I swear one of the main reasons I’ve spent as many years in Korea – as I have – has to do with wonderful Korean cuisine. From Korean stews to Korean street food and from Korean rice based dishes to Korean barbecue, I’m constantly at a loss to decide what to eat because there are just so many great options. The following is a guide to Korean cuisine in the form of restaurant recommendations. These are some of my favorite restaurants in Korea along with some of my favorite Korean dishes worth trying. Use this guide to help you decide both what and where to eat when you visit Korea on your next travel adventure:
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1) We’ll start off with something that actually isn’t traditional Korean food. Budae Jjigae (부대찌개) features spam and hotdog slices along with noodles and other various ingredients. This dish became popular after the Korean war when spam and tuna were abundant but other meat was not.
2) One dish Koreans will tell you eat if you’re feeling sick (especially if you’re having digestive issues) is a traditional type of Korean porridge known as Juk (죽). Made with glutinous rice it is typically sweet. My favorite, by far, is Korean Pumpkin porridge. You can find Korean porridge in specialty restaurants all over Korea.
3) Did you know Korea has a specific dish that is meant to cure a hangover? Haejangguk (해장국), a hearty beef rib stew, features a rich broth with glass noodles and various vegetables. Typically, restaurants specializing in this dish are open 24 hours, as business picks up after late night drinking sessions in the wee hours of the morning.
4) Visiting Korea and not trying Korean barbecue would be absolute failure. What makes Korean barbecue so fun is the social aspect where you grill your own meat at your own table. Come with friends and be sure to drink soju as well! Try Samgyeopsal (삼겹살) and Galbi (갈비).
5) Speaking of Korean meat, the one Korean dish that most foreigners instantly love is something called Bulgogi (불고기). Literally translated as ‘fire meat’ the marinated strips of beef and big hit with people visiting Korea for the first time.
6) Are you in the mood for a Korean feast that you’ll remember for a lifetime? Well, in that case, you’ll have to try Hanjeongsik (한정식). Typically centered around meat or fish, a Korean set meal consists of many side dishes that are brought to your table.
7) Pizza is a highly traditional Korean food. Just kidding. Regardless, pizza joints are very popular in Korea and differ from a typical western pizza. Toppings such as corn and sweet potato often find their way on top of Korean pizzas. Having pizza in Korea is the perfect excuse to drink Korean beer 🙂
8) I thought Canada and USA enjoyed fried chicken unlike anywhere else in the world. That was until I came to Korea. There are more fried-chicken restaurants, per capita, in Korea than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Ordering a jug of beer (맥주) with your glazed chicken bites is almost mandatory.
9) What to have on a colder winter morning? How about Seolleongtang (설렁탕)? This Korean ox bone soup with brisket is bland compared to other Korean soups and stews but it is still quite popular. I have to admit it is not my favorite.
10) Sushi is almost as popular in Korea as it is in Japan. The most common kinds of sushi restaurants in Korea are the ones where plates are placed on conveyer belts (회전초밥) and you just grab what you want on demand.
11) For Korean Lunar New Year (Seollal – 설날 ) we decided to make two special dishes at Audrey’s apartment. We ended up frying some chapchae (잡채) and Mandu (만두). Surprisingly the Japchae and Gunmandu turned out quite well!
Stay tuned for our second part of this ‘Korean food’ series being released in just a month.
This is part of our Travel in Korea series. We’re making a series of videos showcasing Korean culture, Korean arts, Korean foods, Korean religion and Korean people.
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This video features music -various artists and various songs – available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Commercial license.