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While Korea has been known for kimchi and Korean BBQ, there’s a whole other delicious Korean food waiting to be discovered. That’s why when I finally came to visit Seoul, it was a total blast; I kept getting surprised by ‘accidental food discovery’. Now I can say that South Korea is so much more than kimchi!
Here’s a list of Korean dishes that will bring pleasure to your taste buds.
This dish is number one on my list because it’s my absolute favorite! Bibimbap is a large bowl of rice topped with an array of individually prepared vegetables and beef and served with seasoned red chili pepper paste (gochujang). Everything should be mixed together before eating. This dish is normally served in a sizzling hot stone bowl (dolsot). The hot stone bowl gives the bottom layer of rice a nice golden crust, and the rest of the food sizzles while being mixed.
Cost: 4,000 – 7,000 won per person
2. Jeonbokjuk – Abalone porridge
Jeonbokjuk is a variety of juk, or Korean porridge, made with abalone and white rice. It is known not only a delicacy but also as a nutritional supplement and digestive aid, especially for ill patients or elderly people. I have never been much of an abalone lover but these were so good, I think I can never look at abalones the same way as I did before. In addition, abalones are also known as “ginseng” of the sea, which means its pack with nutritional value.
Cost: 9,500 won per serving
3. Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)
Samgyetang literally means “ginseng chicken soup”. It is made from a whole young chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and boiled in a broth of Korean ginseng, dried seeded jujube fruits, garlic, ginger and various herbs and condiments. The broth is rich with the slight bitterness of ginseng and medicinal herbs. This soup is believed to prevent illness and said to replenish the lost internal heat in the body, giving an energy boost.
At restaurants, the whole chicken is served uncut as one serving, but it can easily be two servings. The soup is usually not seasoned while being cooked. It’s served with salt and pepper on the side, so each person can season the broth to taste and use the remainder to dip the meat in. If you’re trying it for the first time, samgyetang will be nothing like any other chicken soup you’ve had before.
Cost: 15,000 won per person
Jajangmyeon is another popular Korean noodle dish. It is made of hand-pulled noodles in black sauce diced pork and vegetables, and sometimes also seafood. It’s filling and hearty like a bowl of spaghetti, but with an Asian flair. It’s one of those dishes that you can get whenever you need a quick meal.
Cost: 4,000 – 6,000 won per person
5. Korean BBQ
What so special about Korean BBQ is that you cook your own meat at your table and grabbed the endless amount of beef, chicken and pork belly. Wrap it in a lettuce leaf, put some onions and kimchi on it, some sauce and munch! Unfortunately for carnivores, meat is generally more expensive in Seoul. With that said, these do come with several plates of banchan, rice, and soup, so the amount of food that will fill you up.
Cost: 35,000 – 70,000 KRW per order (depending on the meat)
6. Dakgangjeong – Korean Fried Chicken
Dakgangjeong is a deep-fried crispy chicken dish glazed in a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce. It’s traditionally made with a whole chicken that’s been cut up. Despite having a thick glaze of sauce over, the chicken skin is still as crisp and delicious. I personally like the boneless version because it’s quicker and easier to eat.
Cost: 8,800 won per serving
7. Dak Galbi
Dak galbi is very popular all over Korea. It is a spicy stir-fried chicken dish made with boneless chicken pieces, rice cakes (tteokbokki tteok), green cabbage, sweet potato, and other vegetables together on a hot plate. Dak means chicken, and galbi means ribs. But, there are no ribs in this dish. The sauce for dak galbi is made with staple Korean ingredients, such as gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes), gochujang (red chili pepper paste), garlic and ginger. It is pretty spicy but you can have some egg on the side to help put out the fire if it got too hot. Definitely, a must try if you’re not a fan of kimchi!
Cost: 10,000 -11,000won per person
8. Nakji Bokkeum – Spicy Stir Fried Octopus
This is a very spicy octopus dish enjoyed by many Koreans. Octopus tentacles are cut into bite-sized pieces then pan stir-fried with spicy red chili pepper paste along with red chili pepper flakes, sesame oil, red/green chili peppers, green onions, carrots, and onions. If you are an octopus lover, then this dish is certainly for you.
