A foodie’s guide to the delights of South Korea

MMariana January 18, 2024 7:02 AM

If you're a food lover looking to delve into the mouthwatering world of Korean cuisine, you're in for a treat. This guide walks you through the culinary delights of South Korea, including the must-try dishes, popular street foods, and the best food markets that every foodie should visit.

Must-try dishes in South Korea

South Korean cuisine is a rich tapestry of flavors, textures, and unique ingredients. Here is a list of the must-try dishes that define South Korea's food culture:

  1. Kimchi: A staple in every Korean meal, kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage dish packed with flavor and health benefits.

  2. Bibimbap: Bibimbap is a colorful dish of rice, vegetables, meat, and a spicy gochujang sauce, all mixed together before eating.

  3. Bulgogi: Bulgogi, meaning 'fire meat', is a savory dish made with marinated slices of beef or pork grilled to perfection.

  4. Samgyetang: This comforting chicken soup with ginseng is a traditional dish often enjoyed during the hottest periods of summer.

  5. Japchae: A dish of stir-fried vermicelli noodles with vegetables and meat, japchae is a classic Korean party food.

  6. Tteokbokki: A popular street food, tteokbokki is a dish of chewy rice cakes in a sweet and spicy sauce.

South Korean street food

The street food scene in South Korea is vibrant and diverse. From night markets to food trucks, here are some street food experiences you shouldn't miss:

  • Gwangjang Market in Seoul: Known for its bustling food scene, Gwangjang Market offers delicacies like bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) and sundae (blood sausage).

  • Busan's street food: In Busan, try the ssiat hotteok, a sweet pancake filled with seeds and nuts, and the city's famous fish cakes.

  • Jeonju's food streets: Jeonju, the food capital of South Korea, is renowned for its bibimbap and the unique street food item, choco pie.

South Korean dining etiquette

When dining in South Korea, there are a few etiquette rules to keep in mind. Always use utensils instead of your fingers, even for small items. Wait for the eldest person at the table to start eating before you do. It's also customary to say 'Jal mukgetseumnida' (I will eat well) before starting your meal.

South Korean food markets and restaurants

For the ultimate South Korean food experience, visit the local food markets and restaurants. The Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market in Seoul offers fresh seafood, while the Namdaemun Market is a foodie's paradise with its wide variety of snacks and dishes. As for restaurants, try Jungsik for innovative Korean cuisine, Gwanghwamun Jip for the best kimchi stew, and Tosokchon Samgyetang for the most comforting ginseng chicken soup.

With this guide in your hand, you’re ready to embark on a food adventure in South Korea.

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