Korean Food USA is a new series that showcases Korean and Korean-inspired eateries all around the nation.
With a Korean mayor running for Congress and its first ever Korean Cultural Festival this Saturday (1/14), Irvine, CA is quickly growing into a cultural hub for young Korean Americans in Orange County. More and more Korean Americans are moving into this residential haven for its great schools and safe streets, and in turn, Korean food has become a popular choice of dining for Koreans and non-Koreans alike.
Emerging from the rest of the competition is Kaya Restaurant. With a “mom and pop shop” atmosphere, Kaya brings back memories of home-cooked meals. The décor has a 1950s Korea feel to it with wooden dividers and Korean script paneling. Its service is friendly and borderline motherly; waitresses often come around with advice of which banchan is especially good for the day.
Some might trivialize the role of banchan in a Korean meal, but Kaya shows that having great banchan can be reason enough to come back for an encore. Kaya has amazing banchan like gamja jorim (braised potatoes), pajeon (fried pancake with green onions), and oi muchim (cucumber kimchi). The waitresses are more than happy to refill your banchan so feel free to ask for more!
Kaya’s menu has a wide range of Korean dishes, but where Kaya shines the most is in its soontofu. Its soontofu is much thicker with more robust flavors, which contrasts well with its silky smooth tofu. The dumpings in Kaya’s mandu soontofu are homemade and helps even out the spiciness of the stew. Other customer favorites include yukgaejang (spicy beef soup) and yukheo dolsot bibimbap (bibimbap with sliced raw beef in a hot stone pot).
Conveniently located right off of the 5 freeway, Kaya is a great option for those living in Orange County who are craving authentic Korean food but don’t want to make the trip up to L.A.
14120 Culver Dr. Ste. G
Irvine, CA 92604