If you want to understand the culture & people of a country, dine with the locals. Food is the perfect reflection of the culture & tradition of a country. But when you travel to a new place it is pretty hard to understand the local language & its food culture.
Korean food has become quite popular thanks to the popularity of Korean Drama, films & Korean Pop ( Special mention to BTS group)
Korean cuisine is not just about Kimchi or a large bowl of rice & Seafood Stew. It is, in fact, quite versatile & one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Here we present you a list of 10 Must-Try South Korean Food for every foreigner visiting South Korea
Must try South Korean Food
Over the years Korean dishes have gained a lot of popularity among food lovers. These dishes are versatile, nutritious, balanced & well presented. They have a good balance of spices, hot & sour flavors appealing to the majority of people.
Samgyetang ( Ginseng Chicken Soup)
Samgyetang or chicken soup is light & full of flavors. It is rich, filling, healthy & full of flavors. It consists of a whole chicken stuffed with rice, garlic & spices cooked in a broth.
It is mainly served in summer. It is said that Samgyetang helps to cure ailments & provide wholesome nutrition to the body.
Kimchi (Pickled Vegetables)
Kimchi is the most versatile & loved side dish in Korean cuisine. You will see it with most of the Korean dishes. It is pickled vegetables mostly cabbage.
The flavor is spicy & tangy. You will develop an instant liking for the dish if you like spicy food. There are so many types of Kimchi available in fact it is said that every household has a special receipe to make Kimchi.
Sundubu Jjigae (Soft Tofu Stew)
Soft Tofu Stew Or Sundubu Jjigae is Korean comfort food. Chunks of soft tofu are served with vegetables & meat in a flavorful soup. An egg is cracked in it once the dish is cooked.
The egg cooks from the heat of the dish. It is served in a traditional earthen pot which enhances its flavor & visual appeal.
Dolsot Bibimbap (Hotpot Mixed Rice)
Hotpot Mixed Rice Or Dolsot Bibimbap is a Korean signature dish. It holds a special place among Korean Food.
Bibimbap is served in a pot. It mainly comprises of sticky rice, seasoned vegetables, sprouts, pepper sauce, soy sauce & served with Kimchi & a soup. It’s a complete meal in itself.
( Tip: Vegetarians can try this dish. Just ask the food stall attendant not to add any meat. It’s a good option to eat out in Korea.)
Kimchi Bokkeumbap (Kimchi Fried Rice)
Kimchi Fried Rice Or Kimchi Bokkeumbap is another popular dish. It is quite similar to Chinese Fried rice. A variety of Korean sticky rice is stir-fried with vegetables, meat, sauces & kimchi, topped with a fried egg.
The name literally means ‘Fried rice’. Like other popular fried rice dishes, Bokeumbap is made primarily with vegetables & meat topped with an egg.
Japchae ( Fried Sweet Potato Noodles )
Fried Sweet Potato Noodles Or Japchae is sweet potato noodles tossed with vegetables & meat in sesame oil. A dash of soy sauce is added to enhance the flavor. The dish is a little sweet as sugar is added to it.
Dakkochi (Korean Chicken Skewers)
Dakkochi is popular Korean street food. It is packed with flavors, easily available & Cheap. Mind you, it is quite spicy. Grab a bottle of water before ordering this dish :D
Gimbap (Korean rolls)
Gimbap is one of the best looking Korean Foods. It resembles Japanese sushi rolls. It is a pretty versatile dish. You can add any number of vegetables or any kind of filling in it.
Sticky rice along with vegetables & meat rolled neatly in a sheet of dried laver seaweed. It is cut into bite-size pieces & served with kimchi.
( Tip: If you want to ask for a vegetarian pizza or burger ask for Yachae pizza or burger which means vegetables only no meat. )
Chimaek (Fried Chicken)
Chimaek is essentially deep-fried chicken & beer. You will find it in most of the popular food joints.
It’s a stew-like Korean dish, made with pickled vegetables or kimchi, pork or seafood & scallions.
Bonus Dish- Dakgalbi
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This dish deserves a special mention in Must-Try Korean Food, Dakgalbi. Small pieces of chicken are stir-fried with vegetables, rice cake & special dakgalbi sauce on a hot plate. It hardly takes 6-8 minutes to cook this dish on the plate.
Dakgalbi is served with a variety of side dishes, kimchi, green leaves & egg. You can ask for a bowl of rice or Ramen noodles to be added to the dish. It tastes divine. I highly recommend this preparation. I’ve become a huge fan for life.
Frequently asked questions
1. Is Korean Food Spicy?
Yes & No. Korean dishes are mostly either in a soup form or a hot pot/plate dishes. The spice level can be adjusted according to your preference. They use special chilly paste to give it a deep red color & flavor.
2. Are Korean dishes only non-vegetarian?
No. Many dishes like bibimbap or Gimbap are served as vegetarian dishes too. You will have to ask the food joint to make it for you. They will surely oblige.
3. Is Korean food healthy?
In fact, Korean food is one of the healthiest foods in the world. They use a large number of Fresh vegetables, seaweed, seafood & a variety of meat. It is well balanced & provides complete nutrition.
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” -Cesar Chavez
I hope you liked the list. If you have samples any other popular dish that you think should be added in the ‘Must Try South Korean Food’ list, leave the description in the comment section below.
Your feedback would help other food lovers & travelers to sample the taste of South Korean Food better.
Happy eating, Happy Travelling!
(Updated: Dec 3, 2019)