If there is one thing, we are sure of, it’s almost each and every one of us ended up with watery mouths and grumbling stomachs after watching a K-drama. The tteokbokki dripping with savoury sauce, warm fish cakes, and kimchi fried rice, South Korean dishes emanate a siren call, compelling one to try them. So, if the K-dramas have compelled you enough to tour South Korea this vacay season, how about we tell you about the best South Korean dishes that you can try? Let’s start our food tour, shall we?
List of Must-Try South Korean Dishes
Must Try South Korean Dishes
Given below is a list of of 10 best South Korean dishes that you need to try.
1. Korean BBQ – Decadent Fun
Korean BBQ or as the locals call it Gogigui is something that we have seen on our screens countless times while watching K-dramas. It is a very popular and must-eat cuisine among top South Korean dishes. There is something primal about cooking meat at your table, wrapping it in lettuce, and stuffing the whole thing in your mouth.
You can get different kinds of meats, either marinated or unmarinated. Some of the most favorite, popular picks are bulgogi, thin marinated slices of pork or beef, and galbi, marinated pork or beef ribs. You also get a lot of banchan (side dishes) with your meal. Korean BBQ is the kind of food that you can enjoy on the cold nights of winter. The flavor of the meat and the warmth from the grill will fill you with unmeasurable bliss and comfort.
Where to Eat Korean BBQ?
Mapo Jeong Daepo
For the ultimate Korean BBQ night out, visit Jeong Daepo in the Mapo neighborhood, near Gongdeok station. Upon entering the street you will be engulfed in the decedent aroma of BBQ and won’t be able to stop yourself from ordering a hearty portion.
Saebyukjib translates to “house of dawn” which is a fitting name for this restaurant as it is open 24 hours a day. Dawn, dusk, midnight, you can come by any time to satisfy your cravings for this scrumptious South Korean dish. If you wish to visit this aromatic restaurant, it is located at 6 Dosan-daero 101-gil, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
2. Chicken and Beer – The Ultimate Fusion
Chicken and beer are a favourite food of almost every Korean and is a popular midnight meal among the top South Korean dishes. In South Korea, this combo is regarded as Chimaek, a term that was coined during the 2002 Korean-Japan World Cup. This popular anju dish garnered fame around the mid to late 20th century and became one of the most popular South Korean food.
Around that time a new draft beer was also gaining much fame, therefore it became a common practice to combine the two. Korean fried chicken and beer are also getting popular in other parts of the world. The reason for it is the way the chicken is fried. To make it crunchier and less greasy, the chicken is double-fried, resulting in a satisfying golden and crispy chicken.
Where to Eat Chimaek?
BHC Chicken is a must-try chicken joint that has over 1,000 stores spread across Korea. The chicken joint is immensely famous among Korean mukbang vloggers and Korean celebrities. The resultant also gained much popularity after famous actress Jun Ji Hyun modeled for the franchise. BHC serves the crunchiest chicken, flavored with unique spices and ingredients. The restaurant is located at 21 Myeongdong 7-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul. Visit it and let us know what you think about the place.
For all of those health-conscious peeps out there, this restaurant is for you. Oppa Dak is an award-winning restaurant and is known for its healthy South Korean food, especially its oven-baked chicken that is chewy on the inside and crunchily crispy on the outside. Located at 6, Hakdong-ro 11-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea, Oppa Dak remains open till late, so if you have some late-night fried chicken cravings you need to satiate, you know where you can go.
3. Kimchi Jjigae – Warm, Hearty, and Of Course Spicy
Kimchi Jjigae or kimchi stew is the most beloved among the South Korean dishes. Like for most of us mac and cheese is the comfort food, for Koreans it’s this stew. And it definitely invokes deep feelings of comfort. This stew which sits on the pantheon of street food, is a hearty meal that will surely warm you up on a chilly Seoul night. The trick to making it taster is that you chock it full of tofu and meat.
Where to Eat Kimchi Jjigae?
Gwanghwamun House which is located in Jongro-gu has been in business for the last 30 years and is a representative Kimchi Jjigae restaurant. The appearance of the place is a bit shabby but trust us when we say that the Kimchi Jjigae of the place is truly awesome.
