Are you planning your trip to South Korea or your local Koreatown and curious to know what are the most popular dishes around to bump up your cultural experience? Scroll down to learn about the 11 iconic Korean main dishes that you must try when visiting South Korea!
List of Korean Foods in South Korea
1. Korean Barbecue, 고기구이
Korean Barbecue also known as gogi-gu – “고기구이”, is a popular Korean-style method to grill meat on charcoal grills, while pairing with some somaek – “소맥”. Somaek is a beer cocktail mixed with Soju + Beer, given its name, so – “소” is short for Soju, and maek – “맥” is short for maekju. Remember to wrap your lettuce with some grilled samgyupsal (pork belly)- “삼겹살” and kimchi – “김치”, topped with ssamjang – “쌈장”. With the number of sauces available, this makes a great dinner / late-night snack with all your friends!
2. Chimaek, 치맥
Chi-maek also known as Chicken (치긴) and Beer (맥주) = “치맥”, is the most classic combination in all South Korean dishes. You may have seen many Korean dramas that feature this combination in pairing your dish of spicy garlic/soy flavored fried chicken with a pint of Cass. The cold, carbonated rush from the beer to complement the sweet and spicy oily chicken is the way to go. I mean, it is also the correct way to celebrate the start of your weekend on a Friday night!
Looking for a great chicken franchise to get a taste of Korean fried chicken? Check out our guide on Korean Fried Chicken Franchises and their famous recipes here!
3. Cheese Dakgalbi, 치즈닭갈비
Dak-galbi – “닭갈비” also known as spicy stir-fried chicken is a Korean dish made by stir-frying marinated diced chicken with a paste called gochujang – “고추장” mixed with sweet potatoes, tteokbokki (떡볶이) rice cakes, cabbage, and other ingredients. Many dak-galbi dishes are served in a large sizzling pan with a cheese ring for both you and your friends to share! Top your dish with some ramyeon and you’ll understand what Korean style mi-goreng taste like! Even though cheese is highly recommended for this dish, you can enjoy some delicious dak-galbi with or without it!
4. Jjimdak, 찜닭
Jjimdak – “찜닭” which was originated from Andong, is one of Korean traditional dishes made with steamed chicken, onions, potatoes, tteokbokki and other vegetables that have been marinated in sweet Korean soy sauce, known as ganjang – “간장”. This dish is typically mixed in with glass noodles and the best thing yet, the only side you need is a bowl of hot steamed rice. Similar to dakgalbi, you can enjoy some delicious jjimdak with or without cheese!
5. Galbitang, 갈비탕
Galbitang – “갈비탕” is a traditional Korean soup dish that combines beef short ribs, stewing beef, radish, and onions. This dish is nourishing, delicate, and considered a “luxury” meal since short ribs are an expensive cut of meat. However, you can get a bowl of galbitang for as little as 10,000 won at a local Korean restaurant! Throughout the years, this delicious bowl of galbitang has been the best way to keep you warm during the cold winter seasons or after a long night of binge drinking!
6. “Tteog-Twi-Soon”, 떡튀순
“Tteog-twi-sun” – 떡튀순 is literally short for tteokbokki – “떡볶이” (spicy rice cakes), twigim – “튀김” (fried snacks), and soondae – “순대” (blood sausage). This combination is extremely popular in the Korean food culture scene and commonly comes up whenever a local is craving Korean street food. There are so many varieties, but what would be the best thing to try? 떡튀순! What a good way to taste a little bit of all.
7. Hotteok, 호떡
Hotteok – “호떡” means Korean pancake and is another favorite street food in South Korea that is made from wheat flour, stuffed with sweet cinnamon and peanut filling that tastes like maple syrup! You can find these snacks in little orange food tents near markets and central areas around Seoul. They’re super addicting but try not to overdose on these little guys; they are pretty high in calories!
8. Bingsu, 빙수
Bingsu – “빙수” is a Korean shaved ice dessert that combines a mixture of flavored crushed ice topped with fruits or traditional ingredients such as red bean, sesame, and peanuts. For the final touch, it is usually drizzled with a sweet sauce, either condensed milk or matcha syrup! There are various flavors offered in South Korea, and because of its refreshing taste, it’s no surprise that this dessert is extremely popular to share among your friends on a hot summer day!
9. Makgeolli + Pajeon, 막걸리+파전
Apparently, in South Korea, it is a tradition to crave Makgeolli – “막걸리” (milky Korean rice wine) with some Pajeon – “파전” (Korean pancake) on a rainy day. Pajeon with pa – “파” meaning scallions, this dish is made with a batter of eggs, scallion, kimchi, and seafood. This combination makes an enjoyable and satisfying snack even during a rainless night!
10. Naengmyeon, 냉면
Naengmyeon – “냉면” also known as cold noodles, is a Korean noodle dish that is typically made with buckwheat or arrowroot starch. This dish has been widely popular throughout Korea since the Korean war! The broth, on the other hand, is usually served icy cold with a tangy and savory taste. With the noodles combined, this makes it a traditional and delicious Korean meal for a hot sunny day.
11. Kimchi Mandu, 김치만두
Last but not least, Kimchi Mandu – “김치만두” are Korean dumplings that are stuffed with a mixture of kimchi, beef, pork, and tofu. This snack is another popular Korean dish that you cannot miss when visiting South Korea! The pork adds a little savoriness and fat to the filling while the tofu makes it extremely juicy!
We hope you get the chance to try all of these foods while in Korea or your local Koreatown. Tell us your favorite food in the comments and follow 10magfood on Instagram for more yummy updates from restaurants and cafes across Korea!