Cost: 7,000 – 10,000 Won per serving
9. Yangnyeom Gejang (Spicy Raw Crabs)
Yangnyeom gejang is a spicy marinated raw crab dish. Don’t let the color fool you, the marinade is just as sweet as it is spicy! The best way to enjoy this dish is by using your hands! Undoubtedly, it is rather untidy to consume, yet, you will not have the ability to stop grabbing another piece of crab and licking off any sauce left on your fingers.
Cost: 4,000 – 6,000 won per person
10. Soondubu Jjigae
It’s a spicy soft tofu soup which normally comes in a seafood version with shrimp, clams, oysters and mussels, but if you don’t like seafood there are other versions such as beef, pork, mushroom, vegetarian and so on. When they serve soondubu, it is always super-hot and still bubbling and they crack an egg in it right at your table. I suggest giving it a few minutes to cool before you dig in or else you will end up with a burnt tongue for the next couple days.
Cost: 5,000 Won per serving
11. Budae Jigae (Korean Army Stew)
This was rapidly popularized after the Korean War, where people had little to eat and protein was scarce. People made this stew from leftover spam (luncheon meat) and sausages from the army camp rations, then cooked it in traditional chili paste soup broth and thus the army stew came about. This is a dish worth trying.
Cost: 21,000 won (enough for 3-4)
Naengmyeon means “cold noodles”, and refers to a Korean dish made of long, thin noodles, julienned cucumbers, slices of Korean pear, and either a boiled egg or slices of cold boiled beef and served in iced broth. It’s very popular in Korea all year ’round but especially in summertime, because it’s a great way to cool down. The noodles often have some buckwheat in them, but can also be made with the flour or starch of potatoes, sweet potatoes, arrowroot, kudzu, seaweed or green tea. Traditionally, the long noodles would be eaten without cutting, as they symbolized longevity of life and good health, but servers at restaurants usually ask if the noodles should be cut prior to eating. This dish is refreshingly good.
Cost: 4,000 – 6,000 Won per serving
This unique savory dish combines traditional Korean ingredients with a refreshing chill. This dish is made from nutritious buckwheat noodles, seasoned with essential sesame oil and topped with a salty, spicy red pepper sauce, radish, cabbage, cucumbers and bean sprouts (that’s right, this dish does contain some fire) and served with icy broth. Salted seaweed and boiled egg add depth of texture and flavor.
Cost: 7,000 won per plate
14. Blood sausage stuffed with noodles (sundae)
Sundae is a Korean dish made from steaming or boiling either cow’s or pig’s intestine casing stuffed with a mixture of vegetables, pig’s blood, noodles and various seasonings. You can think of sundae as blood sausage with glass noodles inside. Usually, this dish is served with a healthy portion of both steamed or boiled lung and liver. The combination of steamed liver, lung and blood may be overwhelming for some people but these dishes are everywhere in Korea from street corners to fine diners. This dish doesn’t make for a visually pleasing meal, but they’re rich, flavorful and surprisingly addictive.
Cost: 6,000 Won per plate
15. Sannakji (Live Baby Octopus)
I’m only putting this one on the list for the adventurous eaters. It’s fresh baby octopus, so fresh that you can still see the tentacles squirming on your chopsticks and in your mouth. Oh yes, you eat these baby octopus raw. The baby octopus is cut into pieces whilst still alive, lightly seasoned with sesame oil and served – this dish is only for the brave heart!
Cost: 15,000 won per person
There you have it my 15 most recommended dish to try in Seoul South Korea. Share your must try food in Seoul too, respond as a comment below 🙂
You may also want to check my blog on N Seoul Tower and Namsan Park, Gyeongbukgong and Changdeokgung Palace, Hanok Village, My First Impressions of Seoul,Budget Travel in Seoul , Korean BBQ Experience, 15 Must try Street Food in Seoul, Places to Visit in Seoul, Lotte Word