Korean cuisine is known for its bold flavors, hearty dishes, and healthy ingredients. Seoul, the bustling capital city of South Korea, offers a plethora of options for foodies to explore. From traditional Korean barbecue to spicy soups, there is no shortage of delicious dishes to try. In this article, we will highlight some of the best places to find authentic Korean cuisine in Seoul.
Seoul is a city that never sleeps, and neither do its street food vendors and restaurants. The city is a haven for foodies, with its array of traditional dishes, modern fusion cuisine, and unique dining experiences. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, exploring the food scene in Seoul should be at the top of your list. In this article, we will guide you through the best places to find Korean cuisine in Seoul, from traditional dishes to street food, fried chicken to kimchi, and everything in between.
Traditional Korean Dishes to Try
No trip to Seoul is complete without trying some of its traditional dishes. One of the most popular dishes is bibimbap, a rice dish served with an assortment of vegetables, meat, and a fried egg. Another must-try dish is bulgogi, a sweet and savory grilled beef dish. For those who prefer a spicier flavor, kimchi jjigae is a spicy kimchi stew that is sure to satisfy. Other traditional dishes to try include gimbap, a Korean version of sushi, and tteokbokki, spicy rice cakes that are a popular street food snack.
Best Korean Barbecue Restaurants
Korean barbecue is a must-try when visiting Seoul. The city is home to some of the best Korean barbecue restaurants in the world. One of the most popular is Maple Tree House, which offers a variety of meats including beef, pork, and chicken. Another favorite is Palsaik Samgyeopsal, which serves pork belly with eight different flavors ranging from wine to ginseng. If you are looking for a more upscale experience, Gaon Korean BBQ offers premium cuts of beef and a fine-dining atmosphere.
Top Korean Street Food in Seoul
Seoul’s street food scene is one of the best in the world. There are countless food stalls and markets throughout the city that offer a variety of street food options. Some of the most popular street foods include hotteok, a sweet Korean pancake filled with cinnamon, sugar, and nuts, and tteokbokki, spicy rice cakes served with fish cakes and boiled eggs. Other must-try street foods include gyeran-bbang, a Korean egg bread, and bindaetteok, a savory mung bean pancake.
Best Places to Try Korean Fried Chicken
Korean fried chicken, also known as KFC, is a popular dish that has taken the world by storm. Seoul is home to some of the best KFC restaurants, including Kyochon Chicken, which offers crispy fried chicken with a soy garlic or spicy sauce. Another popular restaurant is Bonchon Chicken, which is known for its crispy wings and drumsticks. For a unique twist on KFC, check out Dak-galbi, a spicy stir-fried chicken dish that is a popular street food in Seoul.
Where to Find the Best Kimchi
Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine and can be found in almost every meal. It is a spicy and tangy fermented vegetable dish that is made with a variety of ingredients, including cabbage, radish, and scallions. Some of the best places to find kimchi in Seoul are at local markets such as Gwangjang Market and Noryangjin Fish Market. You can also find kimchi in traditional Korean restaurants such as Gwanghwamun Jip and Tosokchon Samgyetang.
Korean Snacks and Desserts to Try
Seoul offers a variety of sweet and savory snacks and desserts that are perfect for a quick bite or a sweet treat. One popular snack is bungeoppang, a fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean paste. Another popular dessert is patbingsu, a shaved ice dessert topped with sweetened red bean paste, fruit, and condensed milk. You can also try hotteok, a sweet Korean pancake filled with cinnamon, sugar, and nuts, or churros filled with Korean-inspired fillings such as green tea or sweet potato.
Vegetarian and Vegan Options in Seoul
While Korean cuisine is known for its meat dishes, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options in Seoul. One of the best places to find vegetarian and vegan food is at temple food restaurants, such as Balwoo Gongyang and Sanchon. You can also find vegetarian and vegan options at many Korean barbecue restaurants, such as Plant, which offers plant-based meat alternatives. Other vegetarian and vegan options include bibimbap made with tofu or vegetables, kimchi jjigae made with mushrooms instead of meat, and gimbap filled with vegetables or tofu.
Unique Dining Experiences in Seoul
Seoul offers a variety of unique dining experiences that are not to be missed. One of the most popular is the Korean traditional hanjeongsik, a multi-course meal served in traditional Korean fashion. Another unique experience is dining at a Korean pojangmacha, a street food tent that serves a variety of dishes and drinks. For a more modern experience, try dining at a Korean fusion restaurant such as Mingles, which combines traditional Korean flavors with modern cooking techniques.
Food Markets and Food Tours in Seoul
Exploring Seoul’s food markets and taking a food tour is a great way to experience Korean cuisine. Some of the best food markets in Seoul include Gwangjang Market, Noryangjin Fish Market, and Namdaemun Market. You can also take a food tour to explore the city’s best food spots, such as the Seoul Food Tour or the Myeongdong Food Tour.
Drinking Culture in Seoul
Drinking is an important part of Korean culture, and Seoul offers a variety of drinking options. One popular drink is soju, a clear and potent Korean liquor. It is often served with a variety of Korean snacks such as dried squid, peanuts, and fried chicken. Another popular drink is makgeolli, a sweet and milky rice wine. You can also try Korean craft beer at breweries such as Magpie Brewing Co. and The Booth Brewing Co.
Seoul is a food lover’s paradise, offering a variety of traditional and modern Korean cuisine. From Korean barbecue to street food, fried chicken to kimchi, and everything in between, there is something for everyone. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, exploring Seoul’s food scene is a must-do experience.
What is bibimbap?
Bibimbap is a rice dish served with an assortment of vegetables, meat, and a fried egg.
What is the best Korean barbecue restaurant in Seoul?
There are many great Korean barbecue restaurants in Seoul, but some of the most highly recommended include Maple Tree House, Seorae Galmaegi, and Gaon Korean BBQ.
What is the best time to visit Gwangjang Market?
Gwangjang Market is open daily from 9am to 11pm, but the best time to visit is in the evening when the market comes alive with food vendors and bustling crowds.
Can I find halal food in Seoul?
Yes, there are several halal restaurants in Seoul, including Makan Halal Restaurant, Kervan Halal, and Seoul Kebab.
What is the drinking age in Seoul?
The legal drinking age in South Korea is 19 years old, but some establishments may have their own age restrictions. It is important to always bring a valid ID when drinking in Seoul.