South Korea Food Guide: What to Eat in Seoul

From scenic spots to its raved television dramas and beauty products, South Korea is indeed an interesting destination for travelers for so many reasons. Aside from these, it is also one of those places you’ll be wanting to visit if you’re on the quest for searching scrumptious dishes.

Korean restaurants had immensely sprouted in different locations across the globe especially in the Philippines. But there will definitely be no better place to try authentic Korean cuisine than Seoul, Korea.

Restaurant staff assisting us in preparing our food 🙂

Aside from the food, the dining experience itself at a local restaurant is something to look forward to. Many traditional restaurants in South Korea still offer the custom of sitting cross-legged on the floor. Although some people might find it rather uncomfortable, I say you should try at least once.

Traditional Korean restaurant where you can experience the custom of sitting cross-legged on the floor.

Koreans surely love barbecue or grilled meat that’s why you should not miss a barbecue restaurant. Find some places that offer unlimited meat and your day will definitely be complete!

Korean BBQ Restaurant

Korean BBQ Restaurant

It’s also hard to ignore the food stalls while walking around in Seoul. Be it some piece of sausage or hotteok, these quick snacks will save you from getting ‘hangry’ especially if you’re already getting lost for a long time, LOL.

Street Food Stalls

Street Food Stalls

And as popularized by Korean television dramas, who would not want to experience eating in tents while drinking soju particularly in cold nights? They are called Pojangmacha and a variety of street food can be bought here. The tents are usually open till late night. They say Koreans like going and making confessions in these tents.


Pojangmacha – tents where you can buy street food and soju. They say Koreans like going and making confessions in these tents.

Whether it’s in the traditional Korean restaurant, a food stall, or Pojangmacha, make sure to taste the list of mouthwatering food in Seoul listed below.

Our guest house receptionist, Minnie, helped us in finding a restaurant and printed a map for us.

1. Gogigui (Grilled meat, Korean BBQ)

Gogigui literally means “meat roast”. When speaking about Korean food, grilled meat or Korean BBQ will definitely be on the list. Pieces of meat like beef, pork, or chicken are cooked on charcoal grills built in the tables. Don’t forget to add some fresh vegetables, spicy dipping sauce, and sesame oil on your meat. Having to cook it by yourself is definitely an experience to try!

Gogigui - Korean BBQ

Gogigui – Korean BBQ

2. Dakgalbi (Pan Fried Chicken)

Originating from Chuncheon, Gangwon province, you can try Dakgalbi in various restaurants when you visit Nami Island. It’s a stir-fried chicken mixed with different vegetables especially cabbage added with gochujang or red pepper paste. Dakgalbi is typically prepared in a large iron pan.

Dakgalbi - Pan Fried Chicken

Dakgalbi – Pan Fried Chicken

3. Bibimbap (Korean Mixed Rice)

I’d like to say Bibimbap is my Korean comfort food. We ate it almost everyday during our trip and I personally can never have too much Bibimbap in my life, haha. It is simply a bowl of rice topped with vegetables like soy bean sprouts, radish, cucumber, and mushroom.

Bibimbap - Korean Mixed Rice

Bibimbap – Korean Mixed Rice

There are different variations of Bibimbap, some are added with fried or raw egg. Some even have thin slices of beef in it. But above anything else, Bimbap will not be complete without the gochujang. Make sure to mix your bowl well before eating.

Bibimbap topped with raw egg.

Bibimbap topped with raw egg.

Bibimbap topped with fried egg.

Bibimbap topped with fried egg.

4. Bulgogi Jungol (Bulgogi Soup)

Bulgogi or grilled marinated beef is popularly served in barbecue restaurants in Korea. There is also the hotpot version – Bulgogi Jungol or simply, Bulgogi Soup. The Bulgogi is prepared with noodles and vegetables in a savory stew.

Bulgogi Jungol - Bulgogi Soup

Bulgogi Jungol – Bulgogi Soup

Try cooking it on your own for that fun experience or have it made with the friendly restaurant peeps.

Friendly Koreans helping us to cook 🙂

5. Samgyetang (Chicken Ginseng Soup)

Considered as a healthy dish, Samgyetang is Korea’s chicken ginseng soup. It mainly consists of chicken and rice boiled in ginseng broth. Samgyetang is a nutritious dish that aids in boosting the body’s energy.

Samgyetang - Chicken Ginseng Soup

Samgyetang – Chicken Ginseng Soup

6. Gimbap (Seaweed Rice Rolls)

Usually at the end of our day tour, we will sneak out of our guest house even in the cold November nights just to eat some street food nearby. We would visit the same stall each time and ask for the same order over and over again. Our favorite? None other than Gimbap, a seaweed rice roll filled with vegetables and sprinkled with sesame seeds outside.  Gimbap literally means sheet of dried seaweed (gim or kim) and rice (bap).

Gimbap - Seaweed Rice Rolls

Gimbap – Seaweed Rice Rolls

7. Sausage & Tteokbokki Skewers (Rice Cake Rolls in Chili Sauce)

Sausage and Tteokbokki are among the most common street food you can find in the stalls throughout Seoul. Tteokbokki is made of rice cake mixed with fish cake. Like the delicious sausages, it is also drizzled or soaked in the spicy gochujang sauce.

Sausage & Tteokbokki Skewers - Rice Cake Rolls in Chili Sauce

Sausage & Tteokbokki Skewers – Rice Cake Rolls in Chili Sauce

8. Steamed Red Bean Bun

We were able to try the Steamed Red Bean Bun in Nami Island. It’s of one the delectable snacks you can grab while touring around. Be sure to eat it while hot!

Steamed Red Bean Bun

Steamed Red Bean Bun

9. Twigim (Korean Deep Fried Vegetables)

Along with the other street food like Gimbap and and Tteokbokki, you will notice these deep fried vegetable nuggets parading the stalls. They are like vegetable tempura. Get some healthy bite!

Twigim - Korean Deep Fried Vegetables

Twigim – Korean Deep Fried Vegetables

10. Hotteok (Stuffed Pancake)

Hotteok is a sweet, stuffed pancake that you can also find in the streets. Watching how they are made is a cool thing, too! If you need to grab a quick snack, Hotteok and some waffles are your sure life saver.

11. Eomuk or Odeng (fish cakes)

Eumok (or odeng) is the popular fish cake also commonly found in the streets of Seoul. Put in a skewer, they are cooked in a warm, flavorful broth. Some would even savor and sip the hot broth.

Eomuk or Odeng - fish cakes

Eomuk or Odeng – fish cakes

12. Banchan (Side Dishes)

No matter which restaurant you go to in South Korea, the Banchan or the side dishes will be for surely served.

The Banchan are the several side dishes that come in small plates like kimchi, pickles, tofu, bean sprouts, rolled omelette, spinach, radish, and anchovies. No delectable Korean meal will be complete without the Banchan. And they are really quite generous in serving them.

Banchan - Side Dishes

Banchan – Side Dishes