WARNING: 15 Great Korean Foods in Seoul That Cause Hunger

Korean BBQ in Seoul
WARNING: this foodies guide to Seoul will make you hungry! You've heard of Bibimbap and Kimchi but what about Gamta-Jang, Dak-Galbi, Kalguksu and Dakkochi? Discover these, and more, and where to get them.

What's In This Guide?

The range of Korean food available in Seoul completely blew my mind, and for that alone I can’t wait to return to this amazing megacity.

Of course, I had previously eaten some of the common Korean dishes like Bibimbap, Kimchi Stew, and the weekly Korean BBQ at home in Australia. However, over the course of just 9 days in Seoul my Korean food vocabulary grew exponentially.

This article will give you an overview of some of the tastiest Korean food in Seoul which I was introduced to by a range of locals. Many of these dishes I had never even heard of before being shown around Seoul on what seemed to be a continuous food tour.

Making things even easier for you, I’ve included where to try each dish throughout the city too! Some spots are located in lively food markets, others in unassuming side alley restaurants.

If you are traveling to Seoul soon, and in search of good local food (as you should be), then I hope you find this guide to Korean food in Seoul useful!

1. Korean Fried Chicken (Chi-Maek)

First things first, you simply can’t visit Seoul without getting into some Korean Fried Chicken. When paired with beer as the Korean’s typically do, it is referred to as chi-maek. Crispy, succulent pieces of chicken are fried to perfection then coated in a moreish sauce, often sweet and spicy. You’ll find that most Korean Chicken restaurants sell the entire chicken, so you’re best off going in a group of two or more unless you’re absolutely starving.

Where to get it: Seoulista near Central Station has a wide range of craft beers and great chicken. Oppadak and Puradak in Myeongdong are also both great local choices.

2. Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)

Kimchi is the soul of Korean food, and Kimchi Jjigae is where it truly shines. This hearty stew consists of fermented kimchi, tofu, vegetables, and your choice of meat (typically pork or seafood). It’s all simmered together to create a spicy and umami loaded lunch or dinner that is to die to. Served piping hot in a stone pot, it’s the ultimate comfort food that’ll make you feel like you’re dining in a Korean grandma’s kitchen.

Where to get it: 채움김밥전문점 (I don’t know an English name) is a no-frills Korean restaurant in Myeongdong offering staple Korean foods, with amazing Kimchi Stew.

3. Budae Jjigae (Army Stew)

My Korean friends always chuckle when I call it Army Stew, probably because it brings up memories of the staple food eaten during their military services. Army Stew is an umami loaded thick soup containing instant ramen, spam, sausage, pork belly, baked beans, all brought together with a spicy dollop of Gochujang. It is served over a gas burner on your table and generally requires 5-10 minutes of patience before being ready to slurp up.

Where to get it: Yunga’s Spicy Sausage Stew (Naver Map link, doesn’t exist on Google) near Seoul Station is a hidden local eatery, packed with office workers around lunch.

4. Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ is not just a meal, it’s an entire experience you have to try when in Seoul. Find a lively BBQ joint, pull up a seat at a tabletop grill, and get ready to start your cook up. Order a selection of marinated meats, from juicy pork belly to tender beef bulgogi, and grill them to perfection right at your table. Wrap the grilled goodness in lettuce leaves, add some Ssamjang (spicy dipping sauce), then wash it all down with a Soju bomb Seoul style.

Where to get it: Chamsut Gogitgol has top quality meats which you BBQ over coals rather than a gas flame for the perfect char-grilled taste.

5. Dak-galbi (Spicy Fried Chicken)

If you’re a fan of spicy food then Dak-galbi is your go-to dish in Seoul. This flavor loaded stir-fry consists of marinated chicken, cabbage, perilla leaves, tteokbokki rice cakes, and scallion, all cooked up in a fiery gochujang (red chili paste) sauce. Dak-galbi is typically cooked on a large grill plate right on your table in a similar way you do Korean BBQ.

Where to get it: WooRiJib is a local restaurant that has been open for years loved by locals between the two main palaces.

6. Tteokbokki (Spicy Rice Cakes)

For a quick street food fix, look no further than Tteokbokki. These chewy rice cakes are smothered in a spicy, slightly sweet sauce, creating a delightful contrast in texture and flavor. You’ll often find Tteokbokki vendors in Seoul’s night markets where you can grab a skewer on the go.

Where to get it: Gwangjang Market in Jongno district has loads of Tteokbokki stores and other street foods.

7. Gamjatang (Pork Bone Soup)

Gamja-tang is a hearty spicy stew featuring pork bones, typically the neck or spine. The stew is cooked with potatoes, vegetables, spicy gochugaru (red chili flakes), and perilla leaves and seeds. Picking the meat from the bones makes this dish a bit messier for those not quite used to it (me included). However, the slow cooked, hours long stewed bones makes the meat super tender and tasty, totally worth the extra work.

