in Hangul (the official language of Korea) throughout the neighborhood.
Most of what you’ll want to see is between W Somerville Ave and W Spencer Ave, but if you go all the way down to where N 5th St ends at Cheltenham Ave, you’ll discover a small shopping center that houses some absolute hidden gems of Philly Koreatown, including Yong Hwa Roo and Café Soho (more on these later!).
2. Visit Sister Businesses Dubu & Duba for Food, Drinks & Karaoke
Dubu is my all-time favorite place to enjoy sundubu jjigae in Philadelphia’s Koreatown. This soup restaurant is beloved by locals and visitors alike because it offers outstanding service and high-quality dishes.
Their tofu is homemade, and local news often features Dubu as a great place to eat in Philly, justifiably.
After enjoying a hot, fresh bowl of spicy tofu soup at this gem in Elkin’s park, you can head directly to Duba—the connected karaoke bar!
Unlike the public karaoke you’ll find in Chinatown, Koreatown offers private karaoke rooms in the style of noraebang. There’s no need to worry about the quality of your drunken singing voice when you’re in good company. It’s the perfect time to get loud, have fun, and unwind after an adventurous day.
3. Shop ‘til You Drop at the Korean Supermarket/Indoor Mall/Food Court
You read that right: the supermarket slash indoor mall slash food court. The H Mart on North Front Street is a vision of heaven.
We all know it’s a mistake to go shopping hungry, and luckily, the developers of this supermarket wanted to solve our problems. The H Mart in Philly features a full food court with various vendors selling generous portions of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese dishes, from classic bulgogi and bibimbap to dumplings and scallion pancakes.
After a quick and affordable meal, don’t forget to explore the underground mall for trinkets and souvenirs—and steamed buns.
4. Eat Your Heart Out Family Style
There are plenty of places for you to eat in Koreatown in Philadelphia. However, I highly recommend Yong Hwa Roo for authentic food and service, with large portions intended to be shared with the whole table.
There’s nothing better than a dinner with friends, laughing and sharing a meal. And when drinks are involved, it’s even better!
5. Enjoy a Unique BBQ Experience at KBBQ
While there are plenty of great Korean restaurants, there is no substitute for a KBBQ experience. Your server will bring a selection of fresh raw meats to you, where a hot grill embedded into your table awaits. Then you’ll watch (and smell) as your meal cooks in front of you!
Between the sizzling, don’t forget to use the provided scissors to cut your meat into bite-sized portions.
6. Try Korean Fried Chicken
Finally, you need to have Korean fried chicken while in Koreatown, Philadelphia. Korean-style chicken wings are double deep-fried, giving them a taste and texture like no other.
These mouth-watering wings are the manifestation of satisfaction. Before you leave Philly’s Koreatown, be sure to get your fill at Café Soho.
What are some cool things I can do in Koreatown?
Here are a few ideas:
- Do some screen golf
- Get your nails done
- Go to a sauna
- Eat some Korean food
- Get your hair done at a Korean salon
- Sing noraebang
- Play drinking games
- Brush up on your hallyu history
- Watch a Korean movie or TV show
- Listen to Korean music
- Get involved in a Korean American Association
- Visit an art museum