South Korea is a country with a highly diverse and unique culinary culture. From Tteokbokki to Naengmyeon, here are our top picks for the most delicious Korean food that you should try.
Tteokbokki (Rice cakes)
Tteokbokki is a popular Korean spicy dish made from rice cakes, fish cake (Eomuk), vegetables, and sweet chili sauce.
We love this dish as it’s a perfect combination of spicy and sweet flavors.
You will easily find vendors selling Tteokbokki with kimbap, sundae, fried dumplings, and delicious fish skewers.
Eomuk (Fish cake skewers)
Eomuk is a great dish to try during the cold weather. You can buy fish cake skewers anywhere, and it’s delicious and cheap street food.
Eomuk is usually served with well-season broth, or sometimes you can eat it along with Tteokbokki.
Hotteok (Sweet pancake)
Considered a sweeter version of the Western pancakes, Hotteok is popular Korean street food, especially during winter.
Its main ingredient is a thinly rolled powder filled with a mixture of cinnamon, honey, brown sugar, and peanuts.
Hotteok is then grilled, so it has a crispy outside, but the inside is incredibly soft.
Bibimbap (Mixed rice)
Bibimbap is one of the most common Korean dishes.
It combines different ingredients, usually rice, Namul (stir-fried vegetables), mushrooms, beef, soy sauce, gochujang (Korean chili sauce), and fried eggs.
The ingredients of this Korean delicacy can vary by region, and the most famous and familiar mixed rice dishes are often from Jeonju, Tongyeong, and Jinju.
Kimbap (Rice rolls)
Kimbap, also known as rice rolls, is a harmonious combination of rice and ingredients such as seaweed, vegetables, meat, eggs.
This dish reminds me of Japanese sushi, a rice dish wrapped in seaweed leaves. However, the filling of kimbap is a bit bigger and has different ingredients.
Also, the thickness of each Kimbap slice is thinner than the sushi one. With the same size seaweed sheet, sushi can be cut into six slices, while kimbap can be cut into 12 or more pieces.
Samgyetang – Ginseng chicken soup
Samgyetang is a traditional Korean soup made from chicken, garlic, rice, green onion, red apple, Korean ginseng, and spices. The chicken is stewed in a stone pot for many hours and often served with ginseng wine.
Thanks to many nutritious ingredients, ginseng chicken soup is very healthy.
Koreans often make ginseng chicken stew in the summer to cool down and purify the body. It’s also good for the brain, reducing stress, fatigue and enhancing immunity.
Naengmyeon (Cold noodles)
Naengmyeon is a very popular cold noodle dish in Korea, consisting of noodles (usually buckwheat noodles), cucumbers, a few slices of Korean pear, beef, and hard-boiled eggs.
Although the noodles are usually buckwheat noodles, potato noodles, or sweet potatoes, sometimes the chef uses other noodles, depending on your order.
Naengmyeon is an excellent choice to cool off the hot heat and humid air in the summer. However, if you visit South Korea in other seasons, you should still give it a try.
Black soybean noodle (Jajangmyeon) is also one of Korea’s very famous noodle dishes.
The ingredients for this noodle dish include noodles, black soybean sauce (Chunjang sauce), or black soy sauce made from fermented soybeans, pork, and vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, cabbage, and radish.
To fully enjoy this dish, you should visit the food stalls in the markets in Seoul. Not only can you try a delicious dish, but you also can experience the exciting nighttime atmosphere in Seoul.
Samgyeopsal (Grilled Pork)
Samgyeopsal is a must-try dish on your trip to South Korea.
A unique thing about this dish is that the meat has not been seasoned or marinated before. After the meat is grilled, you can dip it in a sauce made of salt and pepper mixed in sesame seed oil and then wrap it in lettuce with slices of garlic and grilled onion, chopped scallions, and kimchi.
Yangnyeom Chikin (Spicy Korean chicken)
Yangnyeom is another yummy Korean dish that you should try! You can easily find fried chicken with different flavors in Korea, from not-spicy, mild to extremely spicy.
Yangnyeom is made by deep-frying chicken and coated with a spicy sauce based on a traditional Korean chili sauce – Gochujang.
The tenderness of the chicken and the sweet-spicy sauce creates an attractive, unforgettable taste for diners.
This dish is often served with a few pieces of rice cake or fried potatoes.
Tips: For a sweeter version, you should try Dakgangjeong – chicken nuggets covered with a rich aromatic honey mustard sauce.
Dakkochi (Chicken skewers)
Another delicious chicken dish that you should try in South Korea is Dakkochi.
Dakkochi is grilled chicken on a stick. The cook usually coats it with thick, sticky, and addictive sauce. For example, you can choose soy sauce or other variations depending on your preferences.
Bulgogi (Grilled beef)
Sitting next to the hot stove and enjoying grilled beef is a fantastic experience during cold days.
Bulgogi beef is a Korean dish starring super-thin slices of beef marinated in the most flavor-packed mix of soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic.
When eating Bulgogi, you should wrap it in lettuce and other leaves to have the best experience.
Soondubu Jjigae (Soft tofu stew)
Soondubu Jjigae is a tofu dish stewed with scallops in a spicy broth, offering a soft and flavorful taste.
Usually served in a bowl, Soondubu Jjigae stewed tofu soup is a famous Korean spicy stew with main ingredients, usually tofu (dubu), vegetables, mushrooms, seafood, beef or pork, and chili sauce.
Several selected ingredients are added or replaced depending on the region and the cook.
Hobakjuk (Pumpkin Porridge)
Hobakjuk is a traditional Korean porridge dish made from steamed pumpkins and sticky rice. Although it is pretty simple, the dish offers a unique taste.
Koreans often eat pumpkin porridge in the morning. This dish can be hot or cold, but people usually like to slurp hot pumpkin porridge, especially on cold days.
Kimchi is one of the oldest dishes in South Korea and is also a cultural feature. The dish is made from fermented and sour pickled vegetables and is usually served as a side dish in the main course.
Japchae (stir-fried vermicelli with vegetables and fruits)
Japchae is also often served as a side dish in Korean meals, with the main ingredients including vermicelli mixed with stir-fried vegetables, beef, and a soy sauce.
Depending on the cook, in some places, they may also add mushrooms or some other ingredients to this Korean delicacy.
Japchae is one of the must-try dishes in Korea because it has a mild, mouth-catching taste.
When eating, you can enjoy a soft and chewy texture of vermicelli with a crispy taste of vegetables.
Sundae (Korean blood sausage)
Sundae is mainly stuffed with vermicelli and vegetables, barley, and special ingredients. You can find this dish in many places in South Korea, from luxury restaurants to street corner trolleys.
Hweori Gamja (Tornado potato)
If you are a fan of fried foods, you should try Hweori Gamja (Tornado potato).
Each piece of potato is evenly thin, crunchy, and beautifully shaped with a tornado shape that will satisfy your taste buds.
Seolleongtang (Ox bone soup)
Seolleongtang is a very nutritious and tasty Korean food.
The broth of Seolleongtang soup is carefully simmered from beef bones. The ingredients of this dish include noodles, beef with a bit of onion, creating a calm yet nutritious flavor.
Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancakes)
As an upgraded version of Pajeon (Korean pancakes), Haemul Pajeon is a pancake made with green onions, eggs, flour, rice flour, and seafood such as shrimp, squid, and clam.
Seafood pancakes are often served as the main course and are loved for their softness combined with the toughness and richness of the seafood.