Where to get it: Ilmjip restaurant on the western side of Seoul Central Station does amazing Gamta-jang pork bone soup.

8. Kalguksu Noodles (Hand Cut Noodles)

If you’re a noodle lover, then you have to try Kalguksu in Seoul. These handmade knife-cut noodles are served with an umami loaded broth, often made from anchovies, clams, or vegetables. It is common for Kalguksu noodles to be served with side dishes of Kimchi and a seaweed stew.

Where to get it: Kalguksu Alley in Namdaemun Market serves nothing but Kalguksu noodles, and is THE place to have this dish in Seoul.

9. Mandu (Korean Dumplings)

Mandu are Korean dumplings which you can get either steamed, boiled, or fried and crispy. These dumplings are typically stuffed with a mixture of meat, tofu, vegetables, and seasonings. Dip them in a soy-based sauce, and you’ll be hooked.

Where to get it: Gwangjang Market in Jongno district has loads of Mandu Dumplings stores and other Korean street foods.

Tip: Gwangjang Market is also one of my top 12 places to visit in Seoul, check out the article for the other 11 spots and other practical tips for exploring this city.

10. Kimchi: Side dish to everything

No Korean meal is complete without Kimchi, it is the quintessential side dish. This fermented cabbage, seasoned with chili pepper, garlic, and other spices, is the backbone of Korean cuisine. With its complex flavors and various varieties, Kimchi adds depth to any meal. You won’t typically order Kimchi as a standalone dish, but have it served as a side dish to almost any meal you have in Korea from Korean Fried Chicken to Kalguksu Noodles.

Where to get it: anywhere Korean food is served in Seoul. If there’s no Kimchi side dish, it ain’t Korean.

11. Sundubu Jjigae (Silken Tofu Stew)

Sundubu Jjigae is a comforting silken tofu soup that will warm you up on a cold Seoul day. This spicy stew is typically loaded with soft tofu, vegetables, and your choice of meat, often seafood or pork. Crack an egg into the bubbling broth, mix it in, and slurp up the silky hearty texture.

Where to get it: Insadong Geujip in an Insadong side alley offers great spicy soups and other staple Korean foods.

12. Dakkochi (Chicken Skewers)

When hunger hits while you’re exploring Seoul’s lively streets, keep an eye out for Dakkochi. These chicken and scallion skewers are grilled then glazed with a sweet and savory sauce consisting of gochujang, garlic, and sesame oil. Dakkochi is a popular street food snack you will find all around Seoul, particularly in food markets or pop up events.

Where to get it: Myeongdong Street Food Market which gets active from 6pm onwards.

13. Japchae (Stir Fried Glass Noodles)

Japchae is a common stir-fried noodle dish loaded with starch-based glass noodles, vegetables and thinly sliced strips of beef or pork. It is seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil then all mixed together. The chewy glass noodles, made from sweet potato starch, soak up all those flavours and create a uniquely textured Korean dish. Japchae is either served as a side dish, or a main with rice.

14. Bibimbap (Mixed Meat, Veggies, and Rice)

Bibimbap is a true Korean classic food. A bowl of steamed rice is topped with an array of colorful condiments including sautéed vegetables, marinated meat, and a sunny-side-up egg. In Korean bibim means mixed and bap means rice. As the name suggests, mix it all together with gochujang (red chili paste) and enjoy the harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

Where to get it: Insadong Geujip in an Insadong side alley offers good Bibimbap along with other amazing Korean stews.

15. Soondae (Blood Sausage)

Soondae is a unique Seoul food for the adventurous type. This blood sausage is made from a mixture of pig’s blood, glutinous rice, and various seasonings. It is served steamed or grilled, usually alongside Tteokbokki spicy rice cakes. Soondae has a rich flavour that’s certainly an acquired taste – I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my favourite but worth a try.

Where to get it: Gwangjang Market in Jongno district and most other street food markets offer Soondae.

16. Bingsu (Shaved Ice with Red Bean)

After exploring all these savory dishes in Seoul, it’s time to satisfy your sugar cravings with some colourful Bingsu. This Korean shaved ice dessert comes in various flavors, but the most popular is Patbingsu, featuring sweet red beans, condensed milk. It’s a refreshing and relatively light dessert that’ll cool you down on a hot Seoul afternoon.

Where to get it: without narrowing this down to just one, check out this list of the top Bingsu spots in Seoul.

What was your favourite Korean food in Seoul? Drop me a direct message with a photo on Instagram and I’ll be sure to check it out during my next visit. As a thank you I’ll reshare to my page tagging you for some extra exposure.

Author Bio

G'day I'm Josh (some call me Fishtank) and on this blog I'll show you how to travel Asia beyond what you thought was possible. We'll explore the highest waterfalls, most remote islands, eat the best street food, and plenty more!

Josh Shephard

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