Explore Lakewood’s International District

By Marguerite Cleveland on October 5, 2022

When you enter Lakewood's International District it's almost like stepping into another country. Hangul (the Korean alphabet) signs line the buildings and compete for your attention. Known locally as Koreatown, you'll find a variety of restaurants with authentic Korean food and shops with Korean made items.

Korean Barbecue is very popular with U.S. soldiers who were stationed in Korea. You'll find them noshing on strips of Bulgogi alongside Korean Americans. Everyone has their favorite place to dine on this cook-at-your-table treat. A popular choice is New Gangnam BBQ which offers an all-you-can-eat option with your choice of meats and served with rice and a variety of Banchan - side dishes that include Kimchi.

NEW GANGNAM BBQ, open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 9104 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253.581.1200, www.NewGangnam.com.

Shin Shin is an eclectic store that seems to carry just about everything. Popular Korean skincare items are reasonably priced. You'll find everything you need to prepare and serve a Korean meal. There are cleaning supplies, Ginseng, bedding and all sorts of odds and ends. There are a variety of children's toys including a set of the dolls in the likeness of the boy band BTS. While you stroll the aisles helpful sales clerks will follow you through the store recommending products or demonstrating how a product works.

SHIIN SHIN, open 10 a.m. to 7p.m., Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday, 8726 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.582.2975.

Pal  Do World is a Korean grocery store that has every Asian food product imaginable. There are tanks with fresh seafood and a kiosk which makes a fish-shaped filled pastry similar to an éclair. Outside the grocery store is a bakery and a food court. The food court offers Korean, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants. There is also House of Mandoo which only sells house-made Korean Steam Buns. Large tender morsels of dough are filled with either pork, spicy pork, or a bean curd. For the restaurants, order at the counter and your food is brought to you at your table.

PAL DO WORLD, open daily 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., 9701 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253.581.7800.

The Coffee Kitchen is a cute little coffee shop in the heart of the International District. Walking in you are enveloped in a farmhouse décor that almost seems out of place in Koreatown. The coffee is great with unique offerings such as the Sweet Potato Latte. Food offerings include waffles and sandwiches. They also offer a Korean dessert, Pat Bing Soo, which is shaved ice topped with sweet toppings such as chopped fruit, sweetened condensed milk and red beans. Unusual but tasty.

THE COFFEE KITCHEN, open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon to 9 p.m., Sunday; 9115 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253.588.4191.

For a unique cultural experience head to the Lakewood International District. Start your visit with shopping and then head to one of the many restaurants to experience authentically prepared Korean food.