Only 81% of Korean Restaurants Received A Grade

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Restaurants in Los Angeles Koreatown have been graded relatively lower than most of the other non-Korean restaurants across the neighborhood.

The L.A. County Public Health Department announced in its recent report compiling grades from January to June of this year. The report revealed that only 81 percent of Korean restaurants located in areas represented by six zip codes across Koreatown received an A grade from restaurant inspection, falling in contrast to the area’s average of 92 percent overall.

In those areas, 417 of the 2,039 restaurants are Korean. The Korean restaurants from that list were distinguished through social media and the Korea Daily’s business phonebook.

Put simply, 1,498 of 1,622 non-Korean restaurants received an A grade, while just 340 of 417 Korean restaurants earned the highest possible grade. The average score among Korean restaurants was approximately 89.09, which is a B grade. The fact that 81 percent of the Korean restaurants received an A grade but the overall average still fell short of 90 means that even the ones that earned the higher score barely managed to surpass the 90-mark.

The 90006 zip code had the highest rate of A-grade Korean restaurants at 95 percent, while 90020 had the lowest rate at 75 percent. In terms of average scores, restaurants in the 90019 zip code scored that highest at 91.42, but the ones in 90020 scored the lowest at just 84.86.

For non-Korean restaurants, the 90010 zip code averaged 95 percent, while the figure was at 86 percent in the area represented by the 90019 code.

The L.A. County Public Health Department hands out three grades—A (90 or higher), B (80 or higher) and C (70 or higher). Restaurants with an A grade are only due for inspection once a year, while B and C require inspections once every four to six months. A score of 69 or lower warrants to penalty. If the low score accumulates, the business could be suspended from one week to two months.

Critics explained that the root cause of the Korean restaurants’ lower scores is the owners’ inability to communicate freely in English and therefore not understanding the county regulations. Food maintenance and unsanitary cooking methods were also selected as two of the main reasons as well.

※Zip code: 90004(East/West -West 3rd~Melrose Avenue, South/North-Highland Avenue~North Hoover Street)
90005(East/West –West 6th~James M Wood Boulevard, South/North-Highland Avenue~Hoover Street)
90006(East/West –West Washington Boulevard~James M Wood Boulevard, South/North-South Manhattan Place~South Union Avenue)
90010(East/West-West 6th~West 8th, South/North-South Highland Avenue~Hoover Street)
90019(East/West-West Olympic Boulevard ~West Washington Boulevard, South/North-South Hayworth Avenue~South Western Avenue)

By Hyunwook Chung