Located in Mapo-gu, Guldari Restaurant is among the top kimchi stew restaurants in Seoul and has been in business for almost 40 years. The restaurant’s stew is decadently aromatic and has a strong taste. As it is made every morning, you are served the stew right as you order it and if you want to eat more, they will give you some for free.
4. Bibimbap – A Burst of Flavors
If you are a K-drama lover, there is a 99.9% chance that you have witnessed a scene where actors are stuffing their mouths with deviously savory-looking rice. This rice dish that is shown in almost every Korean show is called Bibimbap and is the heartiest and the most comforting food among South Korean dishes. Bibimbap is made with warm white rice topped with gochujang, soy sauce, doenjang, and a variety of seasoned and sautéed veggies like radish, spinach, mushroom, cucumber, and soybean sprouts. Some even add a fried add or sliced meat to give it more flavor. The contents are then mixed together before eating.
Where to Eat Bibimbap?
Namsan Mokmyeok Sanbang
If it is variety that you covet then you better visit Namsan Mokmyeok Sanbang in 71 Toegye-ro 20-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul. There you will find a variety of rice bowls and ingredients that you can choose from. Instead of artfully placing the ingredients on top of the rice, the restaurant gives you them on a separate plate, which allows you to add the amount of ingredients as you please.
Jeonju Yuhalmeoni Bibimbap
Jeonju Yuhalmeoni Bibimbap has been in business for about 50 years and bibimbap is a language it speaks very well. The restaurant offers Jeonju-tyle bibimbap in which the rice is topped with ten ingredients, seasoned spinach, soybean sprouts, musae ngcae (white radish in sweet vinegar), seasoned doraji (balloon flower), stir-fried beef, julienned fried egg white and yolk, stir fried radish, boiled, and seasoned parsley, and boiled and seasoned Korean leeks. The dish is served in a stainless-steel bowl, and you can get it during lunchtime.
5. Tteokbokki – Cylindrical Delicacy
The most famous snack among the top South Korean dishes is tteokbokki that keeps us up at night. It would have been a disgrace if this dish wasn’t mentioned in our best South Korean dishes article. Tteokbokki are Korean rice cakes that can be found anywhere in Korea be it restaurants, food stalls, subway stations, or markets. This dish is made from soft cylindrical rice cakes that are mixed with fish caked and drizzled with either a spicy gochujang sauce or a non-spicy jajang sauce. You can either eat it on its own or pair it with fried chicken or jjukumi.
Where to Eat Tteokbokki?
Hongdae Jopok Tteokbokki
This Tteokbokki restaurant which has been in business for over 20 years is very famous among locals and foreigners for its delicious delicacies. Jopok translated to a gangster in English and there is a rumor that the original owner of this place was a gangster. The restaurant has a very simple menu and its Tteokbokki is mouthwatering. The restaurant also serves fish cakes and sundae with the Tteokbokki, so you can eat them together if you wish.
Nanumi Tteokbokki is another famous rice cake restaurant located near Sungkyunkwan University. The restaurant opened its doors in the year 1989 and has been a very popular Tteokbokki and hang-out spot since then. The place is open 24 hours and serves the most well-balanced Tteokbokki that carries a satisfying sweet and spicy taste.
6. Jajangmyeon – Sauce that Sparks Joy
Another popular and the most decadent among the South Korean dishes that we urge you to try on your visit to South Korea is Jajangmyeon. It is a noodle dish that is made with thick, handmade, or machine-pulled wheat noodles and topped with a thick sweet bean sauce, diced meat, soy sauce, and other vegetables. The dish actually dates back to the early 20th century.
A Chinese restaurant in Incheon Chinatown invented the dish and now that restaurant has been converted into a Jajangmyeon museum. An interesting unofficial holiday that is associated with Jajangmyeon called Black Day is celebrated each year on April 14 by singles. Individuals who don’t receive gifts on Valentine’s Day drown their sorrows with a bowl of Jajangmyeon on Black Day.
Where to Eat Jajangmyeon?
Sinseonggak is the place for you if you like vegetables in your Jajangmyeon. Operational since 1981, the restaurant makes a Jajangmyeon that is chock full of vegetables. Not only that, but the noodles are also very light and silky and go very well with the thick fresh sauce. Gaehwa
If you want authentic Korean Chinese food, then Gaehwa should be the top place on your list. The restaurant has been in business for over 50 years and is applauded for its delicious Jajangmyeon. Their jajang sauce carries a very deep soy flavor that not only makes it savory but also quite aromatic.
7. Bingsu – Sweet and Flavorful
Looking for something sweet after all that savory? Bingsu is a popular South Korean dessert. The dish comprises shaved ice that is topped with various ingredients. Having been around since the Joseon Dynasty, the dish is like a cool embrace on a warm sunny day. You can top the shaved ice with a variety of ingredients like chocolate, green tea, chopped fruit, red beans, and other sweets.
Where to Eat Bingsu?
Located near Sinsa Station Exit 8, Dangok is a unique shaved ice cream restaurant, with a master who is a master of his craft. He serves delicious Bingsu with a variety of delicious toppings. We urge you to give their signature Tarae Bingsu a try as it will surely knock your socks off.
Looking for a vegan-friendly shaved ice restaurant? Well, look no further as Pan Honesta has got you covered. Located in Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, the restaurant offers a perfect blend of sweet and healthy. They use oat milk ice, coconut sugar, and shaved ice sauce to create a decadent dessert that will make your taste buds sing with joy.
8. Mandu – Dumplings to Set Your Taste Buds Ablaze
If you are looking for famous bite size South Korean dishes then you better they mandu. Mandu are Korean dumplings that come in many shapes and sizes. You can get them boiled, steamed, deep-fried, or pan-fried. The savory dumplings are usually served with a side of soy-vinegar-chili dipping sauce and kimchi. This dish originally originated in the Korean royal court but is now widely available throughout South Korea. You can enjoy mandu at outdoor food stalls, supermarkets, tented food stalls, or restaurants.
Where to Eat Mandu?
Chang Hwa Dang
Chang Hwa Dang is a famous Korean restaurant that was also featured in the K-drama Hotel del Luna. The restaurant has more than 10 branches in Seoul such as Yeongdeungpo, Hannam, Yangjae, Yeonnam, Seocho, and Bongcheon. Chang Hwa Dang is a very charming place known widely for its mandu. You can get the mandu in flavors like fried truffle, fried galbi, fried shrimp, and kimchi mandu.
Myeongdong Kyoja is another popular mandu restaurant located in Seoul. It serves mandu that are not only filling but also have a strong flavor that kicks in the moment you take a bite. So, if you are a dumpling lover, do your taste buds a favor and check this place out.
9. Naengmyeon – A Cure for Heat
The most refreshing among the popular South Korean dishes is naengmyeon. Eating naengmyeon on a warm sunny day to refresh and replenish oneself is a must. Naengmyeon typically consists of long thin handmade buckwheat noodles, but they can be made from other ingredients like sweet potatoes, potatoes, kudzu, and arrowroot starch as well. Originally a North Korean dish, naengmyeon became popular throughout Korea after the Korean War. The dish is served in a large stainless steel bowl that is filled with a tangy iced broth, pickled radish, cucumbers, Korean pear, slices of cold-boiled beef, and a boiled egg.
Where to Eat Naengmyeon?
Located one subway stop away from Myeongdong Station, Pildong Myeonok is a popular naengmyeon restaurant. It serves Pyeongyang-style cols buckwheat noodles in a delightful mildly flavored broth.
Another famous naengmyeon restaurant in Seoul, Nampo Myeonok is located near City Hall. This naengmyeon restaurant is a traditional one, that makes its cold noodles like the olden days and also serves countless other popular dishes.
10. Fishcakes – Warm and Hearty
Another popular snack that had to be made a part of the top South Korean dishes list, as without it the list would not be complete is eomuk. Eomuk or fishcake is a South Korean food that was introduced during the time of Japanese occupation. Made with ground white fish, sugar, potato starch, and vegetables, you can find this Korean dish anywhere in the country. You can get the fishcakes either in skewered or cylindrical form. The skewered fishcakes also come with a warm broth, which makes it a staple dish for winter.
Where to Eat Fishcakes?
You can find the fishcakes at almost every corner of the city. They are served at stalls, restaurants, and drinking establishments. But the best-tasting ones are those that are served at outdoor stalls.
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