What to eat and drink in South Korea

In Korea, meals is for the soul in addition to for the abdomen. Meals are meant for sharing, and consuming is seen as a method to higher well being and well-being. Recognized for spicy flavors, Korean meals tradition is all in regards to the sauces and condiments and, in flip, fermentation – exemplified by the nationwide treasure that’s kimchi and fiery gochujang (purple chili paste).

Koreans love consuming out, and eating choices vary from informal bites at a market stall to regal banquets at conventional eating places. Within the huge cities, meals developments come and go at a breathless tempo, making modern eating in Korea – particularly avenue meals – ideally suited picture fodder for on-line foodies.

No matter takes your fancy, begin with our newbie’s information to Korean eating.

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Korean BBQ is among the greatest hands-on meals experiences © barleyman / Getty Pictures

Get your grill on at a Korean BBQ

Arms-down the most effective hands-on consuming expertise in Korea, there’s one thing about scorching meat with pals on a tabletop grill that actually will get the dialog (and drinks) flowing.

Step one at a Korean BBQ restaurant is to pick your cuts: beef, usually galbi (quick ribs) or bulgogi (thinly-sliced sirloin marinated in candy soy sauce), and pork, equivalent to samgyeopsal (streaky pork stomach). After grilling, wrap every meaty morsel in ssam (vegetable leaves) earlier than consuming, together with optionally available contemporary garlic, inexperienced pepper, kimchi and spicy ssamjang (soybean and red-pepper sauce). And don’t neglect the beer.

The place to attempt it: Hongik Sutbul Galbi, Seoul

Savor a chic Korean banquet

For a extra refined eating expertise, hanjeongsik (generally translated as a set menu or desk d’hôte) is a royal unfold of banquet dishes all served without delay: fish, meat, soup, dubu jjigae (tofu stew), rice, noodles, steamed egg, shellfish and a flock of banchan (chilly aspect dishes). It’s a pleasant approach to pattern a variety of seasonal Korean meals in a single go.

At the most effective locations, the dishes will probably be served in regal bangjja (bronze) tableware, set out aesthetically on the desk in keeping with coloration and style profile, like an edible murals.

The place to attempt it: Korea House, Seoul

Woman eating bibimbap
The colours of the elements in bibimbap characterize the 5 components © RunPhoto / Getty Pictures

Chow down on the proper bibimbap

Consolation in a bowl, bibimbap is the definitive Korean staple: rice topped with greens, generally meat, chili paste and egg. The elements are specified by a bowl in keeping with the 5 major colours of Korean meals – white, yellow, inexperienced, purple and black – representing the 5 components. Simply add a squirt of purple gochujang, stir all of it up and revel in. Bibimbap comes from the food-mad metropolis of Jeonju, together with its scrumptious variant, dolsot bibimbap, served in a scorching stone pot that encourages a satisfying layer of crusty rice to kind on the backside.

The place to attempt it: Hanguk-jip, Jeonju

A bowl of spicy Korean kimchi
You will discover kimchi nearly wherever (at any time) in South Korea © neomistyle / Getty Pictures

Recognize the culinary pleasure that’s kimchi

In Korea, kimchi actually does present up at each meal (even breakfast!) – what began out as a pickling technique to protect cabbage and radish by means of the tough winters has grow to be a cornerstone of Korean delicacies. However that’s certainly not a nasty factor: sour-spicy kimchi is alleged to decrease ldl cholesterol, supercharge intestine well being and forestall the flu.

The most effective methods to understand kimchi as a fundamental course quite than a chilly aspect dish is kimchi-jjigae, a effervescent stew made with kimchi, tofu, veggies and gochujang – simply don’t be stunned if it comes with a aspect of kimchi.

The place to attempt it: actually in every single place

Go for a fried rooster and beer blowout

A pairing so good it even has its personal portmanteau identify, chimaek refers to fried rooster (chikin) with beer (maekju), loved at eating places and hof (pubs) throughout Korea. The beer tends to be frothy jugs of draft lager, whereas the fried rooster is usually served both “plain” or liberally glazed in a gochujang-based candy, spicy, sticky sauce; order banban (half-half) to get a combined plate carried out each methods. One of the best Korean fried rooster needs to be mild and further crisp, due to double-frying and a paper-thin coat of batter.

The place to attempt it: Kkanbu Hen, Seoul 

Crowds enjoy the Myeong-Dong district at night. The district is known as one of the main shopping and tourism areas. Myeongdong is a asian famous shopping for street food and fashion.
The Myeong-Dong district is a implausible spot to discover Korean avenue meals © TwilightShow / Getty Pictures

Dine out on Korean avenue meals

Avenue hawkers in Korea vary from easy meals carts to pojangmacha (avenue tent bars) with tables, chairs and chilly beers. You’ll at all times discover tteokbokki – chewy rice muffins in pans of spicy, saucy gochujang, typically with slices of sundae (blood sausage). Odeng (fishcake skewers) are cooked in vats of broth, which is a seafood and spring-onion soup that Koreans say cures hangovers, whereas dakkochi are grilled rooster skewers with a smoky charred taste and a sticky, tangy barbecue sauce. On the candy aspect, look out for fish-shaped red-bean waffles (bungeoppang) and hotteok – candy pancakes with brown sugar syrup.  

The place to attempt it: Dongdaemun Market, Seoul 

Slurp a bowl of ginseng rooster soup (on a scorching day)

It may appear counterintuitive to eat effervescent scorching soup in excessive summer season, however Koreans consider within the idea of preventing warmth with warmth (“Yi yeol chi yeol”). Samgyetang is a fabulously tasty rooster soup, usually that includes an entire chook filled with ginseng, jujube, ginkgo nut and different healthful herbs, greatest loved on sambok days – the three hottest days of the 12 months. Ginseng is assumed to spice up power, serving to your physique fight the draining results of the warmth and replenishing its misplaced inner heat.

The place to attempt it: Tosokchon, Seoul 

Korean pancake it call PAJEON made from vegetable and seafood.
A comforting plate of pajeon pairs properly with a bottle of makgeolli © bong hyunjung / Getty Pictures

Drink makgeolli and eat pajeon (on a wet day)

A standard farmer’s brew comprised of fermented rice wine, consider makgeolli because the extra civilized (distant) cousin of soju. A lot decrease in alcohol, it has a cloudy look and a mellow yogurt taste. Artisanal makgeolli bars in Seoul serve high quality drops (minus the aspartame discovered in lots of industrial varieties), the place it’s typically paired with pajeon, a savory pancake made with inexperienced onions plus optionally available kimchi or seafood. One thing about this comforting combo evokes quiet reflection; Koreans notably prefer it on wet days.

The place to attempt it: Muldwinda, Seoul 

Vegetarians and vegans

Though Korean delicacies makes use of a number of greens, a lot of it’s pickled or cooked with meat or seafood. Vegetarians can order bibimbap with out meat or egg, however your dubu jjigae (tofu stew) could also be comprised of beef or seafood inventory, and beoseot deopbap (mushrooms on rice) could comprise just a little pork. Even kimchi is commonly made with fish sauce.

Seoul has a sensible choice of worldwide vegetarian and vegan eating places, however for on a regular basis Korean eating, the one assuredly meat-free meals are these served at Buddhist temples or eating places. Seoul Veggie Club (a Fb group) is a helpful useful resource.