South Korea takes basic ingredients and cooks them up into comfort foods for the soul. Its cuisines are not the exotic kind you would expect from a foreign land. Every slurp of a South Korean soup makes you feel cozy. Every bite full of organic herbs makes you feel refreshed. Whether you are eating from a restaurant or getting a bowl from the street vendor, it doesn’t matter. When in South Korea, your eyes will keep wandering in a dilemma. It’s hard to decide which foods you have to eat when you are in South Korea, because there are so many spicy and fantastic options!
However, you don’t want to keep eating the same thing over and over again. We want you to taste the complete essence of South Korea. That is why we came up with the best list of 10 must-try foods full of bold Korean flavors.
Check Out Our Article on Things To Do in Seoul, South Korea Here!
10 Foods You Have to Eat in South Korea
1. Korean Fried Chicken
Did we just suggest you fried chicken right off the bat? Yes, our first must-have food is Korean Fried Chicken. You can never go wrong with fried chicken. Now one may wonder what’s so different about Korean fried chicken.
The pieces are double-fried that makes them lighter and crispier on the outside and moister on the inside. Overall, it is nothing like you have tasted before. You can kickstart with it as a light appetizer for dinner. Besides, Koren Fried Chicken with a cold beer, also called Chimaek, is the perfect combo on a Seoul evening hangout!
The Korean Bibimbap is a popular bowl of assortments. It is the tastiest fulfilling dish that combines healthy combinations. It is a lunch-bowl full of rice, a fried egg on top, mixed with colorful vegetables. You also get red meat such as beef seasoned with sesame oil and a dollop of Korean chili paste. Whether you’re at a restaurant or are shopping the ingredients to make it at home, you must try this lunch favorite!
You can’t talk about Korean food without thinking Kimchi! You can buy different types of it at the Gwangjang Market. Although there are hundreds of types of kimchi, they all have a similar concept of taste. It’s the only side dish that complements and completes any Korean meal. It is traditionally fermented from any vegetable and seasoned with organic herbs. Overall kimchi has a sour kick to it when you cut through its spicy bits with your teeth.
If you’re in the mood for some beefsteak meal, try the juicy Bulgogi. It is one of the most delicious meals across the world. Bulgogi is a popular South Korean dish that you eat with your rice and kimchi. It doesn’t take much time to marinate and grill its pieces since they’re very thinly sliced. You can also enjoy bulgogi in a colorful and healthy lettuce wrap. Combine it with fresh herbs and spices for an added burst of flavor.
Time for some ice cream! When in South Korea, you can enjoy Bingsu, an exquisite type of ice cream that packs a punch of fine flavors. It is not just some ordinary dessert to fulfill your sweet tooth cravings.
Although the combinations have changed over time, Bingsu is all about enjoying ice cream with fruits. It still holds a traditional taste when you top it off with red beans. Overall, the intensity of its sweetness satisfies every corner of your tongue.
Back to another traditional meal, you must try Japchae, a healthy stir-fry. This popular Korean dish consists of vegetables such as sweet potatoes tossed with Korean glass noodles.
Japchae combines the crunchiness of vegetables with chewy sweet-tasting noodles. For a refreshing taste, sesame seeds complete this well-balanced dish of sweet and savory flavors. The best part is, you can fulfill your noodle cravings without having to sip and slurp on anything.
7. Steamed Mandu Dumplings
A true South Korean trip must include some traditional dumplings! Steamed Mandu dumplings, or Jjinmandu, are delicious goodness that has a pork or beef filling. Your taste buds can taste the minced meat with an addition of ginger, garlic, and onions. You can’t go wrong with a side of kimchi and a dip of soy sauce, chili oil, and vinegar while having Jjinmandu.
How does cinnamon-filled and nutty goodness sound? Hoeddeok is all about it! It is Korean for sweet syrupy pancakes that you enjoy best in the streets during winter. Its crispy exterior crunches into a gooey filling that warms up your soul. Try out this popular sweet snack with ice cream to feel dough-filled sugary happiness!
The delicious and spicy Sundubu-jjigae or soft tofu stew is a South Korean loved dish. The combination of silky uncurdled tofu and the Korean staple kimchi is what makes this cuisine so special!
The kimchi gives a tangy flavor, sesame oil makes it aromatic while the soft tofu in an anchovy broth makes for a refreshing bite. It sounds like too much happening in one mouthful, but you can taste the distinctiveness. Sundubu-jjigae is a dish that hijacks your tastebuds once you get a taste of it.
10. Ganjang Gejang
Our list of 10 must-haves would be incomplete without seafood so we saved one of the best for the last! For a seafood side dish to your rice, you must try Ganjang Gejang.
Ganjang Gejang is a raw marinated crab dish that is slow-cooked in soy sauce. It is the ultimate Korean dish that can take an entire day to two whole weeks.
It might be an expensive dish due to its preparation, but it has a unique and unmatched taste. Many would recommend a Korean barbeque, but we want you to get the best out of your South Korean travel experience!
In conclusion, as much as we’re sure that you will want to try everything from the above list, we want to know your favorites. Let us know which ones lingered in your taste buds the most!
Check out the best places to go shopping in Seoul, South Korea here!