Must-try dishes when you travel to Korea
Have you tried any of these dishes?
Next in my series of reminiscing about the good old travel days, in this post I will introduce you to the Korean dishes that I love. Save these for your next trip!
Shall we begin with the most famous dish: Korean BBQ? This can be considered as the national dish of Korea. The eating culture around the dish is also interesting. For example, when Koreans go out for a BBQ, they often go in a big group and the meal includes drinking. BBQ restaurants in Korea is called “gogijip” which literally means a house of meat. Your options include beef, pork, chicken, and many different types of sauce and side dishes.
Two things you need to keep in mind when having Korean BBQ: First, unlike in Vietnam, at Korean BBQ restaurants, you won’t have the waiter grill the meat for you. Instead, customers will grill and cut the meat as they wanted. Second, make sure to eat the whole roll in one bite, otherwise you will be considered as being impolite!
Image – Seongkeong Longest
Naengmyeon, cold noodle, is a popular lunch dish in Korea, especially during summer. To be honest, the dish doesn’t look too tempting to me at first. However, it takes sophistication to make, including buckwheat noodle, sliced cucumber, grilled meat, and boiled egg. The broth is cold with a slight sour taste to it, perfect for a summer day. You can try Naengmyeon at any restaurant in Korea, but I especially like the Naengmyeon restaurants in Myeongdong for the perfect price and taste.
I grew up with the Kdrama where whenever there’s a broken heart, there’s sundae with soju on a side-walk stall. When I come to Korea, I realize that wasn’t just on the movies. In the evening, ajumma and ajusshi will start to bring out the stalls and tarps and prepare steaming hot sundae. Sundae is steamed pork or beef intestine, stuffed with thin vermicelli and herbs. The sundae places usually have odeng (fish cake), tteokbokki (rice cake), boiled intestines,… You can also order a soju if you’re up for a fun night.
Chimaek is indispensable to the drinking culture of Korean. Chimaek combines 2 words: “chi” – short for chicken, and “maek” means beer on Korean. Chimaek, thus, is eating fried chicken along side with a beer. Korean fried chicken is juicy and crunchy with lots of sauces, pairing with a cold beer is just perfect. This is the favorite weekend activity of many Koreans. After the chimaek, Koreans with go for another round to the karaoke (norebang) until late.
Excitingly, gopchang is making its way to Korean restaurants in Vietnam. When I came to Seoul and tried gopchang for the first time, I was in love. Gopchang is grilled pork intestines, which is another famous anju (drinking snack). Gopchang is chewy and will have that fatty, juicy taste when grilled. Pairing it with a shot of soju is perfect for a chilly winter day. Gopchang comes at a little bit higher price than normal BBQ, so my advice is to try the gopchang places around universities like Hongdae and Sinchon for greater value!
Tang in Korean means soup-like dishes. Besides the famous Samgyetang (삼계탕) (chicken ginseng stew) and Seolleongtang (설렁탕) (beef bone stew), when I was in Korea, I also tried Gamjatang (potato soup). In this dish, potato is stewed till soft, along with green onion, pork bone, chilli, and the signature: perilla seed. This soup is perfect for the cold days in Korea as it’s spicy and fulfilling. It also goes well with rice.
Chuncheon dakgalbi (춘천 닭갈비)
When you visit student areas in Seoul, you will notice seeing the 닭갈비 signs everywhere – which mean Korean stir fried chicken. This dish is pretty cheap and can be shared, so it’s definitely a must-try if you’re traveling with friends. Boneless chicken is stir-fried at the table, with chilly sauce, tteok (rice cake), cabbage, sweet potato, and cheese, giving an interesting texture and taste to the dish. After you finish the chicken, you can order a rice bowl with dry seaweed to fry on the pan, super yummy!
If you come to Korea in the summer, make sure not to miss the loved-by-all bingsu! I’m sure many of you are familiar with this dish. Bingsu in Korea is updated from the traditional version with red bean and syrup to a variety of toppings like fruits, ice cream, and marshmallow. The menu also offers honey toasted bread, which is another must-try dessert for summer.
Did I miss any other yummy Korean dishes? Comment below!
You may